In 2015 College of Arts and Sciences Dean Debbie Tahmassebi took the helm of the largest academic unit at Santa Clara University to tackle the University’s bold new vision and innovative approach to liberal education—including a STEM project to foster convergence and collaboration within the sciences and engineering, and the launch of a new Center for the Arts and Humanities. In her short time at Santa Clara. Dr. Tahmassebi’s leadership has inspired initiatives and stimulated research and creative projects across disciplines with faculty, students, and Silicon Valley partners.
She says she feels privileged to be part of Santa Clara University at this creative and exciting time of dramatic transformation, “Santa Clara’s vision, its integrated strategic plan Santa Clara 2020, new interdisciplinary initiatives, and innovative approach to liberal arts education are all critical components that will allow it to make a lasting impact in Silicon Valley and around the globe.”
The University’s College of Arts and Sciences—with 3,400 students, 350 faculty members, and 130 full- and part-time staff—is the largest academic unit on the Mission Campus. The College’s 26 departments and academic programs offer more than 35 undergraduate degree programs and help provide a liberal arts curriculum to all Santa Clara undergraduates.
Her interest in the collaboration among disciplines serves the SCU students and faculty well; the Center for the Arts and Humanities draws from both traditional forms of expression and the latest in digital technologies and literally has no boundaries as it fosters interdisciplinary collaboration in research, teaching, service, and creative activity both on campus and in the community, locally and globally. The Center merges the Jesuit passion for scholarly excellence and service with the explosion of creativity which is Silicon Valley.
Coming from the University of San Diego, where she had worked since 1999, Dr. Tahmassebi served in several leadership positions including associate dean of program development in the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Dean Tahmassebi earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego and went on to earn her Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Washington. As a professor at USD, she worked with undergraduate students to synthesize and study the structure of non-natural DNA.