CONTENTS : DEAN'S DESK
General Douglas MacArthur told the Congress more than 50 years ago, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” The same can probably be said for deans. After I turn over the college to the able hands of incoming dean Charles Harris on July 1, 2005, I will take up a new position as Chief Scientist of Berkeley QB3, one of the three branches of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research.
QB3 and the College
Berkeley QB3 will be housed mainly in Stanley Hall, a grand new research facility that is nearing completion in the Northeast quadrant of campus. Stanley Hall will face the Hearst Mining Circle (which is currently occupied by construction trailers, but which will eventually be returned to its former splendor as a reflecting pool). The new building will provide research space for about 40 research groups and will also contain several important core facilities, including nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry.
The research groups will come from many departments: Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, and Physics. The goal of QB3 is to bring together the expertise in basic sciences and engineering at UCB and UCSC with the medical sciences at UCSF to attack problems that have been simply unapproachable before, setting the stage for fundamental new discoveries, new products and new technologies for the benefit of human health.
A number of College of Chemistry faculty are involved with Berkeley QB3. Some, including Mike Marletta, Alex Pines, Jamie Doudna-Cate, Jennifer Doudna, John Kuriyan, David Schaffer, Dave Wemmer, and Jay Groves, will move their research labs to Stanley Hall next year when the building is completed. Others will retain their current research labs but will be heavily involved in the new collaborations that will be forged as our programs develop. Since the occupancy list is not fully developed, there may be others, including one or more chemists or chemical engineers, who will be joining our faculty between now and the time the new building is completed. It will be up to Harris and the new department chairs, Alex Bell in chemical engineering and Mike Marletta in chemistry, to hash out the final details.
The various moves into Stanley Hall in the fall of 2006 will open a good deal of space in the traditional College of Chemistry buildings and permit both our departments to make several faculty appointments to reach our new targets of 50 faculty members in the chemistry department and 20 in the chemical engineering department. (Currently we are well below our targets, mainly because of shortage of space for research laboratories and offices.)
Update on renovations
In addition to this upcoming “scientific fruit basket turn over,” we continue to renew our older facilities. During the past year we completed two major renovation projects in upper Latimer Hall that provided more research space for assistant professors Dirk Trauner and Dean Toste, and we have just begun a similar project that will provide research space for assistant professor Richmond Sarpong.
We are also making steady progress in our “Gilman Hall Renewal Project.” Gilman Hall is a beautiful old building (constructed in 1917) listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings because of the important Manhattan Project that was carried out there in the 1940s (plutonium was first isolated and characterized in room 307 Gilman Hall). It was rated “good” in the 1999 SAFER seismic evaluation of all the buildings on campus. The building does not have the infrastructure (power, ventilation) for modern laboratory research work. However, it is ideally positioned to serve as the “front door” to the college.
Therefore, we are steadily transforming Gilman Hall into an office and classroom building. The first steps were taken in 1999-2000, when the basement was converted into the Pitzer Center for Theoretical Chemistry. Since that time, we have renovated about two-thirds of the second floor into comfortable faculty offices and a conference room. This summer, we will relocate the College of Chemistry Building Management team to renovated offices on the ground floor of Gilman. In the fall we will begin an ambitious renovation of about 60 percent of the third floor of Gilman, to which College of Chemistry Building and Administrative Services (BAS) will move early in 2006. The moves of Building Management and BAS to Gilman will open up a large area on the fourth floor of Latimer Hall that will eventually be renovated to provide more space for the chemical engineering department, which is badly in need of more modern research and office space.
Private funding always helps
I should say that much of these facilities improvements were made possible by gifts from alumni and friends of the college. Although many donors have contributed to these projects, I would like to single out three gifts that were especially valuable: a bequest of $2.9 million from the estate of Ann Schiffler, and gifts of $1 million and $500,000 from BristolMyers Squibb and Novartis, respectively. It is impossible to exaggerate the impact that gifts of this sort have—without them we would not be able to continue to provide the sort of quality education that our students deserve. If we let our educational reputation slide it not only hurts our current and future students, but it also devalues the degrees of our former students.