College of Science dean accepts position at Rice
UA College of Science dean and planetary sciences professor Eugene Levy may never visit the far-off solar system he studies, but this summer he will begin a new academic journey two states away.
After 25 years as a member of the University of Arizona faculty, Levy is departing to take the helm as provost of Rice University in Houston, Texas. Levy will begin his new duties in July.
In a letter to colleagues announcing his career change, Levy said he was "enthusiastic" and "excited" about the opportunities awaiting him at Rice and described his years at UA as a positive experience.
"During the past 25 years, I have had the extraordinary privilege of being a faculty member, a department head, and now, a dean of a college that I truly love," he stated in the letter.
Levy was out of town at a conference and could not be reached for comment last night.
After receiving his physics doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1971, Levy began his career at UA in 1975 as a professor in the planetary sciences department. Eight years later he was promoted to department head, and in 1993, Levy was named dean of the College of Science.
"This is a wonderful college," he stated. "I am grateful, beyond words, for the opportunities and confidence that I have been shown by my colleagues."
Levy's research centers around theoretical cosmic physics. Planetary geophysics, space and solar physics, and star and planetary formation have been his main areas of research.
In addition to research, Levy has also distinguished himself as a teacher. Last fall he taught a section of Natural Sciences 102 and has won awards for excellence in teaching - most recently the Hispanic Arizona Alumni Association award in 1999 for contributions to the education of Hispanic UA students.
Rice President Malcolm Gillis said Levy would bring vision, leadership and quality managerial and academic skills to the 4,200-student campus.
"I'm the one who picked him, so I must be very enthusiastic about it," he said. "We've made a fine choice, and Arizona is very fortunate to have had him grace its campus for so many years."
Although he stated he is looking forward to his work at Rice, Levy added that he would miss the professional relationships he had forged while at UA.
"As I confront the emotionally and intellectually challenging prospect of leaving what has been my professional and intellectual home for a quarter of a century, one of the most difficult discrete decisions of my life. I take real comfort in the fact that there are talented leaders in the college able to take on the challenges that face us," Levy stated.
UA spokeswoman Sharon Kha said she did not work with Levy in any official academic capacity, but knew him to be an upstanding member of the university faculty.
"The word that categorizes Gene Levy in my mind is 'passion,'" Kha said. "He's so intensely passionate about everything, but particularly about education, excellence and students."
Kha said Levy's scholarly vigor has aided him in his career.
"It's that passion - and the energy it generates - that had made him such a success," she said.
Biochemistry professor Michael Cusanovich, who returned to teaching last January after serving as the vice president of research and graduate studies, said there is "never a dull moment" with Levy.
"Gene is an incredibly creative and articulate individual, who, when I was an administrator, always kept me on my toes - but in a good way," he said.
Cusanovich added that Levy is an asset to UA and will be missed.
"It's a loss, and I think Rice has done well," said Cusanovich.