Provost Lavernia on KUCI

Provost Enrique Lavernia

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Enrique Lavernia was recently interviewed by Kevin Bossmeyer on KUCI’s UCI Conversations program.

Click here to listen to the full interview

See sample excerpts below:
Q: What is a Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor? What does it mean to be Provost for you?
A: I’d like to begin with the description that Chancellor Gilman always provides when he’s describing me. I’m essentially the second in command. The two titles mean two different things. As Provost I am the chief academic officer which essentially means that all the academic deans report to me. As executive vice chancellor it means that I have a role in overseeing the rest of the vice chancellors and the budget for the entire campus.

Q: Has the job changed since you came here in July 2015? How have things evolved?
A: Unfortunately what appears to be the lack of support from the state government over the years continues to be the case and so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make the case to the state of the importance of higher education. Funding for the university has been a challenge and continues to be a challenge. This is at a time when our goals and ambitions have increased, when the pressure is on to admit more students from the state of California. So that continues to be there and it’s not a surprise. That’s a circumstance we have been living under for the last couple of years. Our philosophy has been that we are going to own our own future. We’re not going to wait for the state and that is part of the goal underlying the capital campaign.

Q: In terms of enrollment, have we topped out or we can continue to grow?
A: If you look at our enrollment goals, we are about where we want to be at the undergraduate level. For the next couple years, the strategic plan is to increase our Ph.D. students and our professional students and so that’s where we’re putting the emphasis now. That’s a goal that is particular to us. As we grew really fast in the last few years and when we look at the balance between undergraduate students and graduate students, it’s really important that we keep a healthy balance for the integrity of the pedagogy of the institution and graduate students is where we need to make some progress. We have been making progress but we need to continue to do so.

Q: In terms of your duties compared to the Chancellor, can you describe that?
A: I must tell you, I’ve worked with several chancellors, and Howard is the best chancellor I have worked with. And I don’t say that because I’m working with him now. He’s a great partner and he makes my job so much easier. In general, I tend to take care of the institution where as the Chancellor is more outward facing and he does that extremely well. But of course for strategic decisions that occur on a regular basis, I consult with him to make sure we are lined up. Critical hires, of course I consult with him to make sure we are lined up. And so it’s a partnership where it works well because he provides a vision and an outreach to the community that I think we’ve never had on this campus. That is paying dividends not just financially but in terms of reputation engagement and allows me to concentrate on the issues that come up every day on the campus.

Q: Where do we fall in terms of the UC schools across the state? I’ve watched this university turn into a global contender. Is that a conscious goal? Is it just part of what we do?
A: Well absolutely it is a deliberate effort in strategy to bring the university to the next level in terms of impact of resources. If you look at the strategic plan, first in class, research that matters, engagement with the community, financial sustainability, these are our pillars. They all reflect this plan that we are in the middle of bringing UCI to its true potential. One of the things that’s different about UCI, that I very much appreciate and something we talk about, is that we have great respect for our sister campuses. Berkeley is a world-class campus. UCLA a great campus. But our goal at UCI is to be the best UCI we can be. That gives us a certain intellectual freedom to do things that we think are right and to leverage the resources in our community. Orange County is what I call our secret weapon. A community that supports us, partners with us and not just financially but strategically. I think the results show that it’s working. So while people always like to rank us. We’ve been up and coming in terms of enrollment and applications, but the fact is we’ve got great campuses across the UC, and our goal is not to become another campus.

Listen to the full interview