Dear Social Sciences students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends,

Greetings, and welcome back from summer break! There is a lot of exciting news and many important milestones to share as we look forward to a fantastic fall. It has been a terrific year for social sciences at UC Irvine. Our students, alumni, staff and faculty set new standards for academic excellence, community engagement and world-shaping contributions to society. And our school continued its tradition of ensuring access to higher education to our diverse and growing student body.

There is always some hyperbole to beginning of the year messages. But when I start to list the accomplishments of the past 12 months, I think you’ll see why I am thrilled to be serving such amazing individuals and leading a team making a difference at home and abroad. Our Mock Trial team, for the second consecutive year, started their fall season ranked #1 in the nation over more than six hundred college teams. The program earned a third place finish at last year’s nationals, behind only Princeton and UCLA. Our international studies program was ranked one of the top programs in the nation by NerdScholar. Our alumnus, Geoffrey Pyatt (political science, ’85), was appointed to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine—just as crisis erupted. Jackie Lacey (psychology ’79) was the first woman and the first African American to be named district attorney of Los Angeles County. Social sciences alumni Nadia Bermudez (political science '98) and Rebecca Kanter (political science '00) received prestigious service awards from the San Diego County Bar Association.

Our faculty won a remarkable number of prestigious grants, fellowships and honors for their research and teaching. You can see a more complete list below—but given the sheer number, I am sure I’ve left some out. In all, our faculty won at least 15 awards for their research, teaching, community service and mentoring work. And the total estimated lifetime award amounts of new grants for ongoing research awarded last year is over $5.4 million.

Speaking of money, with your help, we raised $5,000 for student scholarships as part of the UC-wide Promise for Education Initiative. And we celebrated the accomplishment Star Trek style. With the help of our friends and donors, including Jean-Claude and Dina Falmagne and many others, we are on track to meet a fundraising record for the school.

To round out a fantastic year, President Barack Obama delivered a stirring commencement address to a crowd of over 35,000, including 6,000 graduates. Social sciences was there in full force: 40% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to the class of 2014 went to social sciences students. Standing next to President Obama, our very own Jacqueline Rodriguez (’14, sociology and Chicano/Latino studies) spoke to her classmates about the importance of higher education in fulfilling our aspirations for ourselves, our families, our communities and the planet.

It was a great year for our graduate students, too. Last year they were awarded dozens of competitive extramural fellowships from federal agencies and private foundations, including a Fulbright scholarship and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awards.  

We welcome 1,260 new undergraduates this year, including 526 transfer students—a large and incredibly diverse class demonstrating how important social sciences is to the campus’s mission of providing an excellent education with a commitment to inclusion. Our incoming graduate student cohort stands at 99, and is one of the largest and most diverse in the school’s history. It is also one of the most competitive, with our entering Ph.D. students having declined offers from Harvard, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley and UCLA (among many others) to become Anteaters.

Oh, and it’s the end of my own first year as dean! Since July 2013, we have been joined by 16 new faculty members across our departments including newly-minted Ph.D.s and established senior scholars. We’re launching two new MA programs and building out our online curriculum with new offerings and innovation awards. We also assembled a new alumni relations and development team. Heading it up is Tracy Arcuri, who comes to UC Irvine after having served as director of development for the Orange County Museum of Art. She is joined by Liz Dahl, who served the Paul Merage School of Business for eight years. Together with Rosemarie Swatez, Tracy, Liz and I are embarking on an ambitious plan to re-engage with our alumni, our community friends and leaders. We’ve had a busy summer and will be rolling out some exciting announcements and initiatives soon, beginning with an event for our alumni in New York on October 15. As UC Irvine competes with the very top ranks of world-class research universities, the fundraising mission has become more critical than ever. I’m excited about the opportunities our new development team is opening up; we’ve never been more connected with our more than 40,000 social sciences alumni.

I’m looking forward to sharing more exciting stories about our accomplishments as we activate the talents of the social sciences community and the wider Anteater Nation to enlighten, inspire and make a difference in the world. Let’s have a great year! Zot zot zot!

Bill Maurer
Dean, School of Social Sciences


Faculty Awards

  • Rubén Rumbaut, professor of sociology, was elected to the National Academy of Education and received the Distinguished Career Award from the American Sociological Association Section on International Migration
  • Howard Gillman, provost and professor of political science, was named chancellor of UCI and received two awards from the American Political Science Association’s Law & Courts Section
  • Vicki Ruiz, chair of Chicano/Latino studies and professor of history, was named president-elect of the American Historical Association
  • David Smith, professor of sociology, was named president-elect of the Society for the Study of Social Problems
  • Kristen Monroe, Chancellor's Professor of political science was named UCI’s Outstanding Mentor by the UCI Emeriti Association
  • Penelope Maddy , Distinguished Professor of logic & philosophy of science, was named the Phi Beta Kappa Romanell Professor, an honor bestowed by the nation's oldest academic honor society
  • Cecelia Lynch, professor of political science, received the Tickner Award from the International Studies Association
  • Barbara Dosher, Distinguished Professor of cognitive sciences, received the UCI Academic Senate Distinguished Faculty Award for Research AND the Alumni Association Lauds and Laurels Faculty Achievement award
  • Tony Smith, associate professor of political science, won—for the second time—the Bailey Award from the LGBT Caucus of the American Political Science Association
  • Joanne Christopherson, social sciences lecturer, received the R1edu award for online instructors and the Academic Senate Council on Student Experience Instructional Technology Award, honors that recognized her as an innovator in the distance learning effort
  • Jeanett Castellanos, social sciences lecturer with security of employment, was named Lecturer of the Year by the Academic Senate Council on Student Experience and she was also a 2014 Living Our Values Award winner
  • Caesar Sereseres, associate professor of political science, was a Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research recipient
  • Matthew Beckmann, associate professor of political science, was awarded the 2014-2015 Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching
  • Emeritus professor Rein Taagepera was awarded the UC-systemwide 2014 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award

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