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Elizabeth H. Simmons

Executive Vice Chancellor

Dr. Elizabeth H. Simmons (she/her/hers) is the Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of California San Diego. In this capacity, she serves as UC San Diego’s chief academic officer and is responsible for policies and decisions relating to all academic programs and curriculum, instructional support programs, and faculty appointments and performance. She is the institution’s second-ranking executive officer and acts on behalf of the Chancellor in overseeing the University in his absence.

Simmons aspires for UC San Diego to work collectively and coherently in becoming an inclusive student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented university.  She envisions that the university will scale up the size, connectivity, and impact of research collaborations; be as proudly innovative in education as in scholarship; and empower every Triton to succeed – undergraduates, graduate students, staff, and faculty. 

In her time as Executive Vice Chancellor, Simmons has worked with colleagues in Academic Affairs and partners across all of UC San Diego (and the broader community) to develop overarching strategic goals -- and purposeful habits of collaboration required to make those aspirations attainable and sustainable. 

Overarching Strategic Goals Habits of Purposeful Collaboration
Erasing demographics in undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree attainment through a personalized campus experience addressing the needs of the whole student Institutionalizing equitable practices throughout UC San Diego’s work
Developing a culture of educational innovation and holistic teaching review that unleashes faculty creativity and promotes student success Extending partnerships throughout campus and the wider community
Promoting large-scale, interdisciplinary, and community-engaged research initiatives that initiative scholarship, innovation, and entrepreneurship Cultivating diverse revenue streams to support new academic initiatives
Uplifting the arts and humanities as an essential component of our campus identity Pursuing continuous improvement in infrastructure, policies, and practice – including lessons from the COVID era
Emphasizing the interplay between societal and scientific advances Employing collective impact to manifest shared goals and leverage common datasets, tools, and assessments across UC San Diego’s many unique programs
Executive Vice Chancellor Simmons authors an Inside Higher Ed column on Career Advice: Mend the Gap addressing issues that bridge the divide between administrators and faculty. Select essays include

Other recent published works in which the EVC was an author include:

 UC San Diego reflections:

HS EDI Summit- July 2019

Health Education- April 2019

Silent Tree- March 2019

Process Palooza- Dec 2018

Celebrating Jeff Elman- Oct 2018

Meet the Beach- Sept 2018

Gandhi Memorial Lecture- July 2018

Preuss Commencement- June 2018

Commencement Joy - June 2018

The Transfer Triton Day - May 2018

The Inclusive Triton Spirit - November 2017

Art in the Campus Landscape - October 2017


EVC Simmons is also a Distinguished Professor in the UC San Diego Department of Physics. As a theoretical high-energy physicist, Simmons' research focuses on the origins of the masses of the elementary subatomic particles, especially the top quark. She is currently studying how physics beyond the Standard Model might manifest in experiments in progress at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. She enjoys teaching physics courses at all levels, from introductory to graduate, and a central tenet of her mission as an educator is to encourage students from groups under-represented in physics to consider studies and careers in the physical sciences. 

After completing her undergraduate degree in physics at Harvard University magna cum laude and being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Simmons earned an M.Phil. in physics at Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar. She returned to Harvard for her doctoral degree and postdoctoral fellowship, and then spent a decade as a professor at Boston University before joining the MSU faculty in summer 2003. She is a Fellow of the AAAS, a Fellow, Outstanding Referee, and Divisional Councilor of the American Physical Society, an Honorary General Member of the Aspen Center for Physics, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She won the ACE Michigan Network's Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award in 2005 and MSU’s Robert F. Banks Award for Institutional Leadership in 2013.

Simmons has served as a US Delegate to the International Conference on Women in Physics in 2008 (Korea) and 2011 (South Africa) and since 2013 has co-organized bi-annual conferences on professional development for women physicists in the developing world at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (Italy). She writes a column “Mend the Gap” for Inside Higher Ed, addressing issues that bridge the divide between administrators and faculty and was a 2017 and 2018 Top Writer on Quora. Simmons spent six years as a member of the Organizing Board of the advocacy group lgbt+physicists, was a co-author of the 2016 LGBT Climate Report commissioned by the American Physical Society, and is the Past Chair of the American Physical Society’s Forum on Diversity and Inclusion.

In 2022, Simmons was a co-author on a paper examining the experiences of LGBT+ physicists, "LGBT+ physicists: Harassment, persistence, and uneven support," published by the American Physical Society. 

Read her Curriculum Vitae or visit her Faculty Profile to learn more about EVC Simmons' work. 

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