By Allison Sundaram
Lucia Albino Gilbert will have a lot of work to do when she starts her new job in October.
Gilbert, formerly the vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Texas, Austin, is stepping into the role of provost that Denise Carmody vacated last spring.
As provost, her role will include supervising the upcoming revision of the core curriculum and the reaccredidation process with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. She is the second female provost to ever work at Santa Clara.
“She’s coming at an interesting time for us,” said Diane Jonte-Pace, associate provost for faculty development.
Albino Gilbert will be joined at Santa Clara with her husband, Jack Gilbert, former professor of chemistry at UT-Austin, who will now head the chemistry department starting January 2007.
During one of Albino Gilbert’s campus visits, her husband accompanied her. In a serendipitous moment, the chemistry department had been unable to choose a new department head in the spring to replace outgoing Patrick Hoggard. When Gilbert visited campus, members of the chemistry department happened to meet informally with Gilbert.
“He had plenty of experience,” Hoggard said. “It became obvious he was a really good candidate.”
However, because of Gilbert’s duties at UT-Austin, he was unable to assume the role at the beginning of the year. Brian McNelis will be chair for the fall quarter and then Gilbert will replace him in the winter.
The university began a national search for a new provost when Carmody announced her intention to return to teaching during the winter quarter of 2006. Jonte-Pace said the committee received over 90 applicants. However, the university only invited three candidates to meet with students and faculty as part of the interview process.
Jonte-Pace was on the search committee which, helmed by Cynthia Mertens, professor in the school of law, made recommendations about hiring the provost to University President Paul Locatelli, S.J., during spring quarter.
“Lucia is very dynamic,” Mertens said. “She is obviously brilliant, and has a track record at UT-Austin that is absolutely incredible.”
Both said they were impressed by not only her academic accolades, but also with her personality. Additionally, when the committee interviewed others about Albino Gilbert’s abilities, “not one negative thing could be said,” according to Mertens.
While the search committee narrowed down the pool, the ultimate choice was Locatelli’s. In a statement, Locatelli wrote that Albino Gilbert is “an excellent listener and communicator,” qualities which both Mertens and Jonte-Pace say were impressive.
Locatelli made the decision to hire Albino Gilbert around the end of June. Since then, she has been back and forth to campus preparing to begin her new role. She was formally introduced to the campus community at convocation.
One great interest of Albino Gilbert’s is promoting undergraduate research. At UT-Austin, she implemented a program called Connexus, which was a way of connecting undergraduates with professors on research projects. She hopes to encourage interdisciplinary research and cooperation at Santa Clara, both through the core revision and her own projects.
“I’d like to get different colleges to work together, and to get more of a sense of connection between graduate and undergraduate (students),” she said.
Albino Gilbert also hopes to pursue some of her own interests in involving undergraduates in the research process.
“One of my dreams is to maybe have a small team of undergraduates to work on research projects related directly to Santa Clara, and on things that work for Santa Clara,” she said.
Although Albino Gilbert has come from a background of non-Catholic schools, she says that she has an affinity for the social justice aspect of Santa Clara.
“My whole life has been about social justice,” Albino Gilbert said. “For me at least, the Jesuit philosophy is living your life with enlightenment and education.”
Contact Allison Sundaram at (408) 554-4546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.