What a whirlwind summer it’s been – and already we’re back to welcoming in our new class of Anteaters! Last week, I had the awesome opportunity to speak with our 1003 new social sciences freshmen and 835 new transfer students who join our 4,926 returning students, adding up to our largest undergraduate student population EVER in social sciences – 6,764 Anteaters. Our entering class - comprised of nearly half first generation students for whom we proudly offer tailored resources to ensure success - was selected from among another record-setting pool of more than 117,000 applicants to UCI. I’m so excited to help our new students see why making UCI their #1 choice was the right move. We’re also welcoming in (and back) our largest graduate student population to date; 97 new Ph.D. students and 18 master’s students are joining our 355 continuing Ph.D. students to bring our total grad student count to 470. That brings our total social sciences student count to just under 7,250. They make up a university that Money magazine ranks as the #1 best college in the nation; The New York Times College Access Index ranks as the #1 university doing the most for the American dream; Sierra magazine ranks as the #1 “Cool School” in the U.S. for sustainability; and U.S. News & World Report ranks as the #9 best public university in the country.

It has been a remarkable year and we’re looking forward to an even better one. Joining our faculty this year are 8 new scholars coming in from universities across the globe, some fresh out of their Ph.D. programs and many in established careers as outstanding researchers and educators. Learn more about their expertise and experience here, and if you’re a member of the soc sci faculty or staff, join us in welcoming them at our annual Zotoberfest on October 3.

We also welcomed in our new assistant dean, Rebecca (Becky) Ávila. As the school’s most senior-ranking staff member, she will oversee all planning, operations and management for one of the top 50-ranked social sciences schools in the nation. Her selection as assistant dean follows the retirement of David Leinen who held the role from 1999 to 2019. With her hire, Ávila is the school’s fourth assistant dean and first female to serve in the role since the establishment of social sciences in 1965 as one of campus’s five original academic pillars. Welcome, Becky!

As we continue to serve an increasingly diverse student body—and in a time where role models and allies are more important than ever to our students--I am truly grateful for the work our chairs, equity advisor and search committees put into demonstrating our commitment to a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives for enhancing campus climate and advancing scientific knowledge.

Keeping with tradition, I like using this time each year to highlight some of our outstanding accomplishments from the year past, and because the list always seems to get longer and at risk of missing anyone, I’m only going to hit on a few programmatic announcements. As always, you can keep up with our never-ending cycle of excellent news online and via our enews (email communications@socsci.uci.edu or sign up here to be added to our distribution list). And while you’re on our site, check out our running list of soc sci in the media. Last year alone, more than 110 faculty and students were cited and/or featured in 300+ different media outlets, ranging from The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, NPR and major news networks ABC, CBS and NBC to Nature, Scientific American, National Geographic Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Mom.com, GQ, MTV, Bitchmedia and everything in between. We launched a new graduate program this year in language science – the first such doctoral program in the country – and we’re currently accepting student applications for fall 2020. We also celebrated the establishment of the Department of Global and International Studies in social sciences. Previously the Program in International Studies, the new status allows the department to pursue development of a graduate program and hire its own faculty members – now seven professors strong - who teach more than 500 international studies undergraduate majors and many more students in high enrollment campus elective courses. We also launched the Center for Population, Inequality, and Policy, a new Organized Research Unit on campus focused on understanding the causes and consequences of socioeconomic inequality in the U.S.

We had another stellar year in securing extramural grant research funds with more than $6.7 million in awards coming in from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Russell Sage Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Social Science Research Council, as well as others. External research funding is up 61% with funds supporting our world class researchers studying topics ranging from cognitive robotics, sleep, conservation, and immigration to incarceration, child health, hiring practices, and tax credits. These are in addition to numerous other awards, each of which is helping our faculty advance research in crucial areas.

And our graduate students had an awesome year in fellowship and grant funding success, securing competitive, multi-year packages from agencies from the National Science Foundation to The Wenner-Gren and Haynes Foundations.

Our undergraduate student groups and programs – from the Dean’s Ambassadors Council, Global Connect and SAEP to the Olive Tree Initiative, DIRHA, DDI and First Gen First Quarter Challenge continue to enhance the educational experience for all of our students while exemplifying our commitment to an inclusive environment on campus as well as outreach to area high schools.

It has also been an amazing year in terms of honors and awards for our faculty. And like I said, rather than list them all and risk missing one, I invite you to check out our featured news highlights showcasing all of our outstanding award winners, grant recipients, researchers and featured colleagues. You’ll also find listed there a number of undergraduates, graduates and alumni who were recognized for outstanding achievements and awards including our Fulbright and Lauds and Laurels recipients, and a list of our 26 dedicated staff members who received service awards at the annual Staff Assembly recognition ceremony. Kudos to all of our dedicated and hardworking faculty, staff and students who help us each day in achieving our research, teaching and service successes.

As we begin the fall quarter, you’ll soon hear news of the campus’s Brilliant Future campaign launch. In social sciences, we’ll be setting an ambitious fundraising goal to continue the successes we’ve had in bringing in philanthropic and donor support. More to come on that as we roll out events and opportunities around the fundraising campaign, and work with our dedicated alumni and community volunteers who have already made a huge impact on the school and campus.

Again, welcome to our all of our new and returning faces. Let’s have a terrific year! 

Bill Maurer, Dean


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