Deborah Smith-Howell, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and dean of Graduate Studies at the of University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), has been named interim chief of staff to the Chancellor, effective July 1, 2021.
In this role, Smith-Howell will assist, support, and advise UNO Chancellor Joanne Li, Ph.D., in her first six months as chancellor, through Dec. 31, 2021. During this time, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Juan Casas, Ph.D., will serve as acting dean for graduate studies. Additional information regarding Casas’ appointment and next steps for Graduate Studies is available in the UNO News Center.
“Dr. Smith-Howell brings with her to this role a unique combination of deep institutional knowledge of our university, strong relationships throughout the Omaha community, and most important, a passion for watching all Mavericks achieve success,” Chancellor Li said. “These experiences and qualities will provide a strong foundation to build on in the years to come. I thank her for her decades of commitment to UNO and invite the entire university community to congratulate Dr. Smith-Howell.”
A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Smith-Howell joined the UNO in 1989 as a faculty member in the Department of Communication and served as department chair and founding director of the School of Communication from 1996 to 2004. She has served as associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and dean of graduate studies since 2007.
“This is an exciting time to be a Maverick. I am honored to work closely with Chancellor Li as she positions our university as the nation’s premier metropolitan university and becomes acquainted with our exceptional students, faculty, and staff,” Smith-Howell said. “I extend my sincerest thanks to Chancellor Li for this opportunity as well as my Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies colleagues for their well-wishes and support.”
Sacha Kopp, Ph.D., Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, commended Chancellor Li’s selection.
“Dr. Smith-Howell has provided wise counsel and support to me in my first two years at UNO,” Kopp said. “She is an outstanding choice to assist Dr. Li and the campus with this leadership transition.”
As dean for Graduate Studies, Smith-Howell provided administrative oversight of UNO’s Office of Graduate Studies, which includes the academic governance as well as student support for UNO’s 3,000-plus graduate students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs. Additionally, as associate vice chancellor and senior advisor to the senior vice chancellor, she is responsible for community engagement, including UNO’s Service Learning Academy; academic program development and review; academic strategic planning; and academic facilities planning.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.