February 29, 2016

Dear Members of our Campus Community:

I am writing to announce that after a decade of inspired and selfless leadership of our College of Creative Studies, Dean Bruce Tiffney has decided to return to teaching and research, effective July 1, 2016. I am honored to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Tiffney profoundly for his many extraordinary contributions to our campus community. We will be consulting with our Academic Senate, faculty, and administrative colleagues in order to form a search advisory committee for a national search for our next Dean of the College of Creative Studies.

Dr. Tiffney holds a Ph.D. in botany from Harvard University, following upon his B.A. degree in geology from Boston University. He served as Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor of Biology, and Curator of the D.C. Eaton Herbarium and the Paleobotanical Collections at the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University starting in 1977, before moving to UC Santa Barbara in 1986. His research focuses on the evolution of land plants as determined from the fossil record, and particularly the fossil record of their fruits and seeds. He is the author of more than 80 professional papers and one edited volume, and is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and member of numerous associations in his field. His passion for undergraduate education and his dedication to students are legendary, marked by the receipt of awards for outstanding teaching both at Yale and on our own campus.

Dr. Tiffney’s service as Dean is but one of his many contributions to university service and governance. He vigorously championed our library, and was instrumental in the early stages of the recently completed library expansion. He helped guide the renovation and expansion of the Faculty Club, now known as The Club, and he has played a pivotal role in the development of UC Santa Barbara’s reputation for leadership in sustainability.

This commitment to the common good informed the manner in which Bruce approached the Deanship of CCS. He emphasized throughout his tenure that CCS is integral to our campus, a partner in achieving the growing success and reputation of undergraduate education and research at UC Santa Barbara. Working with our campus and with the cognate departments and their faculty, the College of Creative Studies allows us to offer students opportunities that are beyond a single program. Bruce’s enthused doggedness, spirit, and distinctive style have energized the College, and our students, faculty, and staff. He has emphasized that “students are not in competition with each other, but rather collectively in competition with ignorance,” and that “the College itself is a philosophy of process, not of product. There is no finish line.”

Under his leadership, a sequence of national searches has generated an outstanding faculty of dedicated teachers. Our CCS Senate lecturers, shared with cognate departments, stand among the best in their disciplines, as evidenced by a string of Senate teaching awards. Under his leadership, CCS has strengthened its ties to its cognate departments, and CCS’s eight programs have been energized and enhanced. During his tenure, CCS has graduated 874 students – these students going on to graduate school in unprecedented numbers. One of the highlights of Bruce’s tenure as Dean came in 2009 when CCS graduate in biology Carol Greider (’83), now a professor at Johns Hopkins University, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Please join me in thanking Bruce and his wife, Robin, for their superb contributions to CCS, and in wishing them well as Bruce continues his extraordinary and enthusiastic scholarship and dedication to our campus.


Henry T. Yang