June 8, 1998
Michael Tanner (left) and lecturer in music William Coulter entertained approximately 125 guests during a predinner concert on May 30. (More photos)
By Elizabeth Irwin
After nine years characterized by challenge and change, Michael Tanner leaves the executive vice chancellor's position at the end of June. The legacy of his leadership includes the expansion of UCSC's curriculum, the selection of a distinguished array of new faculty--more than half of the current UCSC faculty have been hired in the past nine years--the development of more open and efficient administrative processes, and the decentralization of budget responsibilities. And to help celebrate the culmination of nearly a decade's service in the position, Tanner joined classical guitarist William Coulter in a musical performance that highlighted a farewell dinner at University House on May 30.
A computer and information theory expert, Tanner is returning to full-time pursuit of his academic specialty, coding theory. Next year he will conduct research on high-speed error correction and engage with colleagues at MIT and Caltech as a visiting professor.
"Michael Tanner has offered yeoman's service to the university, helping us develop creative institutional responses to change and opportunity. For me personally, he's been a very good friend and a much-appreciated guide," said Chancellor Greenwood at the meeting of the Academic Senate on May 27.
In her comments at the same senate meeting, professor Helene Moglen, senate chair, thanked Tanner for his contributions to the campus. She noted that he has served "during difficult transitional years, in which difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions had to be made," and she concluded, "He leaves us far stronger than he found us."
Accepting the position as academic vice chancellor in 1989, Tanner was named executive vice chancellor after the arrival of Chancellor Karl Pister. In that role, he also ensured effective day-to-day operations of the campus, and, in the absence of the chancellor, he assumed urgent chancellorial responsibilities.
In the early 1990s, when the University of California experienced what many have characterized as the most severe reductions in state funding in its history, Tanner implemented a fair and decentralized budget process that placed responsibility for budget planning in the hands of the deans and other unit administrators. Social sciences dean Martin Chemers notes, "He has brought order out of chaos. The development of careful and comprehensive planning and budgeting principles has made it possible for us to understand our costs and respond appropriately to opportunities. This is a very great achievement."
Despite the stringent fiscal environment, during Tanner's leadership the campus has expanded its academic offerings. For example, art history, women's studies, and ocean sciences have been elevated to become departments. Tanner also provided initiative and support for numerous new and expanding majors, such as Latin American and Latino studies, environmental toxicology, electrical engineering, business management economics, the B.M. degree in music, and the Ph.D. in ocean sciences. Graduate degrees in electrical engineering and applied mathematics anticipated in the near future.
Private gifts helped provide the funding for many of the new programs, such as the gifts that supported the Jack Baskin School of Engineering and several endowed chairs in the arts, in the humanities, and in the social sciences. "Michael provided important guidance in helping mature our fund-raising efforts," recalls Assistant Chancellor Daniel Aldrich. "The Academic Advisory Board for Development, which he and former chancellor Pister helped create, has played a key role in establishing fund-raising priorities, goals, and processes for financing the advancement program."
To complement the burgeoning academic program, Tanner's leadership contributed greatly to the expansion of campus facilities. The completion of Social Sciences 1 and 2, the award-winning Science Library, the stunning music Recital Hall, the nearly completed Improvements to the Arts projects, and the completion of state-of-the-art videoconferencing facilities all provide tangible reminders of the service, initiative, and productivity of the Tanner years.
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