Kevin Esterling Steps in as Interim Dean of the Graduate Division

The political science professor’s new role became effective on Sept. 15

The staff, and the programs that support UC Riverside’s more than 3,000 graduate students are now under the wing of Kevin Esterling, interim dean of UCR’s Graduate Division.

Esterling, a political science and public policy professor, completed his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Chicago and has been at UCR for 14 years. For the past four years Esterling has served as associate dean in the Graduate Division.

Kevin Esterling, interim dean of UCR's Graduate Division. sandra baltazar martínez

Kevin Esterling, interim dean of UCR’s Graduate Division.
sandra baltazar martínez

Esterling’s research focuses on deliberative democracy in American national politics, including the conditions that lead citizens to engage constructively in public discourse. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Kevin is a long-time UCR faculty member who has served effectively as associate dean for Graduate Academic Affairs and has been the force behind our successful GradQuant and Research Ethics Education initiatives,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul D’Anieri. “He is well prepared to steward the Graduate Division while we conduct the search for a new dean, which will get underway later this quarter,” D’Anieri said.

UCR has about 50 graduate programs that range from dance to biochemistry; the School of Medicine’s medical students do not fall under Graduate Division, he said.

“It’s mind boggling the sheer amount of research that gets done on this campus,” Esterling said from his office at the University Office Building.

Esterling became interim dean effective Sept. 15, in the wake of the departure of longtime dean Joseph Childers. Since then, Esterling has focused on managing budgets, the graduate admissions process, and supervising about 20 full-time staff.

The Graduate Division offers many support programs, including GradQuant, created by Esterling himself, which trains students in interdisciplinary quantitative methods.

Beyond creating programs to assist graduate students, Esterling admits he has stayed at UCR because he feels his work matters. Before coming to UCR he was a professor at Dartmouth University, and worked with students who typically came from privileged backgrounds.

At UCR, he has a chance to work with students who are first generation college students. In every class his goal is to get them to think about why working hard in college pays off to get ahead in life. He also pushes them to think about going to grad school, he said. “Working at UCR — and this is true for all the faculty here — we feel we are serving a larger purpose,” Esterling said.

He said one of his goals is to make sure the Graduate Division remains a “fun place to work.”

“I want to support staff so that they continue to do their excellent work,” Esterling said.

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