Judith L. Smith, Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Plans to Retire

November 9, 2011

UCLA Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

To:  Administrative Officers, Deans, Department Chairs, Directors, Faculty, Staff in the Division of Undergraduate Education, Vice Chancellors and Vice Provosts

Dear Colleagues:

Judith L. Smith, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, has informed me that she intends to retire on December 12, 2012. For the past 16 years, Judi has been a tireless advocate for undergraduate education and has been instrumental in substantially improving education for all undergraduate students at UCLA.

Judi started her career in the fall of 1969 as an assistant professor in physiological science. Her 42 years at UCLA are marked by successes in teaching, research and service. She received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1973, becoming the second woman to be accorded this UCLA honor. She was the chair of her department for five years (1980-85) and, in 1991, was one of the founders of the undergraduate interdisciplinary neuroscience program. Her research on spinal cord physiology and limb dynamics was continuously funded by NIH for 27 years, and in 1990 she received a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, an honor granted to neuroscientists with a history of “exceptional talent, imagination and preeminent scientific achievement.” She was the chair of UCLA’s Academic Senate (1994-95), served as interim executive dean of the College of Letters and Science (2003-04), and has been the chair of the College Cabinet of Deans since 2009.

In 1996, Judi was appointed the first dean and vice provost for undergraduate education. Through her service as the administration’s advocate for undergraduate education and liaison to the Academic Senate’s Undergraduate Council, she has facilitated the transformation of policies and the adoption of new programs that have reshaped undergraduate education at UCLA. She established the Division of Undergraduate Education and was responsible for spearheading the creation of Freshman Clusters, Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars, Writing II, Undergraduate Research Centers, Center for Community Learning and Scholarship Resource Center, and she led a successful effort to transform UCLA’s General Education curriculum. Established units in her division, such as the Academic Advancement Program (AAP), College Honors Programs, College Academic Counseling, Office of Instructional Development (OID) and New Student and Transition Programs, continue to thrive under her guidance, despite the onslaught of deep budget cuts in recent years.

Over the past decade, Judi established UCLA’s largest undergraduate scholarship program, raising an endowment of nearly $50 million. Each year the division awards $3 million to support students engaged in entry-level and advanced undergraduate research, community projects, honors and diversity programs, as well as the College’s teacher preparation programs in math and science.

Judi has long advocated for increasing the diversity of UCLA’s student body and expanding mentorship programs for minority students. Her efforts were pivotal in establishing the UCLA Center for Community College Partnerships, and she created the innovative Vice Provost Initiative for Pre-College Scholars program for Los Angeles and Pasadena high school students. Under her leadership, the Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences, or PEERS, was formed to encourage freshmen to pursue science research careers. She also obtained extramural funds to launch the McNair and Mellon Mays research scholars programs for humanities and social sciences undergraduates in AAP.

Since 2005, Judi has been the administrative liaison officer for UCLA’s re-accreditation process through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The complex process, which spanned five years, led to innovations such as the Capstone Project and Challenge 45, and ushered in a new focus on the assessment of undergraduate education by faculty and students. The development of the UCLA Senior Survey and OID’s new comprehensive Center for Educational Assessment are evidence of her efforts in this regard.

We all are grateful for Judi’s years of productive and dedicated service. Replacing her remarkable leadership will be challenging. In the coming months, I will form a search committee to identify candidates for Judi’s successor, and I will keep you informed as we initiate the search.


Scott L. Waugh
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost