New deans to lead education, optometry, physical sciences

11 July 2001 | A leading scholar in reading and reading assessment, an internationally known vision scientist and an expert on the Earth’s mantle have been named by Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost Paul Gray as the newest deans at Berkeley.

David Pearson, a reading expert at Michigan State University, took the reins of the Graduate School of Education on July 1. He succeeded Eugene Garcia, who returned to the classroom full-time.

Dennis Levi, a University of Houston vision scientist, began his term as dean of the School of Optometry August 15. He replaces Anthony Adams, who will return to teaching and research at the school after nine years as dean.

And in the College of Letters & Science, Mark Richards, a Berkeley professor and former chair of earth and planetary science, will lead the physical sciences division beginning July 1, 2002. Richards will take the reins from Buford Price, professor of physics, who has served as dean of the physical sciences since July 1992. Price plans to return to the laboratory on September 1, at which time Peter Bickel, professor of statistics, will step in as interim dean until Richards takes over next year.

Graduate School of Education


David Pearson

“It is good to be coming back to what is arguably America’s most intellectually and culturally diverse and interesting public university,” said Pearson.

Pearson started out his career as a fifth grade teacher in the Central San Joaquin Valley town of Porterville in the mid-1960s. He has held the John Hannah Distinguished Professorship of Education at Michigan State’s College of Education, along with appointments in teacher education and educational psychology.

Pearson, who earned his B.A. in history at Berkeley in 1963, earned his Ph.D. in education from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1969. He became a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in 1969 and was appointed professor at the University of Illinois in 1979. He served as dean at the University of Illinois from 1989 to 1995.

School of Optometry
 Dennis Levi

“We are pleased to have an individual whose status in optometry and vision research is well recognized internationally,” said Adams, the current optometry dean. He added that Levi’s thoughtful approach and ability to listen to others will allow him to work well with the physical and biological scientists on campus who are involved with the Health Sciences Initiative.

The initiative encourages interactions among disciplines — from physics to psychology — to stimulate new developments for today’s major health problems.

“This is a great opportunity to expand our work with other disciplines on campus to advance clinical research in optometry,” said Adams.

The School of Optometry spans the distance from molecular research to the use of new techniques in clinical work, a range that Levi said he expects to use to good advantage in bringing to bear on eye research Berkeley’s rich resources in the physical and biological sciences.

“Berkeley has incredibly good people in the molecular and genetic basis of the eye and vision. At the same time, we have a very strong clinical program and can move from molecule to patient. I will encourage cooperation between the talented people in so many departments at Berkeley that could have ties with optometry,” said Levi. Born in South Africa, Levi came to the United States in 1970 to do eye research and teach at the University of Houston, rising from assistant professor to the Cullen Distinguished Professor of Optometry.

Physical Sciences
In his new post, Richards will oversee faculty members and research initiatives in physics, astronomy, geosciences, mathematics and statistics.

Richards has been a member of the faculty since 1989, except for a brief hiatus in 1993-94 at the University of Washington. He currently is on sabbatical at Johns Hopkins University.

“I’m delighted that Mark took the job,” said Price, the current dean. “One of his strengths is that he comes into the job aware of the need to raise funds to rebuild many of the facilities housing the physical sciences. A new physical sciences building is still a dream, but we need a dean like Mark who is interested in aggressively raising money to make it possible.”

Richards, a native of Texas, obtained a B.S. in engineering science from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1977, then moved to Caltech, from which he graduated in 1986 with a Ph.D. in geophysics. He joined the University of Oregon faculty in 1987 and came to Berkeley in 1989. After leaving briefly in 1993 for the University of Washington, Seattle, he returned as a full professor of geophysics in 1994. He served as chair of the Department of Geology & Geophysics, now the Department of Earth & Planetary Science, from 1997 until 1999.


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