Smith returns to alma mater as Associate Vice Chancellor of Research

Jessi L Smith;
MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

Jessi L. Smith, current psychology professor at Montana State University, will join UCCS as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research Aug. 15. She will be the first full-time person to serve in this role in the university’s history.

“Jessi has an impressive record of being a productive and successful researcher,” Provost Tom Christensen said. “I’m looking forward to working with her to support the growth of faculty and student research.”

Along with her professor appointment, she served as special assistant to the provost as the Director of ADVANCE. During that time, she led a team to implement a National Science Foundation grant to broaden the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and social behavioral science fields. Under her leadership, MSU women faculty annual research expenditures more than doubled in just five years time to more than $14 million.

Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCCS, and her master’s and doctorate’s in social psychology from the University of Utah.

“I’m proud to come back to my alma mater. UCCS is where I fell in love with research” Smith said. “The university has made a commitment to research with the expansion of this position and I’m excited to build on the momentum to instill an inclusive culture of research and creativity that inspires students and faculty alike.”

Smith will serve as a full-time replacement for Kelli Klebe, who served in the previous half-time role along with her half-time appointment as dean of the Graduate School. Klebe will remain dean of the Graduate School and return to a half-time faculty appointment in the Department of Psychology.

The expanded position will provide leadership, oversight and promote growth for campus research and sponsored program activities. Smith will also oversee policies and procedures, and promote professional development of faculty for sponsored programs and research integrity.

“It takes a village…as the saying goes” Smith said “and the great news is that I am coming into this position with a wonderful team already in place, a predecessor who is willing to mentor and advise me, and a Provost who is enthusiastic about the mission. Add to this the outstanding students and faculty, and what do you get? The perfect catalyst for careful and creative growth.”

Provost Christensen thanked the search committee for its outstanding efforts. Committee members:

  • Melissa Benton, associate professor, Nursing Department, Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Terry Boult, professor, Computer Science Department, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Grant Clayton, assistant professor, Teaching and Learning Department, College of Education
  • Brian Duvick, associate professor, History Department, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Barbara Gaddis, senior executive director of student support and retention, Student Success
  • Martin Garnar, dean, Kraemer Family Library (chair)
  • Gwendolyn Gennaro, executive director, Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Integrity
  • Melinda Hagemann, executive director of university development, University Advancement
  • Morgan Lee, assistant professor, Health Sciences Department, Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Karen Livesey, assistant professor, Physics Department, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Michael Sanderson, associate director, Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Integrity
  • Emily Skop, professor, Geography and Environmental Studies Department, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Andrea Williams, program assistant, Psychology Department, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

The committee received support from Dana Herrera-Garcia, administrative assistant, Provost’s Office.

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