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Behzad Mortazavi Named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Gretchen Ritter today announced the selection of Behzad Mortazavi as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). Mortazavi comes to Syracuse University from the University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences, where he is chair and professor of biological sciences. His appointment, which was approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, is effective July 1, 2023.
“Behzad Mortazavi is an experienced academic administrator with an impressive track record of success in research and scholarship,” Provost Ritter says. “His collaborative leadership style will be an asset not only to the College of Arts and Sciences but also to the University at large as he works with his fellow deans and with me to enhance liberal arts and sciences education.”
As dean of A&S, Mortazavi will report to Provost Ritter and be part of the Academic Deans’ Cabinet and the Chancellor’s Council. He will be responsible for enhancing the student experience and student success; inspiring innovative, impactful and interdisciplinary research and collaboration; prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, access and belonging; managing fiscal resources; and attracting and retaining talented and exceptional faculty and students, ensuring the continued success of the college.
“I am delighted to have the privilege of serving as the next dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University,” Mortazavi says. “Syracuse is an academic institution with a tradition of excellence. I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, students and University leadership to build on our successes and to collectively advance a vision for the future.”
In his current role at the University of Alabama, Mortazavi is responsible for the largest department in the College of Arts and Sciences, with oversight of 42 full-time faculty members, 1,900 undergraduate students and more than 100 graduate students. The department offers B.S., M.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees and generates more than $6 million in sponsored research each year. He also manages two off campus-properties: the University of Alabama Arboretum and the Tanglewood Biological Field Station.
Additionally, Mortazavi led the faculty in a two-year strategic planning process, established a diversity, equity and inclusivity committee in the department and hired 19 faculty members. He operates a research lab that has secured more than $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and other entities.
Mortazavi studied biology and marine ecology at the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie in Paris, and earned a Ph.D. in biological oceanography at Florida State University, where he served as a member of the research faculty before joining the University of Alabama in 2008. He also served as program director for the Division of Environmental Biology, Ecosystem Sciences Cluster at the National Science Foundation.
Provost Ritter offers her thanks to Professor Lois Agnew, who has served as interim dean of A&S since July. “With Lois, the College of Arts and Sciences has been in capable hands. I appreciate her partnership and her dedicated leadership as she has guided the college through this period of transition.”
The dean search committee, convened by Provost Ritter in September, was co-chaired by Heidi Hehnly, associate professor and the Renée Crown Professor in the Sciences and Mathematics, and Brice Nordquist, associate professor and Dean’s Professor of Community Engagement.