UC Berkeley News


Benefiting faculty into the future
Vice Provost Jan de Vries, who steps down June 30, set the bar for programs to support faculty

| 02 May 2007

After seven years as the campus's first Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Faculty Welfare, Jan de Vries will step down on June 30, leaving strengthened campus mechanisms for recruiting, retaining, and supporting faculty.

A professor of both history and economics, de Vries has overseen all aspects of the academic-personnel process through a challenging period of state budget cuts. He also has directed work toward faculty equity and academic compliance, and guided such varied units as the Berkeley Retirement Center, the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, and the Energy and Resources Group.

Jan de Vries (Peg Skorpinski photo)

De Vries was appointed in 2000, when his post was created; it was one of three new vice provost positions that were key components of a restructuring of the senior administration by former Chancellor Robert Berdahl and former Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Gray. De Vries said he took on the role to meet the challenge to "renew and further develop the best faculty in the world."

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer said the campus is indebted to de Vries "for his role in sustaining the excellence of the faculty and Berkeley's preeminence."

"The programs and policies that Jan initiated will benefit the campus far into the future," he says. "His low-key and insightful approach to problem-solving has enabled him to overcome obstacles of complexity and contentiousness that would have frustrated many an academic administrator."

As a result of de Vries' efforts and his work in shaping the job, the campus launched key initiatives to improve faculty compensation, including instituting a $6,000 promotion increment for assistant professors advancing to associate-professor rank. With the "tenure bump," which went into effect last July, "we will hopefully signal to faculty that the campus is serious about restoring competitiveness to Berkeley's compensation package," de Vries said.

It also was de Vries' proposal to establish the Berkeley Retirement Incentive Program, which provided modest financial incentives to faculty considering retirement but still engaged in research and graduate education. In addition, he worked on a instituting a string of family-friendly UC policies for faculty.

De Vries, the Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History, will return to research and teaching in history and economics, where he has continued to be an active scholar. He co-edited the five volumes of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History (Oxford University Press, 2003), and the latest of his many articles, "The Dutch Atlantic Economies," is forthcoming in The Atlantic Economy of the Eighteenth Century (University of South Carolina Press).

Prior to serving as vice provost, de Vries had a strong record of service on committees of the Academic Senate and served as chair of the Department of History from 1978-91.

The campus is expected to announce a successor in the vice provost position by the end of May.

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