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New Dean Appointed To Lead UCR College

New Dean Appointed To Lead UCR College

(March 17, 1999)

Editor's note: a color photograph of Patricia O'Brien is available on the web at

After a nationwide search, Patricia O'Brien, a noted scholar of French history and culture, has been appointed dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. Her term begins July 1. O'Brien, who is currently the director of the UC Humanities Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine, will succeed Carlos V?ez-Ibáñez. He is completing a self-imposed five-year term as dean and will return full-time to his research in the field of anthropology.

UCR Executive Vice Chancellor David H. Warren said he is grateful to V?ez-Ibáñez for his vision and leadership, especially during a time of severe budgetary constraints. "He really has brought an inspired vision of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences that the faculty has responded to," Warren said. He noted that V?ez-Ibáñez won a $1.4 million grant from the Maxwell H. Gluck Foundation that pays for community education in music, poetry, art, art history, dance and theater. "Despite the (budgetary) adversity, he has managed to keep his eyes on the future," Warren said.

That future will belong to O'Brien, who graduated from Columbia University and taught at Yale University before holding several administrative positions at UC Irvine, including chair of the history department and associate vice chancellor for research. Since 1994, she has directed the UC Humanities Research Institute, which serves all of the UC campuses. She currently lives in Laguna Beach.

"The thing that will make her such a wonderful dean is the breadth of her interests and experience," Warren said. "She is expert at melding together groups of scholars to work on issues that are just fundamental to society. She leads by identifying their common interests. It is that manner that will make her successful."

O'Brien's own research area is 19th and 20th century French history, especially criminal justice. She has written four books, including, "The Promise of Punishment: Prisons in 19th-Century France."

She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center and has lectured at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales in Paris, France. She is currently writing her fifth book, "The Political Culture of the French State in the Nineteenth Century."

O'Brien said she feels privileged to be given the chance to work with the faculty of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences in shaping the future of the college, and of the university.

"UC Riverside is the most diverse of the UC campuses and is now facing rapid and sustained growth," said O'Brien. "The campus commitment to preserve quality in undergraduate teaching and excellence in research is a powerful attraction."

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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