David Ackerly reappointed for second term as Rausser College Dean

January 19, 2023
David Ackerly in a forest

Photo by Mathew Burciaga.

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ben Hermalin announced today that Professor David Ackerly has been reappointed as dean of Rausser College of Natural Resources for a second five-year term.

“On behalf of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters of Rausser College, I want to congratulate Dean Ackerly on his reappointment and thank him for his leadership and inspiration,” said Dennis Baldocchi, executive associate dean and director of agriculture and natural resource programs at Rausser College. “We look forward to working with him to advance the goals of the College—educating the next generation of environmental problem solvers, fostering cutting-edge research, and leading outreach to our citizens and neighbors.”

Throughout his first term, Ackerly has strengthened the College’s commitment to excellence, access, and engagement and stewarded Berkeley’s land-grant mission. He has prioritized increasing support for graduate students and enriching the experiences of undergraduates, and promoted collaborations between Rausser College and other units across campus. Notable partnerships include the California-China Climate Institute with Berkeley Law and The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center for Data Science and Environment with the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society. Under Ackerly’s leadership, Rausser College has launched a Master of Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics program, and has proposals in progress for a self-supporting Master of Climate Solutions degree program and concurrent degree with the Haas MBA.

"Dean Ackerly is a highly active and valued member of the Council of Deans," said Christ and Hermalin in a campus email. "He is a knowledgeable and thoughtful leader, especially around issues related to climate change; and in addition, he is a valuable and collaborative partner in addressing shared challenges and working on joint initiatives.” 

Ackerly has made diversity, equity, and inclusion a core focus, appointing Profesor Isha Ray as the College’s first Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion in 2020. He also led the campus-wide Climate Equity and Environmental Justice cluster initiative, which recruited top faculty members working in the areas of climate mitigation, adaptation, and sustainable development with an equity and environmental justice lens.

A professor and students at a dinner

Dean David Ackerly with undergraduates in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology during a "dinner with the dean" event in 2021. Photo by Anjika Pai.

Ackerly has furthered the College’s fundraising efforts throughout Berkeley’s Light the Way campaign, and serves as the academic lead of the campaign’s Energy, Climate, and Environment theme. Total contributions to the College during the campaign total over $162 million so far. During his tenure, the College was renamed after a generous gift from Gordon Rausser, former dean of the college and professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics.

After a thorough listening and research process, Ackerly has also conducted a systematic strategic planning process, and will release a new strategic plan for Rausser College in the coming months. “Dean Ackerly embodies the college’s motto of ‘See the Bigger Picture. Make a Better World,’” said Michael Colvin (BS ’05 Environmental Economics and Policy, MPP ’07 Public Policy), chair of the Rausser College Advisory Board. “His leadership in guiding Rausser College is both inclusive and expansive. I applaud his reappointment as dean.”

A plant ecologist and evolutionary biologist, Ackerly has faculty appointments in the Departments of Environmental, Science, Policy, and Management and Integrative Biology. His academic work brings together multidisciplinary teams to explore broad research areas including the effects of climate change on biodiversity, the integration of phylogenetics and ecology, and novel approaches to conservation biology.