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New dean of College of Social and Behavioral Science named

Dr. Michelle M. Camacho will assume her new role on July 1, 2022.

University of Utah Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Martell Teasley announced that Michelle M. Camacho, Ph.D. has been named as the new dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science (CSBS). She will begin on July 1, 2022.

Camacho is a former Fellow of the American Council on Education (ACE); Fulbright scholar; President’s Faculty Fellow at UC San Diego; University of California, Irvine, Humanities Research Fellow and Sigma XI: Society for Scientific Research scholar. She is currently a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of San Diego. During her more than 20 years at the University of San Diego, Camacho has held multiple administrative and leadership roles, and received over 15 years of consecutive funding from the National Science Foundation for research and leadership on institutional transformation. In 2019, the National Science Foundation invited her to serve as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education where she co-led the Hispanic Serving Institutions Program with a budget of $45 million. In 2020 she was promoted to Acting Deputy Division Director of NSF’s Division of Human Resources and Development, supervising national investments in support of innovation and transformative strategies to ensure broad participation in STEM education.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Camacho will be joining the University of Utah,” Teasley said. “Dr. Camacho has a vision for supporting CSBS’ faculty and students, and a commitment to gender, diversity, inclusion and academic excellence. I believe her award-winning research and focus on student success will benefit our entire campus.”

As dean of the largest college on the University of Utah campus, Camacho will oversee seven departments, numerous interdisciplinary programs, centers, and Programs of Public Affairs. Collectively, CSBS embraces a diversity of disciplines within the college to address the most pressing social and environmental issues facing our world.

During her time at the University of San Diego, Camacho developed initiatives to support interdisciplinary collaborations, particularly across Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. These initiatives supported faculty research collaborations, student veteran education, community engagement and workforce development. In her roles as Special Assistant to the Vice President of Advancement and Special Assistant to the Provost for innovation and strategic initiatives, she worked on the capital campaign which raised over $300 million, and offered leadership on innovative cross-campus programming with federal sponsorship through NSF’s Revolutionizing Engineering Departments program. Her own award-winning research and authorship features experiential and innovative pedagogy, with expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion. Her book, The Borderlands of Education, co-authored with Susan Lord, was nominated for the Gloria Anzaldua best book prize, and other articles have received the Wickenden award for best paper and Better Vetter Award for Research.

“As a bilingual and bicultural Latina, and the first in my family to graduate from college, I bring a deep personal commitment to promoting greater equity within higher education,” Camacho said. “I am excited to contribute to the University of Utah and be a part of creating innovative structures that sustain systemic change. I look forward to the opportunity to augment the University’s commitment to fostering a climate for bold, creative collaboration among a robust academic community.”

After an administrative leave, Cindy Berg, current dean of the college, will return to faculty full-time to work on a National Institutes of Health grant, researching how social support can benefit individuals with chronic illness. During her time as dean, Berg established significant programs, initiatives and research opportunities. She was the main catalyst in forming the college’s Solution Scholars Program, a cohort of undergraduate students committed to addressing key social and environmental challenges. She also led the formation of the Interdisciplinary Exchange for Utah Science, among other collaborations that support interdisciplinary research on tackling local and national problems.

“Dean Berg’s leadership and collaboration have been crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing support, encouragement, and strength to the college’s community in an uncertain time,” said Martell Teasley, Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. “We appreciate all of her contributions to this campus.”