Appointment of Founding Chair for Integrated Sciences

June 29, 2021

Dear CMC Community: 

I am thrilled to share that CMC has hired its Founding Chair for our new Department of Integrated Sciences: Dr. Ran (“Ron”) Libeskind-Hadas, who currently serves as the R. Michael Shanahan Endowed Professor of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College.

Dr. Libeskind-Hadas will join CMC on July 1 and work with the faculty and senior College leadership to launch and lead the Department. As Founding Chair, Dr. Libeskind-Hadas will advance our vision for integrated sciences by recruiting a diverse group of 25 world-class teacher-scholars, fostering student success across the widest range of experiences and backgrounds, and developing a next-generation multi- and interdisciplinary curriculum. Specifically, the Department will offer an innovative, inclusive pedagogy in integrated sciences; a strong computational foundation; introductory and advanced hands-on research opportunities; cross-cutting programming that bridges both to and from the social sciences and humanities; and a commitment to take on the big questions of science and technology in the public sphere. 

During his 27 years of teaching in Claremont, Dr. Libeskind-Hadas has demonstrated leadership and innovation in these important areas of academic cross-connectivity and collaboration, particularly in computational approaches to scientific problems for The Claremont Colleges. His familiarity with CMC students through the years (he most recently had 26 CMC computer science major advisees) will provide an essential foundation as he works with faculty and staff on curricular development and professional partnerships within our institutes, centers, and the Soll Center for Student Opportunity, among others. This will include the creation of more general science education courses, internships, and research and thesis projects that cut across disciplines, as well as help both science and non-science majors attain a significant understanding of the critical and analytical thinking inherent to the scientific process.

While at Harvey Mudd, Dr. Libeskind-Hadas led the Core Revision Committee that was tasked with revising the college’s core curriculum, a tremendous challenge given the need to balance preparation for all majors, as well as establish the broad foundations of a STEM-based liberal arts education. He was one of the co-developers of the “CS For All” family of introductory courses at Harvey Mudd that sought to provide students with compelling and relevant exposure to various computing fields. Those courses have since been taken by all students across The Claremont Colleges and have served as a prototype for other colleges and universities to adopt.

As a department chair and associate dean of the faculty at Harvey Mudd, Dr. Libeskind-Hadas recruited exceptional colleagues from traditionally underrepresented groups while helping the college achieve gender parity in both the computer science major and faculty, a leading example for higher education. His dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences, particularly through a funded Mellon Foundation program, also helped provide incoming Harvey Mudd students with cohort experience, foundational practice, mentorship, and research opportunities during academic years and summers.

Dr. Libeskind-Hadas’ scientific expertise is in applied mathematics and computer science, and he has conducted significant research in computational biology—specifically in the areas of phylogenetics and computational methods in molecular biology. He received his B.A. from Harvard University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Division, and holds national leadership positions with the Computing Research Association, the Caltech Schmidt Academy of Software Engineering, and the Editorial Board of the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery. 

On behalf of our entire CMC community, I would also like to extend special thanks to the Chair Search Committee for their tireless, effective work to generate this extraordinary outcome:

  • Mark Huber (co-chair), Fletcher Jones Foundation Professor of Mathematics and Statistics and George R. Roberts Fellow;
  • Adam Landsberg (co-chair), Professor of Physics;
  • Mary Evans, Jerrine and Thomas Mitchell ’66 Professor of Environmental Economics and George R. Roberts Fellow;
  • Sarah Gilman, Associate Professor of Biology; 
  • Cathy Reed, McElwee Professor of Psychology and George R. Roberts Fellow;
  • Anna Wenzel, Professor of Chemistry;
  • Emily Wiley, Professor of Biology and Associate Dean of the Faculty;
  • Branwen Williams, George R. Roberts Associate Professor of Environmental Biology; and
  • Nancy Williams, Associate Professor of Chemistry. 

For their valuable leadership and support, we are also indebted to Board of Trustees members Elyssa Elbaz ’94, Jim McElwee ’74 P’12, Harriet Nembhard ’91, Fred Prager P’99 P’01, and Ken Valach ’82, as well as key members of our senior leadership team, including Heather Antecol, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty; Coreen Rodgers, Vice President of Business and Chief Operating Officer, who also served as a non-voting member of the Committee; and Muriel Poston, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Libeskind-Hadas on his new position as we take an important step forward in the implementation of our vision for integrated sciences at CMC.

Very best,