UCLA Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
To: Administrative Officers, Deans, Department Chairs, Directors, Faculty in the Division of Life Sciences, Vice Chancellors and Vice Provosts, Division of Life Sciences Staff and the College FEC
Distinguished Professor Victoria Sork has informed me of her intent to step down as the dean of the Division of Life Sciences and senior associate dean in the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) on June 30, 2020, after two five-year terms of service. While I regret that we will be losing such an effective leader, I appreciate Victoria’s desire to return full-time to her research and teaching.
Under Victoria’s leadership, Life Sciences faculty have maintained high levels of research funding and attracted major scholarly awards, including the election of several new members to the National Academy of Sciences, as well as a 35 percent increase in the number of undergraduate majors. In addition, during her tenure, the establishment of the Institute of Quantitative and Computational Biosciences allowed an expansion of faculty hiring in the field of data science — matching the interest of undergraduate and graduate students — that has better positioned the division to respond to academic and industry needs.
During the last 10 years, the UCLA Graduate Programs in Biosciences, a collaboration between the DGSOM and Life Sciences, was created to support 10 jointly administered Ph.D. programs and enhance the quality of graduate education. At the undergraduate level, the creation of the Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences, a collaboration with Physical Sciences, has advanced teaching excellence in STEM fields at UCLA, and created a community of scholars committed to teaching excellence, diversity and student success.
Victoria has significantly increased diversity among the division’s faculty and academic leaders, receiving the UCLA Faculty Senate’s award for Career Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2018. In collaboration with faculty leaders within the division, Victoria has expanded scholarship programs for highly accomplished students from underrepresented groups through the Dean’s Life Science Scholars Program to provide four-year scholarships for high achieving students in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Pathways to Success program and the Dean’s Research Awards offered by the Center for Opportunities to Maximize Participation, Access, and Student Success in the Life Sciences.
Victoria’s extensive and focused efforts during our Centennial Campaign have created critical new areas of funding for both research infrastructure and student support. The division has received major philanthropic gifts for construction of a beautiful entrance building at the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden and the transformation of the historic Botany Building into a modern science facility. She also launched a capital campaign to fund renovation of the Psychology Tower. The division has exceeded its fundraising goals each year since the start of the campaign and has doubled the number of endowed chairs in Life Sciences.
We expect to form a search committee to identify candidates for a new dean early in the 2019–20 academic year and my office will keep you informed as we initiate the search.
As we continue our work with Dean Sork throughout the upcoming year, we anticipate ample time and opportunities to thank her for her dedicated service as dean and for the many transformative initiatives she led on behalf of the division and UCLA. Chancellor Block and I are extremely grateful for Victoria’s outstanding leadership, and we wish her every success as she renews her focus on research and teaching.
Scott L. Waugh
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost