UC Davis conducted a national search for a new vice chancellor for student affairs. In the end, it chose the candidate closest to home: Adela de la Torre, who held the post on an interim basis, will officially assume the job Aug. 1.
De la Torre officially assumes the appointment Aug. 1. She replaces Fred Wood, who in June 2012 became chancellor of the University of Minnesota, Crookston.
As vice chancellor, she will oversee 750 staff, 3,000 student employees and a $400 million budget that includes enrollment, academic support, financial aid, student housing and food service, student health and psychological services, internships and career services.
“We have such amazing students, staff and faculty at UC Davis,” said de la Torre, an agricultural and health economist and an expert of social determinants of Latino and Chicano health, in a news release. “Together, we can do much to enhance and promote UC Davis’ student experience.”
Chancellor Linda Katehi called de la Torre “a passionate advocate for our students and the opportunities that a world-class education at UC Davis offers” and said that as a member of the Academic Senate she has strengthened ties between academic and student support services.
During her time as the interim vice chancellor, de la Torre led a comprehensive evaluation of undergraduate life and supervised the introduction of the Aggie Grant Plan, aimed at extending more financial support for middle-class students. She also oversaw an initiative meant to protect students’ First Amendment rights created in the wake of the 2011 pepper-spraying of student protesters.
Speaking with The Enterprise in May, de la Torre said that a blue-ribbon committee on the undergraduate experience, made up of about 100 students, faculty and staff, had zeroed in on improving student advising as a key need.
“That’s where I think the staff and faculty can do a better job,” de la Torre said. “Yes, (students are) satisfied with their degree, but we want to make sure that they don’t have a lot of side stops. Sometimes, those stops are important, but we want to be able to say, ‘This is the best path if you want your degree in four years.’ ”
Such advising should extend beyond academics to internships, study-abroad programs and other activities, she said: “We feel that students need to not just get through with a major — but that they should have all the co-curricular elements that will make them competitive in the job market or in a professional school or graduate school.”
De la Torre will receive a base annual salary of $235,998, the same she received as interim vice chancellor. Her predecessor, Wood, who held the position starting in 2007, was earning $210,000 annually at the time of his departure.
De la Torre joined the UCD faculty in 2002. Her research has focused on the economic variables implicated in health behavior, recruitment and outreach strategies aimed at increasing educational access, and academic language proficiency development in California schoolchildren.
Beginning in 2004, she acted as a director of the Center for Transnational Health. She will retain her appointment as a faculty member in the department of Chicana/o studies, which she has previously chaired.
De la Torre brings to the vice chancellorship a reputation for promoting student access and diversity, according to UCD.
Last year, Emily Prieto, who heads up Northern Illinois University’s Latina Resource Center, and who earned her Ph.D., master’s and bachelor’s degrees from UCD, recognized de la Torre’s mentorship by naming her to an honor society promoting excellence among Latinos.
De la Torre earned a bachelor’s degree in political economy of natural resource and both her master’s degree and doctorate in agricultural and resource economics from UC Berkeley. Beginning in 1988, she served as a professor and in academic leadership roles in the California State University system and, later, at the University of Arizona.