Appointment of Judith L. Smith as Dean of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

February 3, 2017

UCLA Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

TO: Chief Administrative Officers, Deans, Department Chairs, Directors, Faculty, Vice Chancellors, Vice Provosts, and All Staff in the School of Music

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Judith L. Smith as founding dean of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, effective March 1, 2017. Judi has very graciously agreed to postpone her retirement and serve as dean until June 30, 2019.

Judi has been the school’s interim dean since January 2016, when the University of California Regents voted to formally establish the school. Following a national search for the inaugural dean, Chancellor Block and I determined that Judi was the best person to lead the school during these critically important early years.

She already has made great strides in building community, improving facilities, and fostering a balanced focus on scholarship, performance, composition and teaching of music in all of its contemporary and historical diversity. We are eager for this work to continue and deeply appreciate Judi’s willingness to extend her service to UCLA and the School of Music.

From July 2015 to January 2016, Judi was executive director of the emerging The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, which was then managed from within the School of the Arts and Architecture. She worked closely with faculty representatives from the departments of ethnomusicology and music (then in SOAA) and musicology (in the Division of Humanities) to develop a proposal for the UC’s first school of music.

Judi started her UCLA career in 1969 as an assistant professor of physiological science. Over the subsequent 42 years, she served as chair of her department (1980-85), chair of the UCLA Academic Senate (1994-95), dean and vice provost for undergraduate education (1996-2012), and chair of the College Cabinet of deans (2009-12). Judi won UCLA’s distinguished teaching award in 1973, and she remains a dedicated and much-admired teacher. Her research on spinal cord physiology and limb dynamics was continuously funded by the NIH for 27 years, and in 1990 she received a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award for her “exceptional talent, imagination and preeminent scientific achievement.”

As UCLA’s first dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, Judi was an energetic and effective advocate for curricular quality and pedagogical innovation. She established the Division of Undergraduate Education, spearheaded the creation of the Freshman Clusters, Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars, Writing II, Undergraduate Research Centers, Center for Community Learning and Scholarship Resource Center, and led a successful effort to transform UCLA’s General Education Curriculum. She established UCLA’s largest undergraduate scholarship program, raising an endowment of nearly $50 million.

Judi also made important contributions to UCLA’s diversity by initiating partnerships with community colleges, seeking extramural funding for special programs and establishing new programs to provide opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research and pursue science research careers. As UCLA’s liaison officer for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges re-accreditation process, Judi sparked such innovations as the Undergraduate Capstone Project and Challenge 45.

Although Judi is a scientist by training, she has an abiding commitment to the arts and to music in particular. She studied piano for 12 years and then harpsichord as a music minor in her undergraduate years. She also has a great passion for opera.

I want to thank the members of the search/advisory committee for their excellent service. While in the end we did not select one of their candidates to be dean, the committee worked diligently to produce a strong slate. University Librarian Ginny Steel chaired the committee. The other members were:

  • Nina Sun Eidsheim – professor of musicology; associate dean for academic mentoring and opportunity
  • Juliana Gondek – professor of music; associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Ronald A. Katz – chief executive, Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P.
  • Robin D. G. Kelley – Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History and distinguished professor of history
  • Raymond Knapp – professor of musicology; academic associate dean
  • Efrain Kristal – professor and chair, Department of Comparative Literature; professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and of French and Francophone studies
  • Angelia Leung – associate professor of world arts and cultures/dance
  • Steven Loza – professor and chair, Department of Ethnomusicology
  • James Newton – distinguished professor of ethnomusicology
  • Steven Olsen – vice chancellor and chief financial officer
  • Neal Stulberg – professor and chair, Department of Music

Chancellor Block and I are confident that Judi’s leadership abilities, extensive knowledge of UCLA and commitment to academic excellence will serve the school well. Please join me in congratulating her on her appointment as its founding dean.


Scott L. Waugh
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost