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March 2015

Santa Clara University Names Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Santa Clara University has recruited Dr. Deborah Tahmassebi from the University of San Diego to serve as Santa Clara’s new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. Mar 2, 2015—Santa Clara University has recruited Dr. Deborah Tahmassebi from the University of San Diego to serve as Santa Clara’s new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She will begin her duties on August 1, 2015.

Tahmassebi will provide overall academic, administrative, and financial leadership for the College of Arts and Sciences. She will report directly to University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Jacobs.

“I feel privileged to have an opportunity to become part of Santa Clara University at this creative and exciting time,” said Tahmassebi. “Santa Clara’s bold new 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 3,140 students, 350 faculty members, and 130 full- and part-time staff—is the largest academic unit on the Mission Campus. The College’s 24 departments and academic programs offer more than 35 undergraduate degree programs and help provide a liberal arts curriculum to all Santa Clara undergraduates.

Tahmassebi has served as associate dean of program development in the College of Arts and Sciences, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and special assistant to the Provost at the University of San Diego, a private Catholic university of 8,300 students. Her contributions included the development and support of new College programs and initiatives, oversight of assessment efforts, expansion of undergraduate research, and record growth in sponsored programs. In 2012-13, she was selected as an American Council of Education Fellow to work with President David Burcham at Loyola Marymount University. 

Tahmassebi joined the faculty at the University of San Diego in 1999. As an organic chemist with interests in the synthesis and structural analysis of biologically relevant molecules, she studies novel nucleosides and amino-acid derivatives. Tahmassebi has mentored several undergraduate students in her laboratory and coordinated the Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience program, an initiative which supports socioeconomically disadvantaged students to attend the University of San Diego and become involved in research early in their academic careers.

“Dr. Tahmassebi comes to Santa Clara with an impressive record in curricular innovation, faculty development, and promoting undergraduate research. Her leadership in these areas, commitment to Jesuit educational values, and her exceptional collaborative style make her a terrific addition to the University community. I look forward to welcoming her as our new dean,” said Santa Clara University President Michael Engh, S.J. 

Tahmassebi will succeed Dr. W. Atom Yee, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who served ten years as dean and will return to the faculty to continue his scholarship and teaching. For the 2014–15 academic year, Professor of Political Science Terri Perretti has served as acting dean.

Tahmassebi earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Washington and her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of California, San Diego.

Tahmassebi is married with two daughters. Her husband, Sam, is an attorney specializing in intellectual property law. 

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deepa Arora | SCU Communications Director | | 408-554-5125


Deborah Tahmassebi,college of arts and sciences