UC Riverside Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox announced today the appointment of Thomas M. Smith as interim provost and executive vice chancellor, pending approval by UC President Janet Napolitano.
Smith, who previously served as interim vice chancellor for student affairs during 2018, joined UCR in September 2014 as dean of the Graduate School of Education (GSOE). He is a nationally recognized scholar who was recently named a 2019 Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning.
Before coming to UCR, Smith was a professor and director of graduate studies in the department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University. Prior to arriving at Vanderbilt in 2001, he conducted and managed statistical research activities at the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the National Science Foundation.
“I’m honored to serve the campus during a critical period of transition for UCR,” said Smith, an experienced administrator. “Having worked closely with Provost Larive, I appreciate the importance of shared governance and the value of collaboration.”
Under Smith’s leadership, the GSOE expanded and diversified the faculty and student body, having hired 20 new tenure-line faculty, of whom 70% are faculty of color. Enrollment in teacher credentialing programs has almost doubled and the school added an undergraduate major in Education, Society, and Human Development that grew into 350 students in less than two years. GSOE faculty members are strong collaborators with K-12 and community colleges across a range of programs, and Smith serves on the Riverside Unified School District Equity Task Force.
The GSOE has surpassed the overall fundraising goal it set for Living The Promise: The Campaign for UC Riverside, which ends in December 2020. Smith served on the Budget Advisory Committee from 2015-2018 and was involved in the early review of services level agreements for support units.
In the past year alone, the school expanded its AP Readiness program into San Bernardino County; supported creation of “Autism Goes to College,” a documentary about the experiences of five post-secondary students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder; and hosted the Institute for Teachers of Color (ITOC) conference.
“Tom Smith has done an exceptional job leading growth and improvement across the board as dean,” said Wilcox. “Adding interim duties as vice chancellor for student affairs was a daunting feat, but seeing Tom work at the campus-wide level clearly inspired enthusiasm and confidence among those who nominated him to be interim provost.”
A first-generation college student, Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and master’s degrees from Columbia University and The Catholic University of America. He received a doctorate in education theory and policy from Penn State University. Smith’s research focuses on policy and instructional improvement; teacher professional development; and improvement science.
UC Riverside is America’s fastest-rising ranked university and is among the top 1% of universities worldwide. Smith joins one of the most diverse higher education leadership teams in the nation and will oversee UCR’s seven colleges and schools as well as campus-wide efforts and initiatives including the university library, UCR extension, graduate division, academic personnel, undergraduate education, international affairs, enrollment services, ombuds office, and administrative resolution.
Following a campus-wide nomination process, Chancellor Wilcox appointed a search advisory committee to assist in the Interim Provost selection. The committee consisted of CFO and Vice Chancellor Gerry Bomotti, Planning and Budget Committee Chair and Associate Professor (English) Katherine Kinney, Academic Senate Chair and Professor (Media and Cultural Studies) Dylan Rodriguez, and Associate Chancellor Christine Victorino.
Smith succeeds Cynthia K. Larive, who was appointed the eleventh chancellor of UC Santa Cruz. An interim dean of education will be appointed over the summer and a national search for a permanent provost and executive vice chancellor will begin during fall quarter, 2019.