Provost's First Campus Update

June 1, 2021
Elizabeth Watkins
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
June 1, 2021

Dear Campus Community,
 
It’s been an eventful first month for me as your provost. Although I’ve moved into my office in Hinderaker Hall, I’ve spent most of my time on Zoom! I have managed to get outside now and then: I’ve had lunch at the Sub Station, I’ve watched the women’s soccer team practice, and I got a tour of the almost-completed Student Success Center (it’s a spectacular space). I am grateful for the warm welcomes I’ve received in meetings and via email, and I’m looking forward to meeting many of you in person in the not-too-distant future. Here’s a quick update on some ongoing projects and information about a couple of new initiatives as well.
 
Return to Campus
I am looking forward to welcoming everyone back to campus in the fall, and welcoming not one but two cohorts of students to campus for the first time! Thanks to a tremendous effort by our faculty and staff, we have scheduled more than 80% of our courses in-person for the fall. Most students should have a mix of two or three in-person courses and one or two remote courses. Currently we are upgrading our general assignment classrooms with new technologies to enable a range of technology-enhanced pedagogies, identifying indoor and outdoor locations where on-campus students can participate in their remote classes, and thinking carefully about how the pandemic will continue impacting members of our community even as we return to more normal campus life. I encourage everyone to keep an eye on their inbox and the Instructional Continuity website for more updates about fall quarter. 
 
New: Campus Finance Committee
To more fully involve leaders of schools, colleges, and major campus units in the development and implementation of our overall resource allocation strategy, the Campus Finance Committee (CFC) will replace the 10-member Budget Advisory Committee with a broader group of 21 campus leaders. Membership will consist of the deans, the vice chancellors, and the chairs of the Staff Assembly, the Academic Senate, and the Senate Committee on Planning and Budget. The CFC will be advisory to the provost and the chancellor on matters of financial oversight for UC Riverside. It will meet on at least a monthly basis throughout the year to review, discuss, and advise on the campus core financial plan, including annual resource allocation, distribution of one-time funds, and capital investments. Members of this group will be responsible for facilitating two-way communication between their constituencies and the committee.
 
Strategic Plan
I want to acknowledge the countless hours devoted by all of the people who were involved in crafting working papers and drafts for UCR’s strategic plan over the past two years. I also want to acknowledge the thoughtful and passionate responses to the penultimate draft submitted by the Academic Senate and by department chairs. I am in the process of reading and digesting all of this written work, and I plan to meet with a number of groups across campus – including the Strategic Plan Steering Committee, Senate committees, Staff Assembly, deans and chairs, the Campus Finance Committee mentioned above – to figure out constructive next steps toward the development of a comprehensive strategic plan that represents our collective ambitions and intentions. Do you have thoughts about the Strategic Plan? If so, please send them to me at strategicplan@ucr.edu.
 
New: Provost’s Office Hours
At the end of this month, I will begin holding weekly office hours. Instead of gathering in a large forum, I’d like to chat with you 1:1 or in small groups. These smaller meetings will give me a chance to hear what’s on your mind and to have a conversation with you. We can chat about any questions or concerns you may have or you can share your perspectives and ideas. While I hope that I can help you in our time together, you will also be helping me deepen my insight into the campus culture at UCR. 
 
The office hours will be offered by campus affiliation on a rotating basis, so one week for staff, one week for faculty, one week for students, and so on. You can sign up for a 15-minute time slot by going to the registration page on the Provost’s Office website.
 
Thank you, Tom Smith!
 
In closing, I want to express my deep appreciation to Tom Smith for his service as Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor over the last two years. He led the campus through a series of extraordinary challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties in teaching, learning, researching, and keeping the university running while the campus was closed; the resulting economic crisis and its impact on the university’s budget; and the belated imperative to dismantle systemic racism in American society and here on our own campus. He led throughout with grace, calm, wisdom, and a spirit of collaboration. Tom will be taking a well-deserved leave in 2021-22; we look forward to welcoming him back to campus the following year.
 
Sincerely,
Liz