Francis Doyle, Professor at UCSB, Named Next SEAS Dean

UPDATED: May 14, 2015, at 9:54 p.m.

Francis J. Doyle III, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara, will lead the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences as its next dean starting August 1, taking the helm in the midst of the school’s scheduled move to Allston.

Doyle takes the place of interim SEAS Dean and former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, who has been in the position since January, after former SEAS Dean Cherry A. Murray officially stepped down.

Doyle will oversee the school’s $450 million capital campaign and its scheduled move across the Charles River to Allston, to which two thirds of SEAS faculty are slated to relocate in 2019.

Doyle is also associate dean for research at UCSB’s College of Engineering and the chair of chemical engineering at the school. His systems biology lab, currently based in Santa Barbara, Calif., will move to Cambridge in August, according to the lab’s website.


“[Frank] brings to the deanship a keen understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing schools of engineering and applied sciences today,” Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith, who selected Doyle for the post, said in a press release Thursday.

Donald E. Ingber, a bioengineering professor who sat on the SEAS dean search committee, noted Doyle’s experience directing an institute that spans across multiple campuses and many faculty, the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies.

Doyle is “an experienced administrator who seems to be very good at dealing with diverse communities and institutions,” Ingber said. “A a time when Harvard is expanding into Allston, I think that will be a great advantage.”

Engineering professor Robert D. Howe, who was a member of the search’s advisory committee, said that Doyle will be the first SEAS dean who is an engineer by training, which he said he thinks denotes a growing emphasis on the engineering aspect of SEAS. He also added that the last two deans of SEAS have been appointed from outside of the Harvard faculty.

According to Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science Steven C. Wofsy, Doyle has experience in fundraising, but he would not specify what type of experience. Members of the search committee said that they looked specifically for experience in fundraising when assessing different candidates, and that all of the finalists had some degree of fundraising experience.

“He has the kind of vision and winning personality which I think make him an exceptional fundraiser,” Howe said.

The SEAS dean search advisory committee, which was comprised of about 15 faculty members from across SEAS, spent the past semester surveying a wide pool of candidates and eventually made recommendations to Smith.

Alejandro J. Laguna Sanz, a postdoctoral fellow at Doyle’s research lab, said he thinks Doyle will be successful managing SEAS given his prior work at UCSB.

“He is an exceptional leader and manager,” Sanz said.

He added that members of the lab are still deciding whether they will relocate to Cambridge along with Doyle.

Doyle and Lewis were both unavailable for comment by press time due to travel.

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @meg_bernhard.


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