Students + Campus

Howard Gillman, three-time UCLA graduate, is appointed UC Irvine chancellor

Howard Gillman, chancellor of UC Irvine
UC Irvine

UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman

The University of California Board of Regents today approved President Janet Napolitano’s selection of Howard Gillman as the sixth chancellor of UC Irvine.

Gillman, UC Irvine provost and executive vice chancellor for the past year and interim chancellor since July 1, leads a campus with more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff. Consistently ranked among the nation’s best universities, it is a major intellectual and cultural center that generates an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion in Orange County and provides medical care as the county’s only academic medical center.

A seasoned university academic leader and accomplished fundraiser, Gillman, 55, is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional studies and judicial politics. A UC Irvine professor of political science, history and law, he has authored or co-authored seven books and dozens of articles, and has received several awards for teaching, including three at UCLA.

The only child of working-class parents, Gillman grew up in the San Fernando Valley. Inspired by a high school history professor to study constitutional law and the U.S. Supreme Court, he entered UCLA, becoming the first in his family to attend college. He earned three degrees in political science at UCLA. In 1980, he received a B.A. degree magna cum laude. In 1981, he was awarded his master’s degree and in 1988 his Ph.D.

Gillman recalled his first days at UCLA in his remarks today before the regents, who are meeting in San Francisco.

“Exactly 38 years ago this month, I started my first college classes as a first-generation freshman at UCLA: Intro to Political Science, Intro to Psychology, Intro to Astronomy – all in Moore 100, a large lecture hall — and freshman writing. It did not take me long before I decided that if I had the chance to spend my life within such a world of inquiry and discovery, then I would be a very lucky person.”

Gillman noted that his wife, Ellen, also benefited from UC, with a B.A. degree from UC San Diego and a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA. “The University of California also brought us together — we met when we both participated in a program out of Academic Advisement to use advanced graduate students to reach out to freshmen who might need a little more support in order to flourish.”

As a teaching assistant at UCLA in 1984, Gillman received the Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award given campuswide by the UCLA Academic Senate. In 1981-82 and 1982-83, he was named teaching assistant of the year by the Undergraduate Political Science Honors Society.

One of his teachers at UCLA was emerita professor of history Joyce Appleby. “I found him a lively, curious and charming student,” she recalled.

Before his appointment as provost at UC Irvine, Gillman served for five years as dean of the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science. As a professor of political science, history and law at USC, he was awarded the university’s top award for excellence in teaching.

In June 2013, Gillman was appointed provost and executive vice chancellor of UC Irvine. He has served since then as the chief academic and operating officer, working closely with UCI’s five vice chancellors, 12 deans, the university librarian, Academic Senate leadership and the chief executive officer of the UC Irvine Medical Center.

Regents Chairman Bruce D. Varner noted that Gillman emerged as the top candidate after a national search that attracted 405 applicants.

“Howard Gillman has all that it takes — a record of leadership, scholarship and fundraising skills — to lead this vital campus,” said Napolitano. “UCI faculty members serve students and the larger community through outstanding teaching, research and public service. And its medical center meets health needs day in and day out.”

 “Strong leadership is central to the excellence of each of our 10 campuses,” Varner said. “Chancellor Gillman has demonstrated he has the leadership attributes, the vision and the dedication to public service needed to move UC Irvine forward with vigor and integrity.”

In addition to leading strategic planning and the implementation of campus initiatives as provost, Gillman worked with deans to recruit and retain faculty. During the past year, 28 percent of new faculty members were members of underrepresented groups.

“I am honored and humbled by this vote of confidence in me, to lead UC Irvine as its sixth chancellor,” Gillman told the regents. “There is no greater force for the advancement of human progress and enlightenment than the modern research university, and no more important institution serving our democracy than public research universities.”

This was adapted from a news release issued by the University of California Office of the President

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