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University appoints Burnside, Mason to administrative posts

By Marie Felde, Public Affairs
Posted June 7, 2000

Two distinguished women professors have been named to senior leadership positions by Chancellor Berdahl.

Professor Mary Beth Burnside, 57, former dean of the biological sciences and a former Chancellor's Professor, becomes vice chancellor for research in January 2001. Mary Ann Mason, 56, professor of social welfare, becomes the new dean of the Graduate Division on August 1.

"I am delighted that such distinguished Berkeley faculty members as Beth Burnside and Mary Ann Mason have agreed to serve the campus in these important positions," said Berdahl.

Burnside and Mason will assume the duties of Joseph Cerny, a nuclear chemist, who has had held the dual position of vice chancellor for research and dean of the Graduate Division since 1994. He plans to return to research.

As vice chancellor, Burnside will administer more than $400 million in state, federal and private research grants awarded annually to Berkeley faculty and researchers.

Burnside, a cell biologist, was dean of the biological sciences from 1983 to 1990 and oversaw its restructuring. The 10-year effort involved 10,700 students, 200 faculty scientists and 11 academic departments and, at the time, was the largest reorganization of research and teaching ever undertaken at a university.

"My goal as vice chancellor is to make it as easy as I can for faculty and students to do research on this campus. Berkeley has an extraordinarily creative and talented faculty. You don't have to motivate them, you just have to get out of the way," said Burnside.

Burnside, who teaches biology 1A and an upper division cell biology course to undergraduates, runs a research laboratory studying mechanisms of movement in light sensitive photoreceptors of the retina, movements that are critical to photoreceptor survival and vision. Her studies seek to identify cell components whose function goes awry to produce retinal degeneration in humans. She plans to continue her research as vice chancellor.

A Texas native, Burnside received her B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. in zoology and developmental biology at the University of Texas at Austin. She joined the Berkeley faculty in 1975 as an assistant professor in anatomy. She became a full professor in 1982 and was honored as a Chancellor's Professor in 1996.

As the Graduate Division's new dean, Mason will lead one of the nation's largest graduate programs with more than 8,000 students and 100 programs.

"I'm delighted to have this opportunity," said Mason. "This is a critical time to plan the future. We must safeguard the excellent quality of our graduate education in these changing times."

Mason said she will work to keep Berkeley competitive with private colleges in recruiting top students by building a large endowment for graduate students. She also faces the challenge of maintaining diversity among graduate students. As acting associate dean for the Graduate Division, two years ago she established a parental leave policy for graduate students.

A professor in the School of Social Welfare for 11 years since her arrival at Berkeley in 1989, Mason has gained a national reputation as an expert on family and child law. She completed her undergraduate studies at Vassar College, earned a Ph.D. in history in 1971 from the University of Rochester and received her law degree from the University of San Francisco in 1976.

Mason plans to continue teaching her course on children and the law and pursuing her research on child and family policy while fulfilling the dean's role.

The appointments are the first of five positions in the campus's senior management that are expected to be filled before the fall semester begins. The openings are a result of a restructuring of the senior administration that Berdahl said is aimed at seizing opportunities in teaching, technology and research as the campus heads into the new century.


June 7 - July 11, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 34)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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