Professor of Biology David Chan has been appointed the new dean of graduate studies at Caltech, effective October 1, 2020.
Chan, who joined the Caltech faculty in 2000, will succeed the current graduate dean, Doug Rees, Caltech's Roscoe Gilkey Dickinson Professor of Chemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Rees is completing his five-year term in the administrative post.
"I am very excited for the opportunity to lead the graduate program at Caltech," Chan says. "When I look back at my own career, I realize the transformative effect of my graduate education; it was an important period during which I was exposed to new ideas, interacted with brilliant scientists, and grew personally. Therefore, I am highly motivated to give back to graduate education, and I can't think of a better place to do that than the world-class program at Caltech."
As graduate dean, Chan will be the principal administrator of Caltech's graduate education program, which supports more than 1,200 students across the Institute's six divisions and 31 graduate options. In this role, he will be responsible for leading the Dean of Graduate Studies Office and staff members, who represent graduate students' interests across Caltech; address students' welfare and educational concerns; support continuing and new diversity initiatives; and enforce the Institute's rules and policies related to the academic program.
"Doug Rees has been an extraordinarily thoughtful leader in the graduate dean's office," says Vice President for Student Affairs Kevin M. Gilmartin, who holds the Allen V.C. Davis and Lenabelle Davis Leadership Chair and is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English. "I have learned a great deal from our partnership in Student Affairs, and I know that our graduate students and graduate programs have benefitted immensely from his committed leadership.
"We are all fortunate that David Chan will be stepping into this role during this particularly challenging time," Gilmartin continues. "His commitment to our students is evident to all of us who have been involved with him and his research group through the years. As vice president for student affairs, I welcome the opportunity to work with yet another gifted faculty partner."
Chan has also served the Institute through his oversight of the Caltech-UCLA Medical Scientist Training Program, and he was recently appointed as vice chair of the faculty. He is the first member of the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering—formerly the Division of Biology—to serve as dean since this position was created in 1935, when Richard Tolman was appointed dean of the graduate school.
Chan will transition into his new post at a time when Caltech's academic program, including graduate student instruction this fall, is being offered remotely. Many incoming graduate and undergraduate students who come from other countries are prohibited from travel to the United States because of U.S. immigration policies, and have been granted the option to matriculate remotely. Furthermore, the Institute has had to reconfigure research operations and individuals' access to laboratories for experimental research as part of its comprehensive efforts to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.
"It's obvious that we are living in challenging times," Chan says, pointing to both the effects of the pandemic on campus research as well as a heightened focus on the Institute's efforts to increase and support diversity. "But I am ready to build on the efforts of my predecessor to continue to navigate these issues and to help advance initiatives that will increase the presence of individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups and strengthen our program overall."