Lisa Alvarez-Cohen appointed as UC Berkeley’s next vice provost for academic planning

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UC Berkeley professor of environmental engineering Lisa Alvarez-Cohen will be the campus’s next Vice Provost for Academic Planning, as current Vice Provost Tsu-Jae King Liu will be stepping down and assuming a position as the College of Engineering dean.

Alvarez-Cohen has been a professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering for about 27 years and will take her new position July 1, according to a campuswide email from Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos. She said her goal is to meet the different needs of her job by finding a suitable approach to each.

“Professor Alvarez-Cohen is a seasoned leader in administration at Berkeley,” Liu said. “She is knowledgeable in ways to better support our students and improve our infrastructure.”

Liu served as vice provost for almost two years. In response to Liu’s decision to step down, the executive vice chancellor and provost office opened applications for the position April 30.

Alvarez-Cohen has been a part of UC Berkeley’s faculty and administration since she became an assistant professor in 1991. She was also the first woman in her department to receive tenure.

“The (vice provost) position is full time. … Unfortunately, I will not have the opportunity to teach and I’ll miss that very much,” Alvarez-Cohen said in an email. “I intend to maintain my research activities as well as graduate student and undergraduate mentoring efforts.”

Alvarez-Cohen served several terms as chair of multiple Academic Senate committees, such as the Committee on Educational Policy and the Graduate Council, and she is currently chair of the Academic Senate. Alvarez-Cohen also chaired the department of civil and environmental engineering from 2007 to 2012.

To assume the position of vice provost, she will have to resign from being the Academic Senate chair, which she said was a “terrific job” and that she recommends it. She added, however, that she will remain co-chair of UC Berkeley’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

“I will miss it,” Alvarez-Cohen said regarding her position as Academic Senate chair.  “(You) work with folks who are devoted to the campus. … (I gained) a bird’s-eye of the whole campus. … I’m devoted to the campus.”

The vice provost position is an integrative role that includes coordinating opportunities for academic collaboration, supporting the development of current and emerging disciplines and representing the campus’s global engagement, according to campus spokesperson Roqua Montez.

According to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, the vice provost must also be diplomatic and be able to make decisions based on large amounts of information.

“(It’s) a very unique time in Berkeley’s history: new leadership, new strategies on the academic plan, new directions Berkeley wants to go in,” Alvarez-Cohen said. “It’s an exciting time.”

Contact Jan Schuermann at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Jan_182.