David Culler, a campus electrical engineering and computer science professor, has been appointed interim dean for the newly created Division of Data Sciences, according to a campus press release.
Incoming Chancellor Carol Christ announced Culler had been appointed for a two-year term beginning July 1, and called the decision part of an effort to “solidify the place of data science amongst our academic offerings and research landscape.”
“It’s just incredibly exciting. The faculty and students here are really creating what is the research university of the 21st century,” Culler said in reference to the new data science division. “It’s still early on, but I think Berkeley is making history here.”
Culler originally joined the campus as a junior transfer in 1978 and received a bachelor of arts in mathematics from UC Berkeley in 1980. He joined the campus faculty in 1989 and served as the EECS chair and associate chief information officer for the College of Engineering.
Culler also served as the co-director of the UC Berkeley Data Science Planning Initiative, a campuswide strategy to create pathways for fields around data and computing in student education, faculty and research programs. The data science initiative includes the outlining of a data science education program “that would be accessible to the entire student body,” according to Culler.
“Professor Culler’s experience on the Berkeley campus, coupled with his significant accomplishments in his field, position him to provide outstanding leadership for this exciting new academic endeavor, and we are thrilled to have him at its forefront,” Christ said in the press release.
Culler said one of his roles as interim dean is to “shepherd” the operational and administrative structure of the new division to serve the needs of students, faculty and researchers across campus.
Citing the campus’s Data Science 8 course and a pilot Data Science 100 series, Culler added that one of his most immediate, concrete goals is the approval of a data science major program, adding that his hope is to have the program approved in the coming semester.
Professor Dan Garcia, a teaching professor at the campus electrical engineering and computer science department, said the new data science division is an “exciting opportunity for other departments who have always wanted to connect data science with their field,” and added that the new division is a “perfect opportunity” for the campus to take initiative.
Garcia said Culler brings a rare combination of leadership expertise and passion for data science, adding that he expects Culler to bring consensus to issues and connect people.
“We’re in great hands — I could not think of a better person to lead the charge,” Garcia said. “He is a dynamic leader taking us forward. The next few years should be very exciting.”