Three new deans at UC Berkeley bring vision and innovation to programs in their fields

by Marie Felde

Berkeley -- With the start of the spring semester last week, the University of California at Berkeley welcomed three new deans, each selected following highly competitive searches.

Joining the campus are Harrison S. Fraker Jr., dean of the College of Environmental Design, and Eugene Garcia, the new dean at the Graduate School of Education. Carolyn Porter, a long-time UC Berkeley English professor, takes on new duties as the dean of Undergraduate Education.

"We are delighted to have such highly qualified scholars in these key leadership positions," said Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol T. Christ. "It is heartening that Berkeley continues to attract the very best, and provides an exceedingly positive outlook for our future."

The new dean of the College of Environmental Design, Harrison S. Fraker Jr., comes to UC Berkeley from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. During his 12 years there he revitalized the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, turning it into one of the strongest professional schools in the country.

He is an activist as well, having been heavily involved in local, regional and national urban planning issues. Fraker "left behind a vision of how design and architecture improve the way communities work," said a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

"Berkeley has a fantastic reputation, which is why I came," Fraker said. "The architecture department is number one in the country, city and regional planning is number one in the country if not the world, landscape architecture is number 2, and the three together make this the number one college of environmental design in the nation."

That said, he notes that one doesn't remain a leader by standing still. "Changes in the field, including a growing public and government awareness about the importance of environmental design in the quality of our lives, may create new opportunities for the college to seize," he said.

A Princeton alumnus, he grew up in that New Jersey college town and started his architecture practice there. His initial specialty was energy-conscious design, but in the past decade he has moved into the field of sustainable design. He currently is working on a project to create affordable rural homes, and specializes in urban neighborhoods.

Eugene Garcia is the new dean at the Graduate School of Education. He joins UC Berkeley from the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs in the U.S. Department of Education, where he was its director.

Formerly a professor of education and psychology at UC Santa Cruz, his areas of specialization include human development, education, psycho-linguistics and bilingualism.

"It is a pleasure to join UC Berkeley at a critical time for K-12/University partnerships such as the Berkeley Pledge," he said. "My own research and policy experience should be of assistance in these endeavors."

At UC Santa Cruz, Garcia also served as dean of the division of social sciences and co-director of UC Santa Cruz's National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning.

Among the many publications he has written and edited is the 1994 book "Understanding and Meeting the Challenge of Student Diversity." He also co-edited "Children at Risk," a 1990 publication.

Garcia received his PhD from the University of Kansas and did post-doctoral work at Harvard University.

UC Berkeley English Professor Carolyn Porter is the dean of Undergraduate Education, a new position on campus. She has a broad mandate to evaluate and enrich undergraduate education across the campus, including at the professional schools.

Porter is also responsible for the Division of Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies, which has its own large program. Some 1,600 students pursue majors under its umbrella.

A graduate of Rice University, Porter is an authority on 19th and 20th century American literature. She came to UC Berkeley in 1972 as an assistant professor and has since become a leader in interdisciplinary fields.

She was director of UC Berkeley's women's studies program from 1983-86 and co-director of the American Studies Program in the early 1990s.

As dean of undergraduate education, Porter said she will create new general education lecture courses to satisfy breadth requirements for students. Courses in areas such as jazz, critical thinking, and statistics for non-specialists are under consideration. They will be carried out initially on a pilot basis and will be taught by eminent faculty from different departments.

Porter said she also hopes to generate a new focus and energy in the campus's professional schools for undergraduate education.

Harrison Fraker can be reached at (510) 642-0831; Eugene Garcia at (510) 642-3726; Carolyn Porter (510) 642-4119.

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