August 3, 2017
I am pleased to announce that following an extensive international search, Dr. Elizabeth H. Simmons has been appointed Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, effective September 18, 2017.
Dr. Simmons is a highly distinguished physicist who focuses on particle theory and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She currently holds two leadership roles at Michigan State University, a public research university with a student population of more than 50,000. Since 2016, she has served as the associate provost for Faculty and Academic Staff Development, leading the Academic Advancement Network, which is charged with helping all 5,500 academic employees grow as teachers, scholars and leaders across the arc of their careers. She has also held the position of dean of Lyman Briggs College – a residential college that focuses on the study of science in historical, philosophical and sociological context – since 2007. As dean, she is responsible for academic matters including student recruitment, academic advising and retention; curriculum development and assessment; research profile and impact; faculty hiring, promotion and tenure; and managing operational matters such as facilities, finance and fundraising. During 2014-15, in addition to her role in Lyman Briggs College, she served as acting dean of the College of Arts & Letters, one of the three core colleges of the university. She has been a member of the Michigan State University Department of Physics and Astronomy within the College of Natural Science since 2003 and has held the rank of University Distinguished Professor since 2013.
Prior to her work at Michigan State University, Dr. Simmons held leadership positions at Boston University, which is where she began her career as an assistant professor in 1993. She was the director of the Boston University Learning Resource Network for Pre-College Outreach as well as the associate chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Physics.
Dr. Simmons earned her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University. She received her M. Phil degree in physics from the University of Cambridge where she was a Churchill Scholar. She is also an advocate for building diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and has served as a consultant on the subject for the American Physical Society, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy and Jefferson National Laboratory.
In her role as Executive Vice Chancellor, Dr. Simmons will serve as UC San Diego’s chief academic officer, responsible for oversight of academic programs, the recruitment and advancement of faculty, and for driving academic, student support and student outcome initiatives. The seven general campus divisions and schools, the Graduate Division and Undergraduate Affairs, six undergraduate Colleges, the University Library and University Extension will also fall within her purview.
I sincerely thank Jeff Elman for his leadership and being an exemplary chair of the search committee. This was very engaged search committee and I appreciate each member for their time, commitment and extraordinary efforts conducting this international search and providing me with a great slate of candidates.
I would also like to thank Peter Cowhey for his service as Interim Executive Vice Chancellor. During his time in this role, Dr. Cowhey has been a stellar leader and created strategic initiatives that include establishing multi-year metrics for faculty hiring, building support for the Halicioglu Data Science Institute, and developing a preliminary plan for Seventh College.
To continue building on some of the work he has done, I have asked Dr. Cowhey to serve as Special Advisor to the Chancellor for developing strategy for enrollment and revenue diversification in our academic programs. He will also resume his position as dean of UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy.
Dr. Simmons’ faculty appointment will follow the traditional process of review by the academic unit, Committee on Academic Personnel and the administration.
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Simmons to UC San Diego and thanking Dr. Cowhey for his service. We are fortunate to have them both on our campus.