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Dialogue with a Dean: Meet the New Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Behzad Mortazavi can dish on encounters with polar bears, his love of horses and the joys and heartbreaks of being a Boston Red Sox fan.
Students talking to the dean.

What five words best describe you?

Indefatigable patience and positive perspective.

Three fun facts about yourself that others may not know?

Headshot of Behzad Mortazavi
  • I love to cook and have company at the house.
  • One of my first childhood memories is being lifted up by a cowboy at a ranch and having him put me in the saddle on his horse. It’s a deeply seated memory that resurfaces often. Needless to say, my love of horses runs deep.
  • I have a terrible sense of orientation and can easily get lost. Luckily my wife finds that to be very amusing.

Favorite sports team?

We are dedicated Red Sox fans. They give me so much joy and at times make me so angry.

Most interesting travel experience?

Being on an icebreaker in the Arctic Ocean for a month doing research. There were many encounters with polar bears—all while I was on the ship luckily and not on the ice.

Podcast, book, movie or hobby you’ve enjoyed recently?

Favorite book generally tends to be one of the last books I have read. In this case: The Evening Star by Larry McMurtry.

Best advice you’ve received?

Every encounter is a possibility for transformation.

Ideal vacation?

Exploring the culture, cuisine and the communities in parts of the world I have not been to before, and if it is by the ocean, that is even better.

Person giving speech.

What most appeals to you about living in Central New York?

The beauty of CNY is unsurpassed. Wonderful summers, fantastic color changes in the fall and all the snow you want in winter.

How do you bring out the best in your students?

Meet them where they are and get them to be curious.

What are you most excited about in your role as dean?

Arts and Sciences is the largest college on campus and comprises a broad range of disciplines. That’s exciting as far as the impact we already have on the world, not to mention our potential to contribute in new ways. One of the things I am most excited about is building on work to connect faculty and students from the STEM and humanities fields to encourage more joint—and hopefully unconventional—approaches and solutions to the challenges facing society and nature today.

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Meet the new dean
People talking at table.

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