July 21, 2021

Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

I am writing to share with you that, after ten years of extraordinary leadership and devoted service as our Dean of Engineering and Richard A. Auhll professor, Dr. Rod Alferness has decided to retire on September 21, 2021.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Dean Alferness’s exemplary leadership of our College of Engineering and his contributions to fostering a vibrant intellectual environment that is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative, and that encourages teaching, research, and contributing to our society by improving the quality of health and life at the frontiers of engineering.

Under his leadership, our College of Engineering has achieved new heights of excellence, including adding a Nobel Prize among our Engineering faculty, becoming the West Coast hub of AIM Photonics, completing our cutting-edge BioEngineering Building, and opening the doors of state-of-the-art Henley Hall to house our Institute for Energy Efficiency, among many other accomplishments. Dean Alferness and our engineering faculty have also been vital partners in the establishment of our NSF-funded Quantum Foundry, the very first in the nation. He has nurtured the growth of Technology Management, a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship on our campus. And he has helped and supported the establishment of our newly approved Ph.D. program in Biological Engineering, with our first cohort planned for Fall 2022. In 2017, our College of Engineering celebrated 50 years of enterprising research, bold innovation, and dynamic teaching, a legacy Dean Alferness has helped to build and a rich history to which he has contributed.

Dr. Alferness first joined UC Santa Barbara as our Richard A. Auhll Professor and Dean of Engineering in 2011, after 35 years at Bell Labs. Internationally renowned for his work in optoelectronics and electrical engineering, he served as Chief Scientist of Bell Labs, overseeing long-term strategy, government and university partnerships, and technical excellence programs. Prior, he led Bell Labs’ global research laboratories as Senior Vice President of Research. 

Dean Alferness is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and of the Optical Society of America (OSA). Dr. Alferness has been recognized with the 2001 IEEE Millennium Award, the 2005 IEEE Photonics Award, and the 2010 OSA Leadership Award. In 2018, he was selected as Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and received the OSA's highest honor, the Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus Quinn Prize. He has served as President of the OSA and of the IEEE Photonics Society. He is the author of more than 100 journal articles, and holds more than 30 patents for his work in optoelectronics and optical networks. 

I will consult with our engineering and campus colleagues in order to appoint an Acting Dean very shortly. I will also move forward quickly to consult with our campus community and form an advisory committee to conduct a national search for our next Dean of Engineering.

Please join me in extending our warmest congratulations and best wishes to Dean Alferness and his wife, Deanna. We offer our collective thanks for his visionary leadership and countless contributions to our campus community. 


Henry T. Yang