Dr. Sacha Kopp

Gonzaga University
ACAO Board of Directors

Dr. Sacha Kopp Sacha Kopp joins Gonzaga University as Provost and Chief Academic Officer in June 2022. Prior to serving in this role, he held roles as Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 2019-2022; Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 2014-2018; Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas 2010- 2014; Associate Chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Texas 2008-2010. He served on the faculty of the Physics Department at UT Austin 2000-2014. His education includes an AB in Physics from the University of Chicago (1986-90), MS in Physics from the University of Chicago (1990-92), PhD in Physics from the University of Chicago (1990-1994), and a postdoctoral fellowship at Syracuse University (1994-1999).

A graduate of the University of Chicago, Dr. Kopp has been an advocate of liberal arts education. At the University of Texas, he led the creation of a new degree plan in the College of Natural Sciences called the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, which requires a minor in a liberal arts discipline along with a major in the natural sciences; the degree would eventually be pursued by 2/3 of majors in the college. He led the creation of the Polymathic Scholars honors program at UT. At Stony Brook, he worked with the admissions team to enhance recruitment of liberal arts majors by 70% in the freshman class, created an effort in Public Humanities along with visiting author Dr. Naomi Wolf and faculty in the Humanities Institute. At the University of Nebraska at Omaha, he led strategic planning efforts that led to the creation of the Ted Kooser Center for the Health Humanities and Healing Arts as well as the Samuel Bak Academic Learning Center and Museum dedicated to the art, visual testimony, and scholarship in human rights, genocide studies, and the Holocaust leading to a $18M gift of art by the artist Samuel Bak.

Dr. Kopp has worked toward efforts related to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. At UNO, he worked with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce to support a DEAI landscape survey of Omaha area businesses, and he participated in authoring the Omaha Chamber’s “playbook” for best practices in employee and leadership recruiting. At UNO, he launched the Strategic Investment in Race, Class, Inequality, and Social Justice, leading to the development of 9 projects with non- profits and civic organizations in causes such as housing redlining, food insecurity, student success and access to college, career mentoring, and the history of the Black community in Omaha. He helped create the position and led the recruitment for the first Chief Diversity Officer for UNO. At UNO and at Stony Brook, he instituted new faculty recruitment practices that addressed implicit bias effects and led to over 60% of faculty recruits being women and over 35% being faculty of color. At Stony Brook he funded the Algonquin Language Project to partner with the Linguistics Department and the Unkechaug and Shinnecock nations to recover their spoken languages. At Stony Brook and UT, he developed partnerships with the admissions offices to increase recruiting efforts for underserved populations, leading to 30-40% increases in the freshman class. At UT, he worked with African American and Latinx alumni associations, to institute a mentoring program for students of color.

A committed advocate for students, Dr. Kopp has worked across his institutions toward student success and retention. At UT, Dr. Kopp oversaw a talented student affairs team of 130 staff, including academic advisors, mental health counselors, career advising, pre-health advising, experiential learning, honors programs, digital learning, and student mentoring. His team created a college-wide placement process for entry level courses as well as faculty training for “flipped classroom” pedagogies that led to a 50% reduction in rates of non-passing grades in entry-level math, chemistry, biology, and computer science. Based on data from highly successful pilot first year success programs, his team created and implemented a first-year experience program called CNS101 so every entering freshman would be part of a small learning community with faculty mentor, professional advisor, and peer mentor. The Freshman Research Initiative expanded to ½ the entering class. At UNO, Dr. Kopp launched a reform of general education math including the recruitment of 10 faculty and pedagogical changes that led to reduction in DFW rates and supported the creation of a first-year experience for undeclared students who represent the largest cohort of entering students. He supported the addition of 25% more professional academic advisors. Dr. Kopp’s team developed pathways programs with local community colleges to enhance the transfer experience, and led a partnership with Hastings College to permit Hastings students to enroll in UNO courses. Online course offerings more than doubled as a result of faculty incentives and support from the UNO digital learning team, including online degrees such as the MBA, cybersecurity, data sciences, and more. He led the creation of partnerships with local corporations enabling their employees to continue their education at UNO, leading to a significant expansion of adult learners pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Dr. Kopp has been an advocate of the teacher-scholar model, and has sought to expand research and creative opportunities for faculty and students. At UT, his team doubled a pilot program called the Freshman Research Initiative in which faculty were provided postdoctoral fellows in exchange for hosting cohorts of college freshmen in their research areas; over 900 freshmen participated in projects in computational astrophysics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, robotics, and more. Students were observed to persist in STEM disciplines, publish early in their careers, and pursue advanced degrees. At SUNY Stony Brook, Dr. Kopp led a strategic planning effort for the College of Arts and Sciences that leveraged academic partnerships with Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook Medicine, the Humanities Institute, and the Alda Center for the Communication of Science. Sponsored research grants increased 30% and rankings of Stony Brook programs increased from 97 to 80 in USNWR. At UNO, Dr. Kopp led strategic planning for academic programs called the Big Ideas, leading to the creation of 6 multi-college partnerships such as a counterterrorism/security-studies center funded by a $40M grant from the Department of Homeland Security, a center for health humanities and healing arts, a biomechanics center, a STEM education center, and a center dedicated to the Holocaust, human rights, and genocide studies. Sponsored research grew from $17M/yr to $40M/yr.

A physicist by training, Dr. Kopp is author or co-author of over 200 articles in the fields of elementary particle physics and in STEM education. He conducted research at particle accelerators in Chicago, Cornell, Geneva Switzerland, and Japan. He supervised the research of 10 doctoral students and 6 postdoctoral fellows. He is the recipient of over $14M in external grants from the National Science Foundation, US Department of Energy, and Texas Department of Education. He participated on the research team that discovered the top quark, one of the 12 fundamental particles in the universe.

Dr. Kopp is married to Gretchen Olson Kopp. They are proud parents to two children, Eleanor who is a senior studying trumpet at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and Eli who will study cello at the Oberlin Conservatory this fall. Gretchen is pursuing ordination in the Lutheran faith through the ELCA and currently serves as the Protestant chaplain at Creighton University in Omaha. Her calling in ministry follows a career in low-income housing development in NY and TX and in non-profit management, having started a food pantry in Austin and furniture bank on Long Island.