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Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Catherine Koshland to retire

"Few and far between are members of our community who have contributed as much as Cathy has to our mission; to our students, faculty, and staff; to our excellence," Chancellor Carol Christ said in a message Thursday.

Catherine Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education and the new interim executive vice chancellor and provost, smiles at the camera in this close-up portrait, wearing dark-framed eyeglasses and a big smile.
Catherine Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education, has been named the interim executive vice chancellor and provost. She said the bulk of her long career at Berkeley "has been about serving the institution and working with my colleagues — faculty and staff and students — to advance opportunities for all members of the community.” (Photo by Will Howekamp)

Chancellor Carol Christ sent the following message to the campus community on Thursday:

It is with a mixture of gratitude and regret that I share the news that Catherine P. Koshland will be retiring this summer after thirty-eight years of extraordinary service to our campus and our cause. Few and far between are members of our community who have contributed as much as Cathy has to our mission; to our students, faculty, and staff; to our excellence. A member of faculty. Chair of the Academic Senate. Vice Provost. Vice Chancellor. Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. Friend. Mentor. Advocate. Leader. Colleague. No matter the hat she wore or the position she occupied, every day, year in, year out, Cathy has brought to work a sharp intellect, curiosity, integrity, compassion, tenacity, a vibrant spirit, and exemplary leadership. She is one of the lucky people for whom career was a calling, and we were luckier still for having been her professional home.

Cathy earned her B.A. in fine arts from Haverford College in 1972, and joined the Berkeley faculty in 1984 with a doctorate and M.S. in mechanical engineering, both received from Stanford University. With wide-ranging academic interests and a deep dedication to cross-disciplinary exploration, Cathy is the Wood-Calvert Professor in the College of Engineering, a professor of environmental health sciences in the School of Public Health and a member of the Energy and Resources Group faculty. She will leave a legacy of deep dedication to her students, during their time at Cal and beyond, as she supported their pursuit of meaningful careers that would make a difference in the world.

After serving as the chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate during the academic year of 2002-03, Cathy took on a series of senior leadership roles in the campus administration. From 2004 to 2014, she served as vice provost for academic planning and facilities, a role that was expanded in 2009 to include teaching and learning. In that position, utilizing a holistic approach to planning, she helped shepherd Stanley Hall, the Li Ka Shing Center, BAMPFA, and the East Asian Library from concepts to construction. Among the other initiatives and academic programs that Cathy led were the advancement of the campus’s digital learning strategy, and with the vice chancellor for student affairs, sponsorship of the student information systems implementation project. She provided support to enhance the American Cultures program and to ensure that students would have access to critical courses through the common good curriculum project. She has overseen major operating units, including University Extension and Summer Sessions; Study Abroad and Lifelong Learning; the Athletic Study Center; the Student Learning Center; and Research, Teaching and Learning Services.

During this period, Cathy also helped strengthen our leadership infrastructure, through her advocacy for enhancing the role and influence of the academic enterprise in the campus administration. As a result, our vice provosts are key members of the leadership cabinet and play a significant role in the governance of our university.

When, in 2015, the campus moved to sharpen its focus on and support for the undergraduate educational experience, Cathy was a natural choice to serve as our first vice chancellor for undergraduate education. In that role she emphasized the importance of fostering community and connection through programs like Berkeley Connect; worked to ensure undergraduates could be true members of our research enterprise through an initiative that ultimately led to the development of Berkeley Discovery; and led efforts to help faculty and departments expand and enhance their support for an undergraduate experience that offered students opportunities for agency, engagement, and partnerships.

Last April, when we needed to fill the crucial position of executive vice chancellor and provost on an interim basis, I did not have to look far or long. It is beyond my capacity to fully capture and convey all that Cathy has brought to this role during one of the most challenging periods in our university’s history. She has been instrumental in helping lead and guide us through the pandemic’s perils while never losing sight of the usual, every-day demands of her position or the long-term projects and planning that will allow us to thrive in the years ahead.

In so many ways, Cathy embodies and represents so much of what makes Berkeley, Berkeley. She is a changemaker with an unshakeable commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and belonging. Her care and concern for her students complements a devotion to the greater good. She has strived for and achieved excellence in a wide range of academic pursuits and administrative endeavors. She moves easily from big-picture plans and aspirations to the details and decisions that bring them to life. She leads from the front without failing to make room for all those around her—students, staff, and faculty alike—to work in partnership, to question, engage, and create on their own.

The essence, character, and quality of any university are formed and sustained by its people, their values, and their abilities. While Cathy’s departure may be our collective loss, I could not be more grateful for all that we have gained from her presence.

The search for the next vice provost for undergraduate education will launch in the coming weeks. We plan to have a permanent vice provost in place before the start of the next academic year.

Please join me in congratulating Cathy on her superb career and offering best wishes for the road ahead.