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Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto Dean Designate Start Date: January 3, 2022

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Victoria DeFrancesco Soto is the Dean Designate of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas and currently serves as Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a political analyst for NBC News and Telemundo. 

Victoria is the first Latina Dean at a presidential institution and she was named one of the top 12 scholars in the country by Diverse magazine. Victoria previously taught at Northwestern University and Rutgers and received her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University.

Her areas of expertise include civic engagement, women, immigration, Latinos and political psychology. Underlying all of her research interests is the applicability of high-quality, rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities. Victoria has spent over two decades bridging academic, practitioner, community, and media realms in her quest to cultivate public service engagement across our national landscape.

In her role as inaugural Dean of Civic Engagement at the LBJ School Victoria created a Civic Engagement Program and oversaw the launch and management of the LBJ Women’s Campaign School.  She also secured numerous external partnerships and university-wide collaborations.

An award-winning professor, Victoria is deeply passionate about the intersection of curricular and community-based learning and cultivating dynamic classroom environments that are responsive to our real-world context. Throughout her more than 20 years in a classroom, Victoria has designed and implemented curricular innovation to challenge both herself and her students to think bigger and be maximally impactful. 

As the LBJ School’s first Chief Diversity Officer Victoria worked closely with the University’s leadership to cultivate and expand diversity, equity, and inclusion. She also served on the executive committee of the University of Texas’ Center for Mexican American Studies and the Provost’s Council on LGBTQ+AEI.

Victoria is the proud graduate of the University of Arizona, a land-grant institution, and has firsthand experienced the transformative power of education that our public institutions of higher learning provide. 

Victoria is a native of Southern Arizona and is a diehard Arizona Wildcats basketball fan which has not precluded her from falling in love with the Razorbacks. She is of Italian-Jewish-Mexican heritage and is excited to call the Natural State home together with her husband Neftali Garcia and their children. 

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