Elizabeth Watkins appointed as new UCR provost and executive vice chancellor

Elizabeth Watkins, newly appointed UCR provost and executive vice chancellor. Courtesy of Barbara Riesu via UCSF

UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox has appointed Elizabeth Watkins as provost and executive vice chancellor, effective May 1, 2021. The appointment is pending approval from University of California (UC) President Michael Drake. 

Watkins currently serves as the dean of the graduate division, vice chancellor of student academic affairs and as a professor in the Department of Anthropology, Department of History and the Department of Social Medicine at UC San Francisco. 

Watkins’ research focuses on the interrelations of medicine, science, commerce and culture in the United States in the 20th to 21st centuries. Watkins has published pieces on topics such as the history of prescription drugs, birth control, estrogen and female aging, testosterone, male aging, stress and disease. Watkins’ research has been funded by the Natural Science Foundation, the Natural Institute of Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Academy of Education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and her doctorate in the history of science, both at Harvard University. 

The provost and executive vice chancellor is responsible for managing the daily operations of the UCR campus, developing academic and administrative policies and working closely with the chancellor, the chair of the Academic Senate and the deans of UCR’s colleges, schools and divisions to formulate and realize campus goals. The provost is also responsible for the academic enterprise and numerous organizations report directly to the office. The provost is in charge of initiatives and ongoing projects related to the academic enterprise, including strategic planning and current and upcoming projects related to students, faculty and campus planning. 

Former UCR Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Cynthia K. Larive left the position after being appointed by the UC Board of Regents as the 11th chancellor of UC Santa Cruz. She served as the provost and executive vice chancellor of UCR from 2017-20. She began her position as the UC Santa Cruz chancellor on July 1, 2020. A national search for a permanent replacement began in fall 2019. In June of 2019, Graduate School of Education Dean Thomas M. Smith was appointed interim provost and executive vice chancellor. 

In a campus communication, Watkins stated, “I am excited about the opportunity to champion the education of first generation to college and historically underrepresented students … I am also keen to help develop and implement innovative programs to build on the UCR faculty’s existing foundation of nationally and internationally recognized scholarship to grow into a research powerhouse and to encourage and support external funding for scholars in all disciplines.”

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