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Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Santa Clara University
Dennis Jacobs is the chief academic officer of Santa Clara and provides leadership and management of all aspects of academic and student life programs, information services, and athletics. Jacobs, was previously with the University of Notre Dame, where he served as Vice President and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies.
At Notre Dame, Jacobs worked to implement the core curriculum, launched new study abroad programs, and established the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement to cultivate scholars and enhance research opportunities for students. He initiated a Residential Scholars program to help bridge the divide between academic and residential life. He also helped recruit a more diverse undergraduate student body through a variety of strategic initiatives including modifying Notre Dame's financial aid packaging.
In addition to guiding the vision of Notre Dame's undergraduate program, Jacobs has been a chemistry and biochemistry faculty member at Notre Dame since 1988. His research has focused on studying reactions relevant to semiconductor processing in the microelectronics industry. For the past decade, he has taught a community-based learning course in which student teams visit families who live below the poverty level to test for lead contamination in their homes.
Jacobs has published extensively and received numerous grants and awards. Among his many accolades are the Kaneb Teaching Award at Notre Dame, Carnegie Scholar of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the prestigious Professor of the Year for Doctoral and Research Universities awarded by CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The CASE award honors dedication to teaching, commitment to students and creative approaches to education. It is the only national award to acknowledge teaching excellence.
Jacobs, who played jazz piano in college, views his role at Santa Clara much like the director of a jazz band who inspires and draws upon the talents of each musician in the ensemble to create a unique composition. Jacobs reflects, "In order to bring coherence and vision to the university, the provost needs to recognize the diversity of strengths and talents across the campus, and leverage them strategically to advance programs in support of the university's goals."
After spending 23 years in Indiana, Jacobs is excited to return to California, where he was born and received his entire education. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University and his bachelor's degrees in chemistry and physics at the University of California at Irvine.
Jacobs is married with three children, two of whom are in college and the youngest in high school. His wife, Thea, is pursuing a teaching credential in elementary education.