CHAPEL HILL – Suzanne Trager Ortega, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs of the University of New Mexico, has been named senior vice president for academic affairs of the 17-campus University of North Carolina. The appointment, effective July 1, was announced today by UNC President Tom Ross. Ortega will succeed Alan Mabe, who retired this spring after more than 40 years in higher education.
As the University’s top academic officer, Ortega will be responsible for leading the University’s educational and research missions. In that role, she will advise the president and Board of Governors on academic issues and policies of University-wide importance and will oversee academic planning and budgeting, student affairs, sponsored programs and research, faculty support, licensure, and institutional research and analysis. She will also work closely with campus chancellors and chief academic officers on University-wide academic initiatives and help focus diverse campus missions to meet University and state goals and objectives.
Ortega is a sociologist with primary research interests in mental health epidemiology, health services, and race and ethnic relations. A graduate of Brevard Junior College in Florida and Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, she earned master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology at Vanderbilt University. Before assuming her current post at the University of New Mexico in 2008, she served as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1995-2000), Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Missouri-Columbia (2000-05), and Vice Provost and Graduate Dean at the University of Washington (2005-08).
As New Mexico’s flagship research institution, UNM offers 94 undergraduate degree programs, 74 master’s degree programs, and 40 doctoral programs. It enrolls more than 24,000 students on the main campus and another 6,700 students at branch campuses and centers. As provost and executive vice president, Ortega has been actively engaged in efforts to improve undergraduate student success, including the development of a comprehensive advising system and the implementation of an aggressive plan to improve retention and graduation rates.
Ortega is the author or co-author of numerous professional journal articles, book chapters, and an introductory sociology textbook, now in its 8th edition. Active in professional and community organizations, she has chaired the board of the Graduate Record Exam, served as vice chair of the Commission on the Future of Graduate Education in the United States, and served on the Council of Graduate Schools Advisory Committee on Responsible Conduct of Research, the National Science Foundation Human Resources Expert Panel, and the American Association of American Universities Task Force on Improving Graduate Education and Early Research Careers. An award winning teacher, she has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on state and federal grants totaling more than $6 million.
The oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina enrolls more than 220,000 students and encompasses all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation’s first public residential high school for academically gifted students. The UNC Center for Public Television, with its 12-station statewide broadcast network, the UNC Health Care System, and the NC Arboretum are also under the University umbrella.