Appointment of Erin Sanders O’Leary as Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning

March 24, 2023

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Erin Sanders O’Leary as UCLA’s inaugural vice provost for teaching and learning, effective August 16, 2023. In this role, Professor O’Leary will lead the newly established UCLA Teaching and Learning Center and serve as a key resource for, and driver of, innovation and collaboration in teaching across UCLA’s broad academic landscape.

Professor O’Leary currently serves as executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), where she is also associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and associate adjunct professor in microbiology and immunology in the College of Medicine. But her new appointment at UCLA is a homecoming of sorts. Previously, she served for six years as the founding director of the Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences at UCLA, where she also was a faculty member in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics and Life Sciences Core Education.

At both UIC and UCLA, Professor O’Leary has consistently worked in partnership with faculty collaborators and other multidisciplinary units to spearhead new pedagogical training paradigms for faculty, instructors and graduate student teaching assistants. Her scholarly interests focus on pedagogical research as it relates to both learner experiences in the classroom and the efficacy of professional learning programs designed to support instructors themselves. In addition, Professor O’Leary is a devoted educator, having dedicated more than 16 years to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses. She has a track record of leading curricular transformation efforts aimed at closing equity gaps in college math and science courses.

Professor O’Leary is a published author and recognized research scholar in science education and has been awarded millions of dollars in federal and foundation grants over the years to support these efforts. Together, these experiences have shaped her learner-centered, equity-minded and innovative approach to teaching and learning as well as professional development for instructors. She is the recipient of various awards and honors including the 2014 UCLA Life Sciences Excellence in Educational Innovation Award; the 2016 JMBE journal spotlight for Stellar Science Education Research; and the 2018 UCLA Academic Senate’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award. She is a 2006 fellow, 2017–18 teaching mentor and current member of the National Institute on Scientific Teaching and a 2018–19 scholar of the Biology Teaching Assistant Project program. Professor O’Leary currently serves on external advisory boards for two NSF-funded projects, including one in data science education and another in graduate student professional development. She received her B.S. with highest honors in chemistry from DePaul University and her Ph.D. in biological chemistry from UCLA.

I want to thank all those who made nominations or provided input related to this important search, and to express my sincere appreciation to the advisory committee members for assembling an exceptionally strong pool of candidates for the position. Adriana Galván, dean of undergraduate education, professor of psychology and interim vice provost for teaching and learning, was the committee chair. Other members were: Simon Board – professor of economics; Lily Chen-Hafteck – professor of music, head of music education and special assistant to the inaugural dean for curricular reform, Herb Alpert School of Music; J. Nicholas Entrikin – professor of geography, emeritus; Sylvia Hurtado – professor of education and special advisor to the chancellor on Latina/o/x affairs; and Joshua Samani – assistant teaching professor (LPSOE), physics and astronomy.

I also wish to recognize and express my gratitude to Adriana Galván for serving as interim vice provost for teaching and learning since last October, and for her continued longstanding commitment and many contributions to UCLA.

Professor O’Leary has shared with us that she is delighted that UCLA has deepened its commitment to supporting talented educators and elevating our teaching enterprise through the creation of this new position, and she looks forward to serving in the role. Given Professor O’Leary’s UCLA roots, coupled with her administrative experience and compelling vision for inclusive and innovative education, Chancellor Block and I are confident that she will be an extraordinary addition to our campus leadership team.

Please join us in congratulating Erin and welcoming her back to campus and into this new role.


Darnell Hunt
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost