Scripps College academic leader named Provost of University of the Pacific

Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert

Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert

Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert, a highly respected academic leader at Scripps College and biology professor at Scripps, Claremont McKenna College and Pitzer College, will be the new provost and executive vice president of University of the Pacific, officials announced today.

Edwalds-Gilbert served for six years as associate dean of the faculty at Scripps College, the No. 2 academic post at the all-women’s liberal arts college, one of the five Claremont Colleges in southern California. Scripps is ranked No. 33 by U.S. News and World Report among national liberal arts colleges.

Most recently she served for 15 months as acting vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, the college’s top academic post.

She also has extensive experience working across all five of the Claremont schools, including serving as faculty director of the Claremont Faculty Leadership Program.

A molecular biologist who earned a Ph.D. from Weill Medical College of Cornell University/Sloan-Kettering Institute and a B.A. in biology from Swarthmore College, she is a biology professor on the faculties of Scripps, Pitzer and Claremont McKenna. She also is a visiting scientist at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Warsaw Institute for Genetics and Biotechnology in Poland.

“We are honored to welcome Dr. Edwalds-Gilbert to the Pacific family as the leader of our academic enterprise,” said Pacific President Christopher Callahan.

“I’ve gotten to know Gretchen during our search process. She is, quite simply, precisely who we were seeking: a positive, optimistic and forward-looking leader who practices clear, constant, respectful and trustworthy two-way communications with all stakeholder groups—faculty, students, deans, Regents and Cabinet—and a higher education thought leader who places a premium on collaboration, innovation and—most importantly—the success of her students.”

As provost, Dr. Edwalds-Gilbert will be working side-by-side with faculty, deans, staff and the President’s Cabinet on building new and innovative curriculum and improving all dimensions of the student experience to increase the success of Pacific students.

She will have direct responsibility for the university’s nine schools and colleges across the three campuses in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco, more than 1,250 faculty and staff and 6,300 students.

She will join Pacific on July 1.

“I am excited to join Pacific and to work with deans, faculty, staff and students to continue to enhance the student experiences at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels,” Edwalds-Gilbert said. 

“I look forward to working closely with a team of leaders who are innovative and committed to making Pacific the nation’s best student-focused comprehensive university,” she said. “Pacific's student-centered mission, emphasis on diversity and inclusion, striving for academic excellence and community engagement are all values and goals that I share and will seek to foster as provost.”

Scripps Vice President for Academic Affairs Amy Marcus-Newhall said Edwalds-Gilbert “will bring energy, curiosity, intelligence and compassion to this new role. She will be sorely missed at Scripps College, but we wish her well and know that she will bring a thriving leadership to University of the Pacific as she did at Scripps.”

Before joining Scripps, Claremont McKenna and Pitzer as an assistant professor of biology in 2000, she was a post-doctoral research scientist at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and an assistant professor at North Central College in Illinois.

She will succeed Maria Pallavicini, who is retiring after serving as provost for the past 12 years and serving for one year as interim president.

Edwalds-Gilbert is the newest member of Pacific’s leadership team assembled by Callahan since he started as president 2 1/2 years ago after 15 years as dean and vice provost at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Earlier this year, Lee Skinner, dean of Newcomb-Tulane College at Tulane University and former associate dean at Claremont McKenna College, joined Pacific as dean of the College of the Pacific, the university’s liberal arts and sciences school and the largest college.

Last year, James Walsh, executive director and university controller at Tufts University, joined Pacific as chief financial officer. University of San Francisco School of Management Dean Charles Moses was named dean of the Eberhardt School of Business. Niraj Chaudhary was promoted to dean of the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center. Suong Ives, chief human resources officer for Providence St. Joseph Health System and former HR chief at Clarkson University, was appointed Pacific’s first chief people officer

In 2021, UCLA Dean for Students Maria Q. Blandizzi was named vice president for student life. Liz Orwin, head of engineering at Harvey Mudd College, another one of the five Claremont Colleges, was appointed dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science. Mary Lomax-Ghirarduzzi, vice provost for diversity at the University of San Francisco, was appointed Pacific’s inaugural vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Scott Biedermann was promoted to vice president for development and alumni relations. Christopher Ferguson, an enrollment strategist from Occidental College, was the first of the new president’s leadership hires when he was named Pacific’s vice president for enrollment strategy.

The search for the new provost was co-chaired by Blandizzi and Dugoni School of Dentistry Professor Paul Subar.

Pacific is California’s first and oldest university, founded in 1851. The university, with campuses in Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco, is ranked as the No. 19 college in the West by The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education and in the Top 100 nationally.