Interim UC Irvine chancellor nominated for permanent post

Interim UC Irvine chancellor nominated for permanent post
Howard Gillman, interim chancellor at UC Irvine, has been nominated as permanent head of that university. (UC Irvine)

Howard Gillman, a political scientist who has been interim chancellor of UC Irvine since July, is being nominated to become the permanent head of the massive Orange County campus.

Gillman became temporary chancellor of the 29,000-student school after Michael V. Drake, the campus leader since 2005, left to become president of Ohio State University. On Thursday, UC system President Janet Napolitano tapped Gillman to keep the job indefinitely after what was described as a wide national search involving more than 400 possible candidates circled back to him. Final approval by the UC regents is expected later this month.

Gillman had been a longtime political science professor at USC, where he was former dean of the university’s largest academic unit, the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. In June 2013, he switched over to the public UC system when he was appointed provost and executive vice chancellor of UC Irvine. Gillman already had deep connections to the UC system: he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at UCLA.

In a statement released Monday, Napolitano said Gillman "appreciates the entrepreneurial spirit and bold ambitions embodied by the campus, and he has the imagination, intelligence and energy to lead the faculty, staff and students to the next level of excellence."


Gillman, who is 55, would take over permanently as the Irvine campus is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The milestone attracted national attention with President Obama's graduation speech in June.

"Though it's a relatively young campus at just over 50 years old, UC Irvine is incredibly accomplished, with great aspirations. I look forward to forging a shared vision with all who teach, research, learn and work on the campus, and with the larger community outside the campus," Gillman said in a statement.

Officials said he was declining requests for interviews until after the regents review his nomination at a meeting in San Francisco in two weeks.

The school employs 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff, including those at its medical center.

Gillman's current annual salary as interim chancellor is $367,071. The regents also will be deciding the sensitive issue of whether to raise it despite Gov. Jerry Brown's opposition to high executive compensation at California's public universities.

Drake left for Ohio State, a school twice as big as UC Irvine, after what some observers said was his disappointment in not becoming the first African American president of the 10-campus UC system. Napolitano, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, was chosen as president and stepped into the job a year ago.

At Irvine, Drake presided over tremendous growth, with applications for undergraduate admissions increasing more than 90%. Drake, a physician, also helped to repair the image of UCI's Medical School after The Times reported in 2005 that more than 30 patients died awaiting liver transplants over a two-year period. Since then, the school has built a new hospital that has a strong reputation.

This is the second time in two months that an interim UC chancellor was given the job outright. In July, Sam Hawgood, the dean of UC San Francisco's Medical School and interim chancellor of that campus since April, was named head of that campus.

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