Gratitude to CCS Interim Dean Bruce H. Tiffney for His Leadership

June 29, 2020

After serving as the Interim Dean at CCS for two years, Professor Tiffney heads to retirement

Professor Bruce H. Tiffney
Professor Bruce H. Tiffney

Professor Bruce H. Tiffney—an American paleobotanist, CCS Biology Faculty member, and professor in the Department of Earth Sciences—served as the Dean of the College of Creative Studies (CCS) from 2005 to 2016. Tiffney returned to take leadership of the College as Interim Dean from 2018-2020 as the search for a permanent dean continued. Tiffney is well known for his deep commitment to the students and the College, unfailingly working for the benefit of the students, more often than not late into the night. 

“We are truly grateful for Bruce’s long-time commitment and dedication to the College,” said CCS Associate Dean Leroy Laverman. “His passion, enthusiasm, and vision for the College as an experiential undergraduate learning environment has been inspirational and we are thankful that he returned when asked by Chancellor Yang to once again provide leadership for CCS.”

Tiffney joined UC Santa Barbara in 1986 and shortly after learning of CCS, he taught a flower and landscape painting course with CCS Art Faculty Hank Pitcher. Tiffney eventually joined the CCS Biology Faculty and served as the College’s Dean for 11 years with his infamous wizard’s hat. Tiffney stepped down as Dean in 2016 and, with the appointment of new CCS Dean Gerardo Aldana, is now heading to retirement. He will continue to teach and conduct research along with enjoying hobbies, such as woodworking and model ship building, and other amusements.  

In honor of the tireless dedication of Professor Tiffney and his wife Robin Gowen to CCS, The Bruce H. and Robin G. Tiffney Summer Undergraduate Research Fund was established at the College upon the end of his service as dean in 2016. The fund supports summer undergraduate research for CCS biology students who are named Tiffney Fellows. 

Please join us in thanking Professor Tiffney for his many years of extraordinary service, and wishing him an enjoyable retirement. 

Thank You Bruce!

"When I first heard you speak at the luncheon where I was accepted into UCSB, I was inspired by how much you seemed to care about the students. I have only had the honor of knowing you for this past year, but I really admire how passionate and caring you are. Few other deans would take the time to get to know us as you did. From seeing you at the denim picnic in your wizards hat to the way you showed up to view projects during RACACON, you truly helped CCS feel like home for all of us. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Mikaela Stone

Writing & Literature 2023


"Thank you, Prof. Tiffney! For your enthusiasm for CCS and for your kindness to students like myself. My time at CCS has surely been life-changing. Joining your Thanksgiving dinner last year was an unforgettable experience. Thank you again and I wish you all the best!"

Mark Z.

Physics 2021


"Bruce, thank you so much for bringing the college to life for my first two years. I looked forward to the commencement every year, as you added so much levity and passion to the event. I think you embodied a great part of CCS’s personality, and I hope you won’t be a stranger in the coming years. Thank you again, and enjoy your retirement!"

Kyra Sullivan

Biology 2022


"Thank you so much for instilling a spirit of curiosity into CCS. Thank you for your constant advocacy and advice for us as your students!"

Kristen Klitgaard

Biology 2020


"It will be sad to no longer see you around CCS, Dr. Tiffney! Getting to tour Lotusland with an actual biologist was a magical and unforgettable experience that I treasure to this day! Bye Bruce!!!"

Pierre Thibodeaux

Physics 2022


"Thank you most warmly for your incredible mentorship and leadership at CCS.  It will be a very different landscape without your wizard hat.  Your wonderful and delightful presence towards students was always something we appreciated and looked forward to.  Thank you for hosting all those Thanksgivings, for teaching so beautifully, and for giving us valuable life advice.  We love you Bruce!"

Sarah Sea-Salt Amiri

Biology 2021


"Thank you so much for all you’ve done! From the moment I showed up at prospective students day, you showed me that I was part of a loving and welcoming community. You were part of the reason I decided to go to UCSB! I hope you will wear your wizard hat wherever you go and bring along your magic!"

Sophie Lipkin

Chemistry/Biochemistry 2023


"Thank you so much for your years of dedication to CCS. Being a first year, I appreciate your commitment to fostering creativity and making the college feel like a family. You are an inspiration to all your students, and I will never forget the excitement I had for college hearing you speak in your wizard hat during orientation. At the end of winter quarter, I remember struggling to find a printer amid the complications caused by coronavirus, but you were so punctual, helpful, and invested in my meager situation. That example barely scratches the surface of how caring you are towards your students and CCS. You will be missed!"

Madalyn Phan

Chemistry/Biochemistry 2023


"Bruce, your many years of service to CCS have already been recognized but coming back to take the reins when the College was in need is truly service above and beyond. Of course you couldn't know what challenges this term would throw at you but the College has truly been blessed to have such a steady hand at the wheel in these difficult times. All the best to you and Robin for the next step in your journey."

John Latto

CCS Biology Faculty


"You are an amazing person Bruce. You have been awesome in your leadership."

Sharon Tettegah


"You have been an inspiration to me since Day 1. Thank you for your guidance and leadership."

Karel Casteels

CCS Mathematics Faculty


"Thank you for your guidance this year, Bruce! I'm so glad you were the dean for my first year with CCS. Thank you for all you've done for this community."

all best,

Sarah Gibson

CCS Music Composition Faculty



Ben V. Olguín

CCS Writing & Literature Faculty


"Ode to Bruce (Tree of CCS)"

Sure and deep roots.

Seasons of abundance and loss,

Still, create! create!

Protecting, nurturing all,

Defeats ignorance.

Kathy Foltz

CCS Biology Faculty


"I had not only the pleasure of knowing you as the dean, but also as a professor and my advisor. With your dedication to cultivating student opportunities for contributing to the web of knowledge in academia, and your colorful assortment of hats and bowties, you have taught that while we should take our work seriously, we shouldn't always take ourselves too seriously. And though I may be on a different path from what we believed I would be on at the outset of my undergraduate career, you have always inspired me to stay dedicated to my passions, whatever they may be. I thank you for your guidance and support."

Reno Behnken

Biology 2020


"Thank you for everything you’ve done for us as a community! I hope the wizard hat becomes a tradition."

Narahari Rao

Computing 2023


"I have only been in CCS a short while, but your hospitality and caring has truly helped CCS feel like a home. From inviting students to your thanksgiving to always holding us to the highest standard, you have truly benefitted CCS greatly."


Music Composition 2022


"Thank you for everything and we will miss your hat <3"

Timothy Xu

Mathematics 2020


"Many many thanks to your endless care, love, and dedication to CCS. To a CCS student like myself, seeing you tirelessly advocating for us and always being super friendly to each and everyone of us is especially enlightening and self-motivating. You are a huge part of the CCS-spirit. You have influenced me and so many others as a Dean as well as on a personal level, to treat everybody equally, to embrace the challenges and the difference that lie ahead and within us, and to look up positively and believe the world will be a better place through our effort. Thank you, Bruce, I will miss you.

P.S. I will also miss your Thanksgiving Dinner~ As an international student I cannot express how grateful I am. Thank you for inviting us to your house and make us feel like home!"

With Sincere Gratitude and Best Regards,

Richard Yang

Physics 2022


"Thank you so much for introducing me to CCS and research!"

Claire Anderson

Biology 2022


"Dr. Bruce Tiffney, your personality is what made CCS so much fun. Your passion for science and educating students is so inspiring. Thank you for leaving a mark and guiding students like myself on the pathway to becoming better scientists. I also need to thank you once again for giving me the signed book by Arthur Humes, it really means a lot to me."

Best wishes,

Jade Hiraki Morris

Biology 2022


"Thank you so much Bruce for all of your wise guidance and encouragement for the past two years. You have always made time to diligently advise me to ensure that I am on a successful path as a first generation college student. You have given me so much hope when I felt incompetent while taking very challenging courses here at UCSB. Thank you for always believing me, I am very honored to be your advisee. Seeing you serve CCS as a very caring and selfless Interim Dean has been an absolute pleasure, and I know we are all thankful for everything you have done for our college. I really appreciate your help, and I am excited to keep nerding out with you over how cool plants are :)"

Gina Milan

Biology 2022


"Thank you for all that you've done as Dean (and iDean!) of CCS. Thank you for always welcoming students with open arms. I remember when I was visiting UCSB for the first time with my family and we were able to meet with you to chat about CCS Biology. I've always been very appreciative of you doing so, as I was already enchanted with CCS, but my parents needed a bit more convincing to let me go to a university a bit farther than they would've liked. I probably would've been able to convince them anyway, but any possible attributing factors deserve thanks, as I've come to love CCS and UCSB more than I thought I ever would. This College is a very special place, and while you attribute that to the students, you deserve credit too! Thank you for your never-failing support of the academic enrichment and creative development of CCS students throughout the years! And thank you for your tours of Lotusland. That field trip was awesome. Your welcome messages during Orientation and the annual All-College Meetings, as well as your commencement addresses, never cease to inspire me and incite feelings of camaraderie. Thank you for fostering the community of CCS. We will miss you! I hope that you enjoy your very well-deserved retirement from Dean of CCS."

Best wishes,

Michelle Chiu

Biology 2021


"Dear Bruce, I am deeply grateful to you for your service as Dean and iDean of CCS.  You recognized my compatibility with CCS and encouraged me to join the College which has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my academic life at UCSB. You have also been a tireless supporter of the new Marine Science Major within CCS and your positivity and encouragement have kept me going through a tumultuous implementation process.  Furthermore, you and Robin have fostered a welcoming and vibrant culture within CCS, including opening your house to the College on many occasions.  Thank you, Bruce!"

David Valentine

CCS Biology Faculty


"Dear Bruce, Thank you SO much for all you have done for the college over the years. Your charisma and leadership imprinted the college with a very unique personality that has made it so attractive to so many students and faculty. Thank you for always keeping your door open to all of us, for living and breathing CCS 24/7, for caring so much about the College and the people in the College as if they were your own family. You will be missed. It will be hard to have those fall quarter first day meetings and graduation ceremonies without you and your hat. Enjoy your very well-deserved retirement but come and visit every now and then." 

Maria Isabel Bueno Cachadina

CCS Mathematics Faculty


"With gratitude for your relentlessness in making CCS a place that embodies passion and curiosity for all!"

Venilde Jeronimo

CCS Staff


"Bruce, thank you (and Robin!) for your dedication and commitment to CCS and the students. We have been very lucky to have you as our dean and interim dean, even when you were reluctantly recruited for a 2nd time! You will be missed!"

Marianne Morris

CCS Staff  


"It has been a pleasure and an honor working under you in CCS! Thank you for your support, your leadership, and your enthusiasm. I look forward to more answers to my plant questions."

Everett Lipman

CCS Physics Faculty


"It’s been a genuine pleasure working with you these last 16 years. I remember going through my excellence review the same year you started as dean.  Or it was very close to that time.  I want to thank you for the many ways you have supported the art program and especially the book arts program.  Your presence at so many of the art receptions have given the students a real boost And your inspiring words to start and end each academic year have given me insight and renewed energy to go yet another year.  I wish you all the best as you move ahead and I am glad that even though you are stepping down as dean we will continue to see you in the College!"

Wishing all the best to One of the Best

Linda Ekstrom

CCS Art Faculty