Landis becomes Department chair: Grateful for legacy of past chair, ready to take on new challenges

By Meranda Masse
Department Communications & Graduate Student (Cavagnero)

Prof. Clark Landis has taken over as chair of the Department of Chemistry, a position previously held by Prof. Judith N. Burstyn.

Landis has a few goals he would like to pursue, including:

  • Increasing collaborative research with industry and other groupsPortrait of Chair Clark Landis
  • Increasing research space and completing the new building project
  • Recruiting new, more diverse faculty
  • Focusing on equity and diversity in all of our practices, especially teaching and hiring
  • Completing the Department re-organization that was initiated by Burstyn

Another goal is to revise budgeting for the Department, and different entities within it. Increasing research dollars, size and complexity of the department organization and compliance needs require an updated budget model. He is optimistic that the new model can be established during his tenure as chair.

Landis also plans to lead the Department in becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

“From the chair position I can model some of this,” Landis explained. “More importantly, I can bring people together and say that we need to have a discussion.”

He continued to say that in the next five to 10 years, there will be a lot of professors retiring, which means the Department will need to hire more faculty. Landis believes that this is a great opportunity for the Department to add diversity to the faculty.

Landis reminisced on his years in the Department, commenting on how he appreciates the close relationships he has with his colleagues, and likes that the facilities are top-notch. He looks forward to the next few years.

“Coming out of an 18-month pandemic and going into a new building, there’s a lot to be excited about,” Landis said.

Landis began his term in the summer. He expects that Burstyn’s policy changes will have lasting benefits. Burstyn looks forward to seeing how the Department will thrive under Landis’ leadership.

“Clark has been particularly innovative over many years in his ways of thinking and quite a visionary,” Burstyn said. “I am optimistic that the Department is moving in a positive direction.”

Landis grew up in the Midwest, obtain- ing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.

He then worked in industry for a few years before pursuing his love of academic research at UC Boulder, and later moving to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Landis has been with the Department for more than 30 years and said that serving as Department chair would be his final act as a faculty member before retiring.

Landis plans to serve as chair for three years, the established term.