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June 11, 2003

Robert C. Dynes named 18th president of the University of California

By Michael Reese
UC Office of the President

Robert C. Dynes, a first-generation college graduate who went on to become a distinguished physicist and chancellor of UC San Diego, was named the 18th president of the University of California system on June 11 by the UC Board of Regents.

Additional information from UC Office of the President

Above, Robert C. Dynes speaks at a press conference following his selection. His wife, Frances Dynes Hellman, left, is a professor of physics at UC San Diego. Below, Dynes is joined by the current UC president, Richard C. Atkinson. Photos: UC Office of the President

"I am delighted with the choice of Chancellor Bob Dynes as the new President of the University of California.

"He brings to this task his international scholarly reputation, his record of extraordinary achievements at UC San Diego, a strong sense of personal optimism, and integrity.

"It will be a privilege to serve with him, and I look forward to his successful tenure."

--UCSC Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood

Dynes, who came to UC San Diego as professor of physics in 1991 after a two-decade career in the private sector and was named chancellor in 1996, will become president of the 10-campus UC system on Oct. 2.

He succeeds Richard C. Atkinson, who is retiring from the UC presidency after eight years that began Oct. 1, 1995.

Dynes was selected from a national pool of more than 300 candidates. The recommendation was made by a regental selection committee assisted by advisory committees of faculty, staff, students and alumni.

"Bob Dynes is an outstanding individual who will provide superb leadership to maintain the quality and accessibility of the University of California," said John J. Moores, chairman of the Board of Regents. "He brings the perfect mix of skills and experiences to tackle this demanding job. I appreciate the input of all who participated in the selection process, and I am particularly grateful to the faculty for the important role they played in our deliberations."

Dynes, 60, is an expert on semiconductors and superconductors who spent a 22-year physics career at AT&T Bell Laboratories before coming to UC San Diego, where he has continued his research and teaching while serving as chancellor.

Addressing the Regents' meeting in Oakland, Dynes pledged his commitment as president to high-quality teaching, research that serves the public interest, expanded educational opportunity and institutional accountability.

"I am a first-generation college graduate whose life was transformed by educational opportunity," the Canadian-born Dynes told the Regents. "As an immigrant, I came to America because of my belief that anything is possible in this country if you work hard and apply yourself. As a physicist, I have a passion for discovering new ideas, and an even greater passion for watching my students discover new ideas. Last but not least, I am a Californian, and I am as dazzled by this radiant and richly diverse state now as I was when I arrived 12 years ago.

"I am elated by the prospect of taking the helm of the premier university in the world, a place where the very best come to study, to work and to learn," Dynes said. "Sustaining the quality of the UC system will be my priority and my privilege as president."

Under Dynes' chancellorship at UCSD, faculty and student quality remained high, academic breadth expanded, ambitious management goals were met, and the campus addressed many key California and national issues.

During his time as UCSD chancellor, student enrollments grew 25 percent and graduation rates remained high; a new pharmacy school and management school were established; freshman seminar offerings were expanded; a new undergraduate college was established; outreach programs to public schools in the region were expanded; research expenditures increased 36 percent; the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology was launched with UC Irvine; income from technology transfer increased 76 percent; an initiative to improve staff retention and support was launched; a $1 billion fundraising campaign began, of which nearly half has been raised; and the campus worked with San Diego State University to coordinate a regional homeland security network.

Today, UCSD ranks sixth among American universities in federal awards for research, seventh in the number of faculty elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and seventh among public universities in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

"I could not be more pleased to have Bob Dynes succeed me as president," Atkinson said. "He is a first-rate scholar, a highly capable manager and a deeply compassionate individual. His record of performance as chancellor, his commitment to the core values of the University of California and his vision for the future will make him a superb president."

Dynes also is intimately familiar with the three national laboratories UC manages for the federal government. He is vice chair of the University of California President's Council on the National Laboratories and a member of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Oversight Board. In addition, he has had a 25-year association with the national laboratories as an adviser and consultant to the physics research and weapons programs.

The Regents approved a salary of $395,000 per year for the new president. That figure is 18 percent less than the $465,872 average presidential salary of the public and private universities across the nation that UC uses for salary-comparison purposes. It is consistent with the $394,640 average presidential salary of UC's public comparison institutions.

A self-described "lower middle-class kid who almost chose an ice hockey career over college," Dynes grew up in London, Ontario, Canada, and is a naturalized United States citizen. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Western Ontario and master's and doctoral degrees in physics from McMaster University.

At AT&T Bell Laboratories, Dynes served as department head of semiconductor and material physics research and director of chemical physics research. Joining UC San Diego in 1991, he founded an interdisciplinary laboratory where chemists, electrical engineers and private industry researchers, joined by graduate and undergraduate students, investigate the properties of metals, semiconductors and superconductors.

His numerous scientific honors include the 1990 Fritz London Award in Low Temperature Physics and his 1989 election to the National Academy of Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

At UCSD, Dynes served as chairman of the department of physics and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs before becoming chancellor in July 1996. He is married to Frances Dynes Hellman, an expert on magnetic and superconducting materials who is a professor of physics at UC San Diego. President-designate Dynes has one daughter from a previous marriage and two grandchildren.

Dynes told the Regents that he is eager to lead the UC system as it confronts the twin pressures of rising enrollments and falling state resources.

"These same pressures are being felt by other universities in other states," he said. "There is a national consensus that American public universities must redefine how they deliver quality higher education. And the rest of the country is looking to the University of California to lead the way."

Dynes said UC must work in "vigorous partnership" with the state's other segments of public higher education--the California State University and the California Community Colleges--to serve the state's needs. The university must also continue its efforts to expand the concept of "R & D" to "R, D & D,"--meaning "research, development and delivery" to ensure that research innovations end up in the hands of people who will use them.

"We must move discoveries from the bench to the public domain more effectively," Dynes said. "And we must hand them off more quickly to end-users, whether they are first responders in a crisis, farmers, health care professionals, social workers, or teachers."

Dynes also told the board that the educational experience of UC undergraduates will remain a high priority for him. "I believe their education is the single most important thing that this university does, and their future achievements will be our most lasting legacy," Dynes said.

The University of California, founded in 1868, today is widely considered the preeminent public university system in the world. UC enrolls more than 200,000 students and employs more than 160,000 faculty and staff.

Its campuses are consistently at or near the top of national and international rankings for academic quality, and 44 of its faculty members have been awarded the Nobel Prize.

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