Following a nearly 50-year career at UC San Diego, Associate Vice Chancellor (AVC) for Public Programs and Dean of Extension Mary Walshok has announced that she will conclude her tenure as dean in June 2021. She will continue her service as AVC for Public Programs through the successful launch phase of the university’s new downtown platform, anticipated to open in the fall of 2021. In this role, she will continue to work closely with community outreach leaders across UC San Diego to steward a rich portfolio of arts, lectures, special events, and educational offerings of value to San Diego’s highly diverse regional community.
Dr. Walshok is a highly respected thought leader and subject matter expert on aligning workforce development with regional economic growth. An adjunct professor of sociology, she has authored six books and more than 100 articles, reports and book chapters on regional innovation, workforce development and the role of research institutions in regional economies. Dr. Walshok has been recognized through numerous awards including the Bynum Tudor Honorary Lectureship at Oxford University, conferment of the Royal Order of the Polar Star by the King of Sweden, an honorary doctorate from the Stockholm School of Economics, and most recently, as the recipient of the highest award for service to the society and the economy presented by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering and Economic Sciences, of which she is an elected member. She serves on the boards of San Diego CONNECT (which she helped found in 1985), the La Jolla Playhouse, the San Diego Opera, the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science, ACCESS Academy, the Kyoto Symposium Organization, and the Girard Foundation.
Dr. Walshok joined UC San Diego Extension in 1972, was appointed associate dean in 1975, and dean in 1980. UC San Diego Extension has prospered under her leadership, with the curation of an exceptional compendium of programs that serves the critical lifelong learning and skill development needs of more than 80,000 enrollees annually, including more than 27,000 students in over 4,400 courses.
Throughout her tenure, Dr. Walshok played an active role in helping UC San Diego expand its local impact, national reputation and global reach. She and her team have developed outreach efforts to accelerate the San Diego region’s economic vitality, grow the region's globally competitive talent pool, and help college graduates transition to high-demand employment areas.
In support of the campus’ strategic goal of increased access, Extension has expanded and diversified programs targeted to first-generation and low-income, pre-college youth which today serve over 100,000 students, teachers and parents annually. These programs include Sally Ride Science, Library NExT, Program Your Future, the Boz Life Science and Teaching Institute, Engineering and Data Science Academies, as well as Academic Connections, a program focused on inclusively readying pre-college youth for university study, originally established in partnership with former VCSA Joseph Watson.
Under Dr. Walshok’s leadership, Extension has also expanded access to a wide variety of regional intellectual resources through the award-winning UCSD-TV and nationwide through UCTV. Catalyzed by early grants from Google and YouTube, UCTV has become the most watched, research university platform on the web, with 700,000 YouTube subscribers and millions of program visitors and downloads monthly.
In 1974, Dr. Walshok launched one of the nation’s first University-based learning in retirement programs, modeled after a program at the New School in New York City, the Institute for Continued Learning. With substantial funding from the Osher Foundation, the program has evolved into the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which now serves nearly 1000 members annually.
In her early years as dean, Walshok forged critical partnerships with faculty, campus departments, and regional business leaders to launch successful programs that continue today. Examples include a highly popular Executive Program for scientists and engineers; UC San Diego CONNECT (now San Diego CONNECT); Athena; and the San Diego Dialogue (now the Smart Border Coalition), created in partnership with the Division of Social Sciences, a program which analyzes cross-border issues and policy initiatives. Extension also collaborated with the Jacobs School of Engineering and the School of Medicine to launch two of the first fee-based Masters of Advanced Studies in the UC system. She also developed NEH and NSF funded institutes in teacher education, serving hundreds of teachers across the San Diego region.
Dean Walshok developed Extension’s capacity for managing large-scale public events by cultivating critical endowments for lectures, notably the Helen Edison Lecture Series which has offered free, high-profile public lectures by individuals such as economist John Kenneth Galbraith, anthropologist Stephen J. Gould; Nobel Laureate in literature Toni Morrison, Vice President Al Gore presenting “An Inconvenient Truth,” the initial visit by the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, and recently Bryan Stevenson, the founder of The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum.
In her AVC role, Dr. Walshok is currently shepherding UC San Diego’s major campus outreach initiative for the development, financing and programming of a downtown center at Park and Market which will serve as a platform for collaborative projects between UC San Diego and the San Diego community across multiple disciplines, including the performing and visual arts, social sciences, health and medicine, science and engineering, executive and continuing education. Once launched, the center will be an integral part of University Extension’s future.
We thank Dr. Walshok for her extraordinary service and impactful contributions to University Extension, UC San Diego, and the greater San Diego community. We look forward to continuing to work with her closely during this transition and as we bring the downtown location and programs to fruition. A search for the next dean of University Extension will begin this fall.
Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla and Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth H. Simmons sent this communication to UC San Diego faculty and staff on November 5, 2020.