UC Davis alumnus Harris Lewin is returning to campus as the new Vice Chancellor of Research. Lewin finished his doctorate at UC Davis in 1984 and went on to become a researcher and faculty member at the University of Illinois for the past 26 years. Lewin’s annual base salary will be $370,000, compared to previous Vice Chancellor Barry Klein’s salary of $237,400.
What factors were taken into consideration in making your decision to come to UC Davis and taking on this new position as Vice Chancellor?
First, the position offered me the opportunity to do big things and move the institution forward on many levels, especially in interdisciplinary research and technology transfer. The second thing was that I firmly believe in Chancellor Linda Katehi’s leadership and her commitment to really raise the profile of the University of California, Davis. Also, I am an alum and I care deeply about the university. I would like to see every graduate student have the opportunities that I had when I completed my degree in 1984.
What is your vision for the future of research at Davis and how do you plan to achieve these goals?
I believe Davis should be in the top five public universities and in the top 10 in research funding. The vision is really to bring Davis to super elite status among the public universities, and to do that you have to have the resources to invest in the best and the brightest faculty and students and to enhance the research info structure. That means having the highest research capabilities in terms of research laboratories, as well as Internet connectivity and all other aspects of the research info structure that will allow faculty to achieve those goals.
In the last year Davis has changed some of its faculty while increasing their pay. Meanwhile, student fees are on the rise. What do you think of the expected fee hike and the protests that may follow?
I am sorry to see that is happening, both the raising of student fees and protests that will likely follow. However, with the state reducing its funding to the university and the university facing skyrocketing costs, the university has no choice but to raise fees to cover those costs. The students certainly do have the right to protest and their voices should be heard. The campus administration needs to do everything possible to keep the university affordable for Californians. I know a lot of discussion is going on at the campus level. I am sure the university will do everything it can to provide scholarships for those most in need.
What would your advice be to a student interested in progressing in the field of research?
Being a researcher to me is the most intellectually rewarding profession. Researchers are the most respected members of our society. To be a researcher is a privilege. Students interested in research should definitely do an undergraduate research project. I know that Davis has many programs to support undergraduate research. Every student interested in research should take advantage of that while at Davis. This is what distinguishes a major research university from a four-year liberal arts college where there are no such opportunities for undergraduate students. So, do everything you can to get yourself into a lab and be helpful. Never give up if research if your passion. Discovery is the basis for innovation and innovation is necessary for creating new economic opportunity and a better world.
JASPREET BAHIA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.