Fiona Doyle, vice provost of graduate studies and dean of the Graduate Division, will retire next summer after a 36-year-long academic and administrative career at UC Berkeley.
A first-generation college student, Doyle came to UC Berkeley in 1983 as an assistant professor in the campus department of materials science and engineering. She was the College of Engineering’s third female faculty member and has been the Donald H. McLaughlin Professor of Mineral Engineering since 1998.
“I think Fiona was somebody who was rooted in her training as an engineer,” said Kena Hazelwood-Carter, campus doctoral candidate and former president of the Graduate Assembly. “Every part of her work and everything that she’s done has been designed to really help increase the capacity for the campus to address grad student need and was established in a way that was sustainable.”
As campus’s top administrator for graduate education, Doyle said her priorities are promoting the well-being of graduate students, increasing financial support for graduate programs and bringing Berkeley’s graduate programs up to pace with a changing market, in which demand for graduate degrees is higher while academic teaching positions are fewer.
Doyle led the effort to create the Berkeley Endowments to Attract and Retain Graduate Students, or BEAR GradS, which increased the amount of fellowship money available for graduate students, works to increase philanthropic donations to graduate education and supports professional development programs. Doyle also prioritizes improving services for graduate students and transforming the Graduate Division from the “kind of DMV bureaucratic institution” that she inherited.
“Dean Doyle has been a tremendous advocate for grad students on this campus on a range of topics, in terms of mentorship and making sure grad students have an equitable share of fee revenues,” said campus doctoral candidate and Graduate Assembly president Jonathan Morris. “She’s really changed the conversation for the better to consider grad students in decision-making.”
Doyle’s academic research focuses on the production of materials from minerals. She has focused in particular on reducing the environmental impacts of those processes.
“I suppose it’s the classic things, of wanting to leave the world better than how you find it,” Doyle said of her academic motivation. “I derive a lot of pleasure for the fact that there’s a lot more gender equity in engineering than when I first came.”
In retirement, Doyle says she looks forward to hiking, going on adventures, working with professional organizations and enjoying arts and crafts. She said she will miss everyday interactions with students, and her fondest Berkeley memories are of solving problems with her “fantastic” colleagues.
The search for Doyle’s replacement has been initiated, and more information will come out at the end of September, according to campus spokesperson Michael Dirda.
“It’s hard to think of a dimension where I’d have any reason not to be enthusiastic about her and not to be sad that she’s stepping down,” said Vice Provost for the Faculty Ben Hermalin.