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January 2019

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences named Provost at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah

SANTA CLARA, CA, January 8, 2019 – Dr. Debbie Tahmassebi, Dean of the Santa Clara University College of Arts and Sciences, has been appointed Provost of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. She will assume this new role on July, 1 2019.

“Dean Tahmassebi made an impressive impact on the scholarship of liberal arts students at Santa Clara University, and upon the faculty and staff with whom she collaborated,” said Michael Engh, S.J., President of Santa Clara University. “We are grateful for the many contributions she made to our campus community over the past four academic years, and are excited for her as she takes this next step forward in her distinguished career.” 

“I will deeply miss the incredibly talented Santa Clara students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, parents and friends with whom I have had the pleasure to work. I appreciate the great passion and enthusiasm this community brings to the study and work within the College, and am proud of the progress we have made on many of our common goals,” said Tahmassebi. “Santa Clara is a special place and I will forever consider myself part of this community and campus.”

Dean Tahmassebi joined Santa Clara University in August 2015. The University’s College of Arts and Sciences (the College) —with 2941 students, 410 faculty members, and 130 full- and part-time staff—is the largest academic unit at Santa Clara University. The College’s 25 departments and interdisciplinary programs offer more than 35 undergraduate degree programs as well as the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries.

During Dean Tahmassebi’s tenure, the College made significant advancements on several important fronts. She expanded the Center for Arts and Humanities, promoted the digital humanities, and initiated the artist-in-residence program through the Sinatra Endowed Chair. Moreover, Tahmassebi launched the Imaginarium as a state-of-the-art lab for virtual and augmented reality to serve as a pedagogical and creative resource for disciplines across the College. She has promoted research activity and partnerships in the College, including the provision of funded opportunities for undergraduate research and creative endeavors. Deeply committed to enhancing diversity, inclusion and equity in the College, Tahmassebi expanded the Inclusive Excellence Post-Doc program, hired an extraordinary set of talented underrepresented faculty members, and partnered on the Curated Pathways to Innovation program to expand opportunities for women and underrepresented students of color to pursue STEM careers.

Prior to joining Santa Clara University, 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.

“Dean Tahmassebi’s many contributions to Santa Clara University extend beyond those in the College and include significant collaborations with SCU’s five professional schools and three Centers of Distinction,” said Dennis Jacobs, provost at Santa Clara University. “This includes her invaluable guidance to the design of the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation–SCU’s soon-to-be largest academic facility which will promote convergent pedagogy and research across mathematics, science and engineering disciplines. Thanks to her leadership, the College is well-equipped to continue its vaulted tradition of learning and discovery as we seek its next leader. ”

Santa Clara University will commence a national search in fall for the next dean of the College. An interim dean will be announced shortly by the Provost to lead the College during the 2019-20 academic year.

About the College of Arts and Sciences
Home to the humanities, visual and performing arts, and natural and social sciences, the College of Arts and Sciences offers a humanistic, Jesuit education in the liberal arts and sciences. The faculty of the College integrate transformative teaching and innovative scholarship to engage students in the processes of learning, discovery, and reflection as members of a community of scholars. In addition, the College sponsors a variety of other events, programs, and services to enrich the intellectual, artistic, cultural, and spiritual lives of individuals and of the community.

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 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; plus graduate degrees in business, engineering, education, counseling psychology, theology, and law. Distinguished nationally by the highest graduation rate among all U.S. masters comprehensive universities, California’s oldest operating higher education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see


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