After 28 years as a professor of Earth and planetary science at UC Berkeley, Mark Richards will be leaving Berkeley in June to become the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Washington.
A geophysicist by training, Mark is an accomplished scholar who has been at Berkeley for most of his academic career. He served as the dean of mathematical and physical sciences for 12 years from 2002 to 2014, 8 of which he served simultaneously as the executive dean of the College of Letters & Science (2006 to 2014). Mark’s impact on the college has been both broad and deep. He launched an array of innovative educational initiatives to enhance the undergraduate student experience, including On the Same Page and Big Ideas Courses, and collaborated with student leaders to establish the first academic honor code in the UC system. He led the development of key educational programs, such as CalTeach and Berkeley’s Teaching Excellence Colloquium, to equip both aspiring and new educators with the knowledge, tools, and inspiration necessary to achieve success in the field. He implemented fundraising strategies and priorities that tripled the college’s annual average fundraising total during his tenure as dean, which helped support the creation of new faculty chairs, faculty recruitments, student fellowships, growth in the college’s endowment, and $165 million in facilities renovations and improvements. A skilled facilitator and collaborator, he was also instrumental in the establishment of a number of leading-edge research centers at Berkeley, including the Center for Atmospheric Science, the Center for Computational Biology, the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics, and the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing.
Under Mark’s leadership, the Division of Mathematical & Physical Sciences (MPS) at Berkeley became a national leader in addressing the persistent problem of underrepresentation in the sciences and he has served as the special assistant for diversity to the MPS dean since he stepped down in 2014. A longtime champion of diversity and inclusion at Berkeley, he has created and increased opportunities for access, recruitment, retention, and advancement for members of underrepresented groups. While he was dean, the number of women faculty in MPS more than doubled. He created, led, or paved the way for numerous MPS and campus diversity programs, including the Berkeley Edge Program, Berkeley’s UC AGEP Program, the Level Playing Field Institute-Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), the Berkeley Science Network, the Berkeley Science Connections Program, the S-STEM Scholarship and S-STEM Leadership Programs, Compass, and most notably, the California Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, which has won three major awards totaling approximately $4.6M from the National Science Foundation. In recognition of his outstanding accomplishments and tireless commitment, Mark received Berkeley’s two highest awards for contributions to diversity - the Academic Senate’s Leon Henkin Citation in 2013 and the Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in 2014.
Mark’s departure from UC Berkeley is one that will be felt widely across campus - you can read more about his work and successes on the Department of Earth & Planetary Science website .