Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter recently approved a change of title for Michael Rios to vice provost of Public Scholarship, effective July 1.
A professor in the Department of Human Ecology, he had served since last September as the “founding director” of the Office of Public Scholarship and Engagement, and before that as faculty advisor to the provost. Throughout this time Rios has been working with multiple stakeholders in support of existing and new engagement collaborations.
The vice provost title recognizes more fully the university’s commitment to engaged scholarship and learning and equally acknowledges Rios’ critical leadership in developing “Public Scholarship for the Public Good: An Implementation Framework for UC Davis.” Reflecting two years of work and broad participation by faculty, students, staff and community members, the implementation framework is an integral part of UC Davis’ vision, goals and objectives related to public scholarship, a critical part of UC Davis’ land-grant mission.
“This title reflects Professor Rios’ intellectual and academic expertise in the area of public scholarship and community engagement, and recognizes his outstanding leadership — and organizational acumen — during the past two years in this area,” Hexter said. “It also acknowledges his stature and role as a peer among his fellow vice provosts and other academic leaders in advancing our tripartite mission of teaching, research and public service.”
Indeed, the origins of this title change come from a report prepared by former dean of UC Davis Extension (now called Continuing and Professional Education) Dennis Pendleton in the fall of 2015 titled, “Community-Engaged Scholarship at UC Davis: A Strategic Vision.” Among other recommendations, it urged the creation of an office focused on university-community engagement led by an experienced academic leader reporting directly to the university’s chief academic officer, the provost.
Training, workshops, fellowships
As head of the Office of Public Scholarship and Engagement, and guided by the implementation framework, Rios is charged with convening, organizing and leading initiatives and programs to amplify and support UC Davis’ faculty, students and staff work in engaged scholarship and learning. These efforts include the development of tools and information to support UC Davis affiliates who wish to predicate their scholarship and learning on partnering with local, regional and statewide communities. Trainings and workshops, in addition to faculty fellowships, are planned to cultivate and foster a culture of engagement. Pilot projects that serve the university’s colleges and schools might include engagement action plans and coordination mechanisms to support curriculum-based projects with non-university groups.
“This new title will allow me to serve the university more effectively and better reflect UC Davis’ commitment to supporting engaged scholarship and learning,” Rios said. “I’m honored to serve in this position, which is critical to actualizing the university’s goals to reward and recognize publicly engaged scholars at UC Davis, improve community-based learning experiences for our students, and increase mutually beneficial community engagement that has a public impact.”
A member of the faculty since 2007, Rios’ scholarship focuses on spatial governance, community engagement and placemaking. He serves as UC Davis’ representative on the National Advisory Board of Imagining America, which relocated its headquarters to UC Davis in 2017. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in urban studies and architecture from Lehigh University, two master’s degrees from UC Berkeley (architecture and city planning), and a Ph.D. in geography from Pennsylvania State University.