Steve A. Kay to be new dean of USC Dornsife


Steve A. Kay, a biology professor from UC San Diego, was appointed the 21st Dean of the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. Kay will also hold the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair. The selection was announced in a letter sent electronically to Dornsife faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters. The letter was sent by Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

During his time at UCSD, Kay developed experience as a researcher and as an administrator. Kay served as dean of the Division of Biological Sciences at UCSD and has held the Richard C. Atkinson Chair in Biological Sciences since 2007.

Kay, whose background is in genetics and genomics, serves as Distinguished Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at UCSD. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Bristol. Kay has also held positions at Rockefeller University, the University of Virginia and the Scripps Research Institute.

Garrett’s letter also highlighted Kay’s research, which aims to understand the regulatory networks of cells.

“Applications of his discoveries include development of novel drugs, agricultural biotechnology and bioenergy production,” Garrett wrote in the letter. “He has published over 200 papers and is named by [Information Sciences Institute] as a highly cited scientist.”

His research was cited in Science magazine’s “Breakthroughs of the Year” in 1997, 1998 and 2002, according to the letter.

Kay has received several awards and honors, including his election as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2008 and his election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009. Additionally, he was the recipient of the UCSD Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Award for Excellence in Research in 2010.

Kay will effectively assume his post Oct. 1, according to the letter. Current Dornsife dean Howard Gillman plans to step down from the position June 30. Executive Vice Provost Michael Quick will take on the dean’s responsibilities in the interim. The letter said Quick will be aided during the transition by the college’s Vice Deans Steven Lamy, George Sanchez and Donal Manahan.

In the letter, Garrett thanked Gillman for his work as dean of Dornsife since 2007.

“During his tenure, graduation rates increased, improvements were made to the quality of Ph.D. programs, non-tenure-track faculty promotion pathways were created, and many outstanding new faculty member at all ranks were recruited,” Garrett wrote in the letter.

  • Andrew Kajmo

    Really disappointing choice. Only in one national academy?