Prestigious Archaeologist Ready to Lead Fastest-Growing School at UC Merced


Mark S. AldenderferMark S. Aldenderfer said he plans to emphasize interdisciplinary research as he begins his tenure as dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts with the university.

Aldenderfer, who began Jan. 1, said he was drawn to UC Merced because of the school’s opportunities, potential and mission to cross academic boundaries.

“I want to participate in a campus-building enterprise. You don’t get opportunities like that much,” Aldenderfer said. “I had no intention of being a dean at a place where I’m (solely) building an economics department and a psychology department. I want to find ways to create structures that are multidisciplinary in nature.”

He is the first person to permanently hold the leadership position since founding Dean Kenji Hakuta left in 2006. Hans Bjornssön had served on an interim basis. Aldenderfer comes from the University of Arizona, where he was an anthropological archaeologist. He also spent 15 years at UC Santa Barbara as both a faculty member and an administrator.

“Dr. Aldenderfer’s vast experience and leadership abilities will undoubtedly be wonderful assets for SSHA,” said Keith Alley, executive vice chancellor and provost. “We look forward to the continued growth in the excellence of the research and educational programs under his tutelage.”

Aldenderfer said his top priorities this semester include meeting the faculty, relearning the budget process and creating a robust strategic plan for SSHA, which is the campus’ largest and fastest-growing school with more than 1,100 students enrolled in the fall.