January 21, 2016

Dear Members of our Campus Community:

It is with mixed feelings that I write to share the news that our Vice Chancellor for Research, Dr. Michael Witherell, has been confirmed today by the UC Board of Regents as the next Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, effective March 1, 2016. This honorable and prestigious appointment by the Regents, based on President Janet Napolitano’s recommendation and with the concurrence of the U.S. Department of Energy, provides an excellent opportunity for Michael. But his departure is a tremendous loss for our UC Santa Barbara family.

Serving as our Vice Chancellor for Research for nearly 11 years, Dr. Witherell has provided strong and visionary leadership to our campus. We have seen a steady increase in our annual extramural research expenditures, from $165 million in 2005 to $227 million today. We have continued to enhance our proud tradition of interdisciplinary and inclusive research, and established significant new research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. His impact on our campus has been far-reaching as he has made valuable contributions to our administration, academics, fundraising, and student affairs.

During this time, he also has held a UC Presidential Chair in our Physics Department. Dr. Witherell is a leading physicist with a long and distinguished career in teaching, research, and public service. He previously was a member of our UC Santa Barbara faculty from 1981 until 1999, before moving on to serve as director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois for six years. Dr. Witherell received his B.S. degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has received numerous prestigious honors for his achievements and contributions, including election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society’s W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

I am excited and proud that Berkeley Lab is gaining a superb leader as its next director. But this news is also bittersweet for our UC Santa Barbara community, because we are losing a dear colleague and friend. We will consult with our Academic Senate, faculty, and administrative colleagues to identify an Acting Vice Chancellor for Research as well as to form a search advisory committee for this important position.

Please join me in congratulating Michael. We thank him for his countless contributions to our campus, and we wish him and Beth all the best.


Henry T. Yang