Deans play a critically important role at the University of California, Berkeley and we invest considerable thought and energy in their selection. The practices and norms governing these searches are under continuous review and improvement. This document summarizes current practices and notes some recent changes to them.
The Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (EVCP) is responsible for overseeing the search for a new dean to lead a Berkeley college, school, or division. The Office of the Vice Provost for the Faculty (VPF) coordinates the dean searches on behalf of the EVCP. A search advisory committee makes recommendations to the Chancellor and the EVCP. See below for details on how that committee is constituted.
The dean selection process is a careful and deliberate one; consequently, it typically takes several months and spans more than one academic semester.
If the goal is for the new dean to take office July 1, the search will most likely begin early in the spring of the previous academic year (e.g., a search with a planned appointment date of July 1, 2023 will have begun early in spring 2022 with a goal of concluding with sufficient time to negotiate the appointment of the finalist to make possible a July 1, 2023 start). While time is a factor, the most important goal is to find the right individual.
How is it decided whether to conduct a closed search, restricted internally to campus candidates, or an open search that considers both internal and external candidates?
A number of years ago, the campus decided that, to ensure the broadest and most diverse candidate pools, all dean searches should be open to both internal and external candidates.. Open searches, it should be noted, were long the norm on the campus when searching for deans of professional schools and certain colleges. Note that being open to external candidates does not mean that external candidates are in any way favored—Berkeley is blessed with good internal candidates who, among their other skills and strengths, bring a deep and valuable knowledge of the campus and its processes. At the same time, external candidates can bring fresh new ideas that can protect us from becoming parochial in our thinking and strategies.
The EVCP decides whether the services of a search firm would significantly enhance the pool of candidates for external searches. In such cases, a firm is normally selected from a pool of UCOP pre-negotiated vendors.
The search firm serves as support to the search advisory committee and plays no role in deciding which candidates should move forward in the search process. Its role is to help identify potential candidates; to reach out to potential candidates to determine interest; to conduct research and due diligence on candidates; and to facilitate the work of the search advisory committee, including gathering input from key stakeholders on the selection criteria, posting advertisements, preparing materials, and assisting with meeting and candidate travel logistics.
The search advisory committee is charged with advising the Chancellor and the EVCP during the dean selection process.
The search advisory committee assists in defining the selection criteria and methods of advertising and outreach, writing an advertisement for the position, consulting widely across stakeholder groups, and encouraging applications to obtain a diverse and inclusive applicant pool of highly qualified candidates. The committee reviews the biographies and academic and leadership backgrounds of potential candidates, conducts semifinalist interviews with top candidates, and assesses top candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.wor
Following discussions and deliberations, the search advisory committee presents its findings, including a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, and recommends a set of proposed finalists who should move forward in the process via a report to the Chancellor, EVCP and VPF. The search committee’s formal role ends once they have submitted this report. The final selection of the new dean is the responsibility of the Chancellor and EVCP.
The EVCP and VPF form the search advisory committee, taking into account demographic and disciplinary diversity, among other factors. Typically, the committee consists of university faculty, staff, students, alumni and advisors to the college or school in question. The membership of the committee is informed by nominations solicited from the dean’s unit, the Academic Senate’s Committee on Committees, its Committee on Budget and Interdepartmental Relations, and other campus and external stakeholders.
Yes. A standard dean search advisory committee consists of:
- A committee search chair, who is a senior faculty member from outside the college/school/division, and preferably one with experience as a dean, vice provost, or academic vice chancellor.
- Faculty members within the college/school/division who will reflect a variety of views and perspectives, including disciplinary.
- One or more faculty members outside of the college/school/division.
- One or more staff representatives.
- One or more students. As the time commitment is significant, the campus prefers senior graduate students for this role.
- One or more alumni or “friend of the school” representatives, usually selected after consultation with the college/school/division’s chief development officer.
All members of the search advisory committee are expected to attend all of the committee’s meetings (allowing for the occasional absences that can arise). All members are encouraged to participate fully in discussion and debate.
The VPF provides clear expectations to the search advisory committee members about their role. The Associate Vice Provost for the Faculty (AVPF) meets with the search advisory committee prior to the beginning of the search process to discuss best practices for selection criteria, candidate evaluation and reducing the role of unconscious bias. Committee members are required to complete training on implicit bias.
The candidates are identified in the following ways:
Nominations The search advisory committee widely solicits nominations of potential candidates and applications from candidates for the position. See below for details on how to nominate a candidate.
Advertisements An advertisement announcing the role is sent to the whole campus via CalMessages, and posted on the EVCP and VPF websites and AP Recruit. The position is also posted on several high-visibility higher education recruitment websites, including those that focus on recruiting diverse candidates, and on discipline-specific sites recommended by the search advisory committee. If the EVCP has decided to use the services of an outside recruitment firm, the advertisement will also be posted on the firm’s website.
Search strategy The search firm (if applicable) and search advisory committee develop a robust search strategy to identify qualified individuals. The strategy includes reviewing deans and associate deans at UC campuses, AAU institutions, and top-ranked national and public universities. Senior faculty who direct large programs and/or have served as department chairs are a rich source of prospective candidates. External candidates will need to meet the academic standards for appointment as a tenured Berkeley faculty member
Yes. The Chancellor, the EVCP and the search advisory committee welcome and strongly encourage all members of the UC Berkeley community to nominate potential candidates (including themselves, if they wish). If you are interested in nominating a potential candidate, please submit the individual’s name to the email address listed in the call for nominations. All nominations will be thoroughly considered by the search advisory committee.
Yes, Berkeley has made leadership training a priority. The Faculty Leadership Academy is a regularly offered program for tenured faculty who are interested in developing the skills and knowledge required to be a successful leader. We also offer an annual year-long training program for new department chairs and associate deans.
It is a common national practice to preserve the confidentiality of candidates during dean searches. For many prospective candidates, participating in a process that is not confidential would put their professional careers at risk. As a result, many candidates will simply not participate in a process that does not preserve the confidentiality of their candidacy. Evidence suggests that those who elect not to participate when searches aren’t confidential are disproportionately women and members of underrepresented groups. By maintaining a confidential search process, we ensure that we can successfully engage the largest, most talented, and most diverse set of candidates and maximize our competitive position among other similar searches that may be occurring nationally.
Given our interest in ensuring a broad and diverse pool, the practice going forward will be to maintain confidentiality throughout the process. However, the search firm or a staff member will confidentially (and without pressure) ask all finalists whether they would like to have a more public interview process and make a formal presentation to the dean’s community. If all finalists agree to it, we will proceed with a public component to the finalist interviews. If at least one candidate is not comfortable, the search process will remain confidential to the end.
Yes. Immediately after the search advisory committee convenes for the first time, typically in early fall, the committee and/or search firm conducts meetings with the college or school’s stakeholders and collects input from undergraduate students, graduate and professional students, faculty, staff and selected alumni. The committee also solicits input via an online survey to all constituents, as the feedback informs their selection criteria.
Members of the dean’s unit are also selected to represent their community on the search advisory committee. To help ensure that the perspective of the dean’s community is well-represented to the end of the confidential search process, we will also invite a group of individuals from the school or college (typically leaders and/or members of the unit’s executive committee) to participate in finalist interviews.
The dean search advisory committee will send periodic updates to the college or school constituencies, including faculty, staff, students and alumni. Because of the need to respect confidentiality and similar concerns, there may be times during which such updates are less frequent than others.
The search advisory committee works to identify and interview a pool of semifinalist candidates. Following the interviews, and campus visits (if applicable), the search advisory committee submits a report to the Chancellor, EVCP, and VPF that summarizes the search process up to that point and provides an evaluation of each of the committee’s proposed finalists. The EVCP and VPF hold finalist interviews, review background checks, conduct reference calls, and initiate and review on-list and off-list references before the EVCP and Chancellor decide on a top candidate.
After the search advisory committee has provided an evaluation of all interviewed candidates and recommended finalists to the Chancellor and EVCP, the Chancellor and EVCP will decide who to select, often after consulting with the VPF. The EVCP and Chancellor will conduct additional interviews and reference checks. Candidate negotiations can take several weeks or months; it is not uncommon for communication about the search process to cease during this period.
The EVCP oversees the appointment process in coordination with the VPF. The announcement process is coordinated with the school/college/division and the Office of Public Affairs.
Anyone who has questions is encouraged to contact the search advisory committee at the email address listed in the call for nominations. If you have general questions about the process, please send an email to email@example.com and your question will be routed accordingly.