CHASS gets a Closer Look at New Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost Dr. Ellen D. Wartella

By Stephanie Wejbe, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing
August 25, 2004
 As of July 1, 2004 Dr. Ellen Wartella has taken active post in her new position as the Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost. Her days at UCR have been filled with half-day tours of the colleges and facilities on campus. This upcoming September she will be revisiting CHASS to meet with all of the department chairs. When asked how UCR life has been thus far, she described with a smile her experience as “wonderful,” adding that the campus is “feeling like home.”

Dr. Wartella earned her Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and completed her postdoctoral research in development psychology in 1981 at the University of Kansas. As an active scholar whose research focuses on the effects of media on child development; she held the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair in Communication, Mrs. Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair in Communication, UNESCO Chair in Communication, and Professor of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas. She has written and edited several books and has published numerous book chapters and journal articles on mass media and communications.

Dr. Wartella joins UCR after serving since 1993 as the Dean of the College of Communication at The University of Texas in Austin, the largest and most comprehensive communication college in the country. Under her leadership, the College has become one of the most coveted University of Texas campuses among prospective students. The College’s endowment has more than doubled and College faculty, departments, and programs have achieved national recognition for excellence. As a result the College has earned a reputation for high academic standards, innovation in the use of technology, creativity across and within disciplines, and strong industry partnerships.

In the role of Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Dr. Wartella will be responsible for implementation of academic and administrative practices and processes. In her words, she will be “making sure it gets done.” Her duties include serving as Acting Chancellor in the Chancellor’s absence, working closely with the Chancellor regarding campus policy and with the Deans in recruitment and retention of faculty, having responsibility for managing the daily operations of the campus, and being the principal liaison to the Academic Senate.

Though new to the campus, Wartella has begun demonstrating her leadership and campus commitment and recently appointed three new vice provosts who are also UCR faculty: Vice-Provost for Academic Personnel Bill Jury (Environmental Sciences), Vice-Provost for Conflict Resolution Yolanda Moses (Anthropology) and Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education Andrew J. Grosovsky (Cell Biology and Neuroscience). .

Wartella and Grosovky are establishing measures so the university can expand the opportunities and maximize the academic experience for its student body. A projected year-long assessment of current programs that best measure student academic success, such as the Freshman Discovery Seminars, will be conducted. Wartella emphasized how student success and learning is being “taken very seriously” and that the goal is to ensure that there are “a variety of support mechanisms to improve student success.”

Beyond implementation of policy, Wartella will be responsible for the formulation of the campus vision set by Chancellor France A. Córdova so that UCR and the College can make the transition from vision to achievement. Two key goals are the continuing commitment on building diversity and enhancing UCR’s reputation.

Wartella thoroughly supports Chancellor’s Córdova’s goal on recruiting faculty and building graduate programs that represent gender equity and reflect the diversity in our undergraduate population. Though recognized as one of the most diverse campuses at the undergraduate level, one that is currently led by two women, she hopes that in the future UCR will be recognized as a “strong campus on multiple levels.” As an on-going mission EVC/Provost Wartella will be experimenting with procedures that will increase diversity, allowing undergraduates and graduates to leave UCR prepared for further higher education pursuits and professional careers.

Initiatives are being introduced to enhance UCR’s reputation by increasing national rankings, its programs, and faculty. This effort will strive to draw public attention and recognition of excellence at UCR including the research currently being fostered in the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and its developing interdisciplinary programs. The Chancellor has formed a committee, which will convene to examine academic programs beginning Fall, 2004. The Committee consists of the Vice-Chancellor for Research Dr. Charles F. Louis and the Dean of the Graduate Division Dallas L. Rabenstein.

The College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences welcomes Dr. Wartella and looks forward to working closely with her. Eager to learn more about our interesting campus Wartella added that she is “excited and very privileged to be here.” Although there will be challenges, she hopes more resources will be available in the future to invest in the growth and benefits of UCR and its students.

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