UC Davis' Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors, with the recent hire of six new campus leaders, has received its largest infusion of diverse, new talent in many years.
The new hires will lead academic and campus community initiatives, serve as Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef's top advisers and offer UC Davis a fresh perspective on university challenges.
- Virginia Hinshaw, who after two months, has already immersed herself in the responsibilities of provost and executive vice chancellor after a long career at the University of Wisconsin -- Madison.
- Barbara Horwitz, professor of physiology, who is the new vice provost for academic personnel.
- Barry Klein, who has moved from the vice provost position now occupied by Horwitz to a new role as vice chancellor for research.
- Harold Levine, who left UCLA recently to join the campus as the founding dean of the School of Education.
- Rahim Reed, a former assistant dean and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida, who arrived on campus last week to begin the brand-new post of associate executive vice chancellor for campus community relations.
- Phyllis Wise, incoming dean of biological sciences, who will arrive in January from the University of Kentucky.
Many on campus are especially excited by the inclusion of women and minorities in these top roles.
"These are all highly qualified people, and having diversity at the table is a tremendous plus," Hinshaw said. "It helps you make better decisions for the campus at large, because it is diverse."
The new administrators certainly add to the diversity of UC Davis, Vanderhoef said, but he emphasized as well, "In every case here, it was true that they were the top hires."
The campus will benefit from having both outside hires and experienced university employees in new posts on the council, he said.
Klein, for example, will bring experience from the vice provost's office into his new research position. Klein's years as a physics professor also provide him with the background to succeed in his post.
Horwitz's office, as well, Vanderhoef said, "needs someone who has lived their life as a faculty member to understand the issues."
Jeff Gibeling, chair of the Academic Senate agreed that the new vice provost "did not miss a beat" taking on personnel matters like the recently revamped merit and promotion review process.
Members of the council who come from outside UC Davis may take some more time to adjust to their new campus, but once ready, they are able to see improvements the university needs to make, Vanderhoef said.
"They see the torn wallpaper," Vanderhoef said. He explained an analogy in which a long-time homeowner fails to see repairs that need to be made, but a newcomer easily does.
"They see the things that can be improved," he said.
Hinshaw, for example, with her background in graduate studies and research, went right to work helping a campus lab prepare for an audit by the National Institutes of Health, Vanderhoef said.
Gibeling said he has appreciated Hinshaw's eagerness to learn about Academic Senate issues, but also her willingness to deliberate and study more before she makes weighty decisions.
Levine, a former education professor at UCLA, has said he is determined to make every K-12 classroom an effective learning environment through the work of UC Davis researchers.
"Harold has the creative ideas needed to build our School of Education and advance K-12 education in our state," Hinshaw said.
Associate Dean of Biological Sciences Tom Rost says Wise, too, is "is energetic and bursting with ideas" about ways to improve the education biological sciences students receive at UC Davis. One of the first things Wise hopes to do when she arrives on campus is to revise the undergraduate biological sciences curriculum to include more writing and critical thinking exercises, Rost said.
Reed's enthusiastic and clear-thinking persona will allow him, as well, to jump-start work in his brand-new position, said Hinshaw, who, as the chair of the campus Council on Community and Diversity, will work very closely with Reed.
"His knowledge and experience base will be the most pivotal," she said. "And, in addition, his manner will help get people on board."
It wasn't too many years ago that UC Davis' top leadership was not nearly as diverse, Vanderhoef said. But as the leadership council began to add more women and ethnic minority members, Vanderhoef said he has learned what a difference a more representative group can make.
"They make sure we are not just considering one perspective, but all the perspectives that we can," he said.