Provost appointment

November 24, 2020
Kim A. Wilcox
November 24, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Elizabeth Watkins as UCR’s next provost and executive vice chancellor, subject to approval by President Drake. Dr. Watkins is dean of the graduate division, vice chancellor of student affairs, and professor of history of health sciences at UC San Francisco. Dr. Watkins’ appointment will begin on May 1, 2021.

Dr. Watkins joined the UCSF faculty in 2004 after spending six years as an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Previously, she worked as a museum curator, taught high school biology and chemistry, and spent time as a research assistant at the Pasteur Institute in Paris,.

As vice chancellor at UC San Francisco, Dr. Watkins oversees all student affairs functions, enrollment and financial aid, institutional research, education technology services, and the international students and scholars office. As graduate dean, her office supports 19 PhD programs, eight master’s programs, and 1,100 postdoctoral scholars. She is involved in seeking external funding for student support through individual philanthropy and competitively awarded grants and has worked to build the student body and postdoc population with an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Dr. Watkins attended Harvard University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and a Ph.D. in the History of Science. Her research focuses on the interrelations of medicine, science, gender, commerce, and culture in the United States in the 20th-21st centuries. She is the author or co-editor of five books and numerous articles on the history of birth control, sex hormones, and prescription drugs. Her work has been funded by NIH, NSF, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Academy of Education, and the University of California President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities.

Dr. Watkins is a member of the Chancellor’s Executive Cabinet and the Academic Senate Executive Committee. As a member of the UCSF faculty, she was an active leader in the Academic Senate, having served as chair and vice chair of the Graduate Council and vice chair of the Committee on Academic Personnel and as a member of the systemwide Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs (CCGA), the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS), and the UC Press Editorial Board.

I would like to extend my gratitude to members of the search advisory committee:

Monica Carson, Professor and Chair, Division of Biomedical Sciences, Committee Chair
Ken Barish, Professor and Chair, Physics and Astronomy
Gerry Bomotti, Vice Chancellor for Planning, Budget and Administration
Philip Brisk, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
Rena Burton, Director, Academic Resource Center
Emily Carter, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UCLA
Luis Huerta, Associated Students UCR President
Katherine Kinney, Associate Professor, English
Wesley Leonard, Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies
Crystal Petrini, Financial Analyst, UC MEXUS, Staff Assembly President
Alex Ruiz, Associate Director, Undergraduate Admissions
Jason Stajich, Academic Senate Chair and Professor, Microbiology and Plant Pathology
Katherine Stavropoulos, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education
Kevin Vaughn, Dean, UCR Extension and Associate Professor of Anthropology 
Emma Wilson, Associate Dean of Graduate Division and Professor, Biomedical Sciences
Nichi Yes, Graduate Student Association President

I also want to acknowledge the exceptional leadership provided since July 1, 2019 by Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tom Smith. Dr. Smith agreed to assume the provost role on an interim basis after Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Cynthia Larive was appointed as the 11th chancellor of UC Santa Cruz.

Through the many unexpected challenges our campus and nation have faced over the past 17 months, Dr. Smith has admirably led the campus in support of UCR’s research, teaching, and public engagement mission. I’m particularly grateful for his leadership of our strategic planning effort and for his dedicated service, commitment, and contributions. Dr. Smith will remain in the provost role until Dr. Watkins begins her appointment.