New Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor Appointed

The appointment draws controversy over claims of Howard Gillman’s poor relations with USC faculty.

UC Irvine recently announced the appointment of Dr. Howard Gillman, former dean of the University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, as its provost and executive vice chancellor, effective June 17. He succeeds Susan V. Bryant, who has served as interim provost since June 2012.

In his new role, Dr. Gillman will essentially be the university’s chief academic officer and chief operating officer. He will work closely with Chancellor Michael V. Drake, manage the university’s yearly $2 billion budget and oversee the hiring of new faculty. All of the university’s deans will report to Dr. Gillman, and he will oversee all academic programs, including research.

Dr. Gillman’s appointment concludes the nearly seven-month search for the new EVCP. A 22-person search committee comprised of administrators, faculty, trustees and students hosted two open town hall meetings back in October 2012, where they invited student and faculty input. Since then, the committee conducted a confidential search for candidates and interviewed them. Once they narrowed the pool of acceptable candidates to three or four, they recommended them to Chancellor Drake for consideration. It was Chancellor Drake’s decision to choose and appoint the new EVCP, and thus Dr. Gillman was chosen.

“What was particularly impressive about Dr. Gillman was that he had done an absolutely splendid job of increasing the research profile of the faculty at SC,” Albert F. Bennett, dean of the School of Biological Sciences and co-chair of the search committee, said.

“Also, he managed an extremely large school … that is a portfolio that doesn’t quite encompass all of the fields that the provost has charge over here, but it went a very long way toward that, so he demonstrated that he was able to lead and run a very large and diverse unit,” he continued. “We were very enthusiastic about his abilities within areas of advancement, philanthropy, and to raise money for the university.”

Bennett stated that, judging from Gillman’s personality, he will interact well with UCI students, faculty and staff.

“Dr. Gillman is a people person; he likes to interact and talk. He shares that with our chancellor,” he said. “I expect that he will attempt to engage student groups, engage faculty; I can envision a lot of talking and a lot of listening.”

From this, Bennett predicts that the UCI community will receive their new EVCP well.

“I think the reception is going to be very good,” Bennett said.

However, Dr. Gillman’s appointment has been met with controversy by some in the community, particularly by the Irvine Faculty Association (IFA) — a voluntary faculty association affiliated with the Council of UC Faculty Relations (CUCFR). A week before the May 20 announcement of Dr. Gillman’s appointment, the IFA Board sent a letter to Chancellor Drake voicing their concern over Gillman and the “lack of public review in the selection process.” A copy of the letter is available for view on the IFA’s website .

In the letter, the IFA Board wrote that colleagues at USC had conveyed that Gillman had poor relations with USC faculty, in particular with the American studies and ethnicity faculty. They also state that there is a perception among USC faculty that Dr. Gillman’s retention and tenure decisions, which reportedly adversely affected minority and women faculty, were “uneven, unclear and partial,” and that members of the senior faculty left during his term.

One pressing concern that the IFA Board addresses in the letter is “an appealed tenure case that is still pending as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint,” which cites data indicating that white, male professors in the social sciences and humanities departments at USC from 1988 to 2012 were more likely to be granted tenure than women and members of minority groups who worked in the same departments during that same period of time, according to several articles from The Chronicle of Higher Education, one of which is linked in the letter.

The case involves USC Assistant Professor of International Relations, Mai’a K. Dr. Davis Cross, who was denied tenure by Dr. Gillman in April 2012 due to “a lack of discipline-wide enthusiasm of her scholarly contributions,” according to an article from USC’s Daily Trojan, was also linked in the letter. Dr. Cross’ tenure application reportedly received support from both her department and faculty. She is of Hawaiian and Asian descent.

Cross claimed that during the final stages of the tenure evaluation process, Dr. Gillman contacted outside sources who were not familiar with her work.

When asked about the concerns brought up in the IFA’s letter, Bennett stated, “I will say that during the interview process, all of the candidates, including Dr. Gillman, were carefully vetted, both by the search firm [Isaacson, Miller] and by the committee, and by Chancellor Drake. We are obviously satisfied with his performance at SC.”

The ASUCI Legislative Council will discuss and vote on a bill to potentially condemn Dr. Gillman’s appointment in the coming week.