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Mote Heads for Maryland

Berkeley's Vice Chancellor of University Relations Will Become the 27th President of the University of Maryland at College Park

by Julia Summer, Public Affairs
posted July 15, 1998

"I like big-impact plays, actions that have big effects," says Dan Mote, vice chancellor of university relations.

On Sept. 1 he starts his next big-impact play as president of the University of Maryland at College Park.

Mote received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees at Berkeley. "It was the only place I considered going," he recalls. His father, brothers, and many other relatives had graduated from Cal.

Mote was no straight-A student. "I was more interested in social life and sports. I was always pushing the edge," he recalls. He had five motorcycle wrecks before quitting that vehicle, and broke 16 pairs of skis before graduating. He met his wife, Patsy, while working the lifts at Sugar Bowl.

Despite his strong interest in extracurricular activities, Mote decided to become a professor when he was just a sophomore, "probably not for the right reasons," he says. "I didn't want to work for anybody, and being a professor seemed to offer the most freedom. But then I had to decide on a field. I was interested in so many things."

He chose mechanical engineering, and searched for a professor who would approve of him spending summers leading hiking trips in Yosemite. He found him in Karl Pister, who later became chancellor at UC Santa Cruz. Mote's main mentor has been professor emeritus Iain Finnie.

After receiving his doctorate in 1963, Mote did a post-doc in Birmingham, England, then taught briefly at Carnegie Tech. Joining Berkeley's mechanical engineering faculty in 1967, he has taught here ever since.

Mote says his favorite role at Berkeley has been "supervising graduate students. You get to know them very well and you remain well connected. It's almost like being a parent, and all of them turn out so well! I feel so proud that I've had the opportunity to guide and influence graduate students and their approach to technology and humanity. And they pass on my influence to their graduate students, so you have grandchildren very quickly. Very few jobs are this rewarding."

In 1991 Mote was named vice chancellor of university relations by then chancellor, Chang-Lin Tien.

"Being offered that job was the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me here," says Mote. "I had been fairly good at raising money for the mechanical engineering department, but I didn't even know where the Development Office was. I said I'd take the job if I could make a big-impact play, like design a $1 billion campaign."

Today, Berkeley's $1.1 billion Campaign for the New Century is ahead of schedule, at $780 million. The campaign will culminate on Dec. 31, 2000 -- the largest fundraising effort ever attempted by a public university without a medical school.

Mote credits his "modest ability and brashness" for spearheading the campaign's success. "Building ongoing, long-term relationships between alumni and friends and the campus is the key," he says.

The Motes will move into the president's house at the University of Maryland by Sept. 1, selling their house in Berkeley but keeping vacation homes in Bodega Bay and Sugar Bowl. "Patsy is excited, sad, stressed," says Mote of his wife, "but I never get too stressed." They will miss their two children and four grandchildren in Berkeley and Pleasant Hill, but plan on returning to California eventually. "I'm a California guy," says Mote.

He'll spend August thinking about where he can make the big-impact plays at the University of Maryland, a campus very much like Berkeley. "UC has prepared me perfectly for this job," Mote says. "It will be an airy experience to be president of a major American university. I foresee an enormous menu of new experiences."

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