2018 Berkeley Faculty Service Award

The Berkeley Faculty Service Award (BFSA) honors a member of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate for their outstanding and dedicated service to the campus, and whose activities as a faculty member have significantly enhanced the quality of the campus as an educational institution and community of scholars. This award recognizes Senate service, which is essential to the ideal of shared governance, and contributions that have had a lasting and significant impact on the excellence of the Berkeley campus.

2018 BFSA Awardees are J. Keith Gilless and Robert Powell

J. Keith Gilless

Professor of Forest Economics

Keith Gilless, Professor of Forest Economics, has been a colleague of uncommon energy, commitment, and skill. He could have been given the Faculty Service Award award long ago, as the quality and quantity of his service were extraordinary even before he became dean of the College of Natural Resources (CNR) in 2008. Between 1988 and 2006, he chalked up a virtually annual record of important committee service to the Berkeley Division. This includes DIVCO (1992-94), and the committees on Teaching (1988-90), Academic Planning and Resource Allocation (1996-99), Educational Policy (2001-06), Committees (1992-94), and Undergraduate Scholarships and Honors (1991-93, 1999). His deep involvement in the work of the Division bespeaks commitment across a wide range of issues. It demonstrates exceptional devotion to the life and mission of the campus as a whole.        

He has been passionate about maintaining and improving the quality of our teaching enterprise, the quality of student life, the quality of campus financial planning, the composition of Senate committees, the condition of our facilities, the quality of organized research units, and of the conditions that make it possible for our faculty to do their best research. His “Other University Service” rounds out the picture of intense and wide-ranging service. As if this were not enough, Gilless simultaneously served the State of California in many ways, especially with his expertise on forestry management.        

Notable also are the leadership roles he has played on committees of the systemwide Academic Senate, including the University Committee on Committees (on which he served for four years, two of them as chair and vice-chair), and four years on the University Committee on Educational Policy. Such service is vitally important for ensuring consistent policy at all ten  campuses along with desired improvements here.   

All this accords with everything we have heard about Keith’s holistic achievements as dean of CNR. When he retires from this onerous position at the end of next semester, he will have served the campus in that role for ten years.        

In recognition of Keith Gilless’s accomplishments, former chair of the Division, Elizabeth Deakin, writes: 

“Keith belongs to a…group of faculty who are energetically engaged, seek to represent the welfare of the faculty as a whole, work hard to obtain and assess data on the issues, investigate the pros and cons of various viewpoints, develop expertise in the subject matter, find positive ways forward, and provide the leadership needed to see their ideas implemented in many cases. Keith has been a campus treasure.”

As his colleagues in CNR have written: “Dean Gilless has the ability to think strategically, always putting the good of the Berkeley campus above everything else. We doubt that any faculty member has more generously devoted his time over many decades to university service than Keith Gilless.”

Robert L. Powell

Robson Professor of Political Science

Robert Powell, Robson Professor of Political Science, is an exemplary recipient of the Berkeley Faculty Service Award. One of our own Ph.D.s in economics, he has served the campus with great distinction and dedication in a multitude of roles. These culminated most recently in his appointment as Division chair, not for the normal period of one year, but for three entire semesters from March 2016 through August 2017. Through all this exceptionally trying period, one of the most turbulent times in the campus’s recent history, Powell gave calm and steady leadership and advice, offering reason, confidence, and good humor when many were given to panic and dismay.  

His professional experience and expertise were singularly apt for undertaking this challenge.  Bob is a specialist in government at many levels, including we must note for its timeliness, strategies for avoiding nuclear war. During his quarter century on the faculty, he has served the campus and the university as a member of many Senate committees, including Academic Freedom (1997-2002, the last two years as chair and also served on the corresponding UC committee), Privilege and Tenure (2008-09 and 2010-14, last year as chair), and Research (2014-15, as chair). He has also served on two departmental review committees, including chairing the internal review of Demography in 2000; directed the Center on Institutions and Governance; and served as a member of the University Committee on Research, its subcommittee on the University’s relationship with the national laboratories, and the UC Academic Council Special Committee on the National Laboratories. Last year, while leading the Berkeley Division, he also co-chaired the Chancellor’s Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Powell became chair of the Berkeley Division midyear in 2016 when his predecessor, Benjamin Hermalin, was suddenly appointed vice-provost for the faculty. He moved on from being vice-chair with characteristic effectiveness. As Vice Provost Hermalin himself writes:

“Bob made sure that the faculty's concerns were understood by the administration and respected. He was a strong defender of the prerogatives of the faculty and the role of shared governance, but without being dogmatic or rigid. He recognized that there was no one voice of the faculty, yet, where possible, he was able to build consensus. He exemplified the virtues of fairness, honesty, and transparency that we wish to see in our leaders. “           

Mary Firestone, also a former chair of the Berkeley Division, describes Powell as “the person that I would want in charge or at my side when faced with consequential, Gordian issues.  He is thoughtful, incisive, and he cares about people and the University.” 

This view, which is echoed across the campus, makes Bob Powell a superb recipient of the Berkeley Faculty Service Award.