Dornsife dean to step down after this year

Howard Gillman, dean of the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, has declined the offer to serve another term as dean, it was announced Monday.

Leaving · Dean Howard Gillman played an integral role in securing the $200-million naming donation from Dana and David Dornsife. - Daily Trojan file photo

Gillman served as the 20th dean of the school since 2007. Gillman will serve out the remainder of his current term, which ends at the end of this academic year.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett said Gillman resigned to focus on new challenges.

“He has told me that while he considers himself fortunate to have been able to lead his colleagues during these exciting times, he believes that after having spent eight years in important leadership roles at USC — as department chair, associate vice provost and dean — the time is right for him to explore new challenges and opportunities,” Garrett said in a memorandum sent to all USC Dornsife students.

Gillman joined the USC faculty in 1990 and has served as associate vice provost for research advancement and chair of the department of political science, in addition to being dean of USC Dornsife.

As dean, Gillman’s responsibilities have included overseeing USC Dornsife’s 33 academic departments and 31 research centers and institutes. Gillman has worked on recruiting new faculty, promoting innovation, expanding undergraduate opportunities to conduct research and increasing fundraising.

Under his leadership, USC Dornsife saw the creation of several interdisciplinary majors and minors, an increase in the graduation rate from 85 percent to 90 percent, the appointment of the first vice dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives and the creation of a number of new programs. Gillman worked to create a new block grant system for funding graduate programs, the Maymester and New Block Semester programs and the Student Opportunities for Academic Research and Summer Undergraduate Research Fund, respectively known as SOAR and SURF.

During his time as dean, USC Dornsife renewed the Center for Excellence in Genomic Sciences and the Southern California Earthquake Center. In 2010, the National Science Foundation funded the establishment of a $25 million Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations. External funding for research reached $76 million in 2010.

“Perhaps most notably, under his leadership, the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences received a transformative naming gift from Dana and David Dornsife,” Garrett said in a memorandum sent to all USC Dornsife students. “This gift of $200 million for unrestricted endowment is the largest single gift in the history of USC and the largest in the history of American higher education to name a college of arts and sciences.”

Garrett said Gillman will have overseen the recruitment of almost 100 new tenure-track faculty members across the humanities, social sciences and sciences by the end of this year.

Many students said Gillman has made a definite impact on USC.

“I think in those eight years he’s made a dramatic difference in the reputation of the college,” said Olivia Manayan, a junior majoring in neuroscience. “As a neuroscience major, I’ve been here three years and I’ve seen a dramatic change in my department. I would hope for the next dean to continue improving.”

Many hope Gillman will continue to create new programs that serve the undergraduate community during the rest of his term.

“Dean Gillman worked well with alumni in creating interest in the new programs and initiatives like the SOAR and SURF research programs,” said Casey Penk, a sophomore majoring in business administration and East Asian languages and cultures. “I’m impressed by the new programs he’s introduced and the way he’s used the funds to provide a richer undergraduate experience. If they could offer more opportunities for intellectual discussion, it would be great.”