Newest appointees round out Christ cabinet

July 31, 2017

No woman is an island.

A lot of attention has been focused on Carol Christ, but it's her new cabinet that will make or break her tenure.

Christ's appointees are all well qualified. It's nice that a lot of them come from UC Berkeley. That some of them have already worked closely with Christ speaks volumes to the team's larger potential.

All in all, not too shabby. Here's the breakdown of the five newest appointees.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost: Paul Alivisatos

Some seemed to expect Paul Alivisatos would become chancellor. Instead, Christ named him provost.

Alivisatos very well could win a Nobel Prize in the future, and outside of his chops as a scientist, he's been steeled in administration. Alivisatos ran the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from 2009 to 2016.

He's a good choice in many eyes because he's very much a part of UC Berkeley's research mission, having served as the vice chancellor of research before this appointment.

He's also been highly outspoken about diversity and inclusion within the scientific community, which is a relief to see in STEM fields. Though of course, even as a pro-diversity candidate, Alivisatos isn't exactly a diverse pick.

Still, in relation to the likes of Claude Steele and Nicholas Dirks, two out-of-towners without much stake in UC Berkeley, Alivisatos and Christ mark a stark contrast, as both have logged considerable time on the campus.

In summary: He's Wonder Bread, and he has the potential to complement Christ greatly.

Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion: Oscar Dubón, Jr.

A professional history with diversity in science was clearly a priority in this new pick. That was Oscar Dubón, Jr's schtick as associate dean of equity and inclusion in the College of Engineering. As the upcoming vice chancellor of equity and inclusion, a focus on STEM diversity could be Dubón, Jr.'s central pivot.

Last month, Dubón, Jr. said in an email to The Daily Californian that he intends to study the work that already took place under former vice chancellor of equity and inclusion Na'ilah Nasir's leadership. During her tenure, Nasir already established the STEM Diversity Initiative. Dubón, Jr. can only hope to accomplish the sort of strides that Nasir did in her time here.

Still he's done a great deal. Dubón, Jr. established the Center for Access to Engineering Excellence and, like Alivisatos, has experience dealing with diversity in STEM. Hopefully he can translate that experience into his new position.

Vice Chancellor Chief Financial Officer: Rosemarie Rae

Rosemarie Rae took on a position that she basically already had.

Rae came on in 2014 as associate vice chancellor and CFO. In spring 2016, campus announced that it had a structural deficit amounting to about $150 million. Rae entered the administration and found a mess. It took her and her team roughly two years to sort through the deficit before the campus could get a handle on the extent of the disastrous finances.

Now, with a recent reshuffling of administrative financial duties, Rae has taken over as the new vice chancellor chief financial officer.

Balancing the budget is a central piece of Christ's plan. Rae has an enormous amount of power in conveying financial information in the pursuit of that budget.

She already worked closely with Christ when Christ was interim EVCP. They have made clear that they're committed to balancing the budget through revenue generation and not simply cuts. That said, budget cuts are still on the table, and last year they required all campus units to make cuts to their operating budgets, focusing on personnel.

It's encouraging that she works so closely with Christ, and the strict financial shepherding she's been doing, particularly in the face of long-standing state divestment, is important. Hopefully she's careful with those cuts all the same.

Vice Chancellor Chief of Staff: Khira Griscavage

Khira Griscavage is incredibly qualified for her appointment as Christ's chief of staff, having served in positions in the public sector, in finance and in everything in between. She's clearly not in it for the big bucks at present, if she's working here now.

She will continue to fulfill responsibilities she had under Dirks, as chief ethics, risk and compliance officer and as locally designated official. She's newly chief of staff, and it's unclear whether she's going to be phased out or replaced in any of her other various positions.

Regardless, with a background heavy in finance and an apparent ability to juggle so many balls in the air, she seems well equipped to be chief of staff.

Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs: Diana Harvey

Diana Harvey was appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs and will begin serving August 1.

Harvey is fresh out of a long stint at Duke University, where her continued commitment to global public health and her excellent work earned her respect. Her prior experience at the University of Minnesota provided her with a similar kind of experience one might need to run a campus like UC Berkeley.

At a campus that often becomes the center of national news, stories — particularly regarding free speech — often get reported in sensationalist ways. Harvey faces a tall order in ensuring that campus communications teams attempt to quell the spread of misinformation while becoming increasingly transparent.

It will be interesting to see how she handles PR for the budget cuts. Will she facilitate the kind of administrative transparency that Christ is promising?

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

The Daily Californian