Announcement: Dean of the Division of Math and Physical Sciences

November 19, 2019

Dear Campus Leaders and  Math & Physical Sciences community,

On behalf of Chancellor Christ and myself, I am very pleased to announce that Frances Hellman has been reappointed as dean of the Division of Math & Physical Sciences (MPS) for a second five-year term, beginning January 1, 2020. 

Since becoming dean in 2015, Dean Hellman has served MPS with a deep passion and commitment. During her tenure, the MPS departments have all ranked among the top three nationally. She has strengthened the division by overseeing a large number of new faculty hires, and played a vital role in many successfully retention cases, despite aggressive competition from well-funded, top universities. Supporting the division’s teaching mission, she has promoted effective teaching practices, improved teaching evaluation policies, and provided leadership to the departments in dealing with the challenge of greatly increased enrollments in the context of shrinking funding.With the goal of keeping the division on a firm financial foundation, she created a more transparent and data-driven approach to determining the division’s budget allocations, substantially increased philanthropic support, and oversaw a large expansion of summer sessions and concurrent enrollments. 

Dean Hellman is deeply and personally committed to creating a culture within MPS and across campus that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion. Working to improve the experience of belonging for faculty, students, and staff, she has guided the division in an approach that faces climate issues head-on and constructively facilitates change and healing. She led a division-wide task force on sexual harassment that produced a comprehensive set of recommendations for the division and for campus, and has monitored their implementation. Dean Hellman enthusiastically supports the diversity strategic planning efforts of her departments, encouraging their efforts and aspirations to achieve equitable outcomes and communities that foster inclusion and belonging for all science students, faculty, and staff. The MPS dean’s office is a national leader of graduate and postdoctoral diversity-focused efforts and Dean Hellman has stepped forward to advance these priorities. At the undergraduate level, Dean Hellman has initiated a comprehensive approach to addressing MPS lower division gateway courses, including a donor-supported effort to help students prepare for their first year. She has also initiated a new task force to make recommendations for achieving equitable access and outcomes for all students interested in STEM, and particularly those intending to declare MPS majors.

Both within the MPS division and across campus, Dean Hellman has been a tireless advocate for science education as well as fundamental research. During her tenure, the Science@Cal and CalTeach programs expanded under the umbrella of the MPS division, in partnership with other campus entities. She has been a vocal proponent for a strong commitment to basic science in the campus strategic plan, and her partnership and support has been vital to the development of the new Division of Data Science and Information. 

Underlying all of these achievements are Dean Hellman’s thoughtful approach to decision-making and her signature direct, yet respectful, communication style. She exudes warmth, sincerity, and authenticity, and is known for her ability to listen to and work with diverse voices. 

I am thrilled that Dean Hellman has agreed to serve a second term, and invite you to join me in congratulating her on her tremendous accomplishments and efforts to build the future success of the Division of Math and Physical Sciences


A. Paul Alivisatos Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost