University of Arkansas System President Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt will recommend Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto, Ph.D., assistant dean for civic engagement at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), as the next dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
The choice, which follows a national search that brought three finalists to Little Rock earlier this summer after the retirement of longtime Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III, will be recommended for approval at the Sept. 16-17 meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the search process was executed, evidenced first by the high quality of diverse candidates that showed interest in the position and furthered by the stellar group of finalists that visited the campus,” Bobbitt said. “I’m very grateful to the search committee for their work and to the finalists for their interest in the position. In the end, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto was the right fit to continue growing and developing the unique school’s academic programs, as well as its continued community outreach and mission to make an impact in Arkansas and around the world.”
DeFrancesco Soto is expected to begin her new role as dean on Jan. 3, 2022. Susan Hoffpauir, Ph.D., professor and academic dean at the Clinton School, has been serving as interim dean.
“I am grateful to Dr. Bobbitt and the search committee for their diligent work in this process, and I’m excited to get to Little Rock to begin work with the wonderful students, faculty and staff at the Clinton School,” DeFrancesco Soto said. “At this moment in our country and world, public service is vital to creating a space for people to engage with one another and find common ground. There is so much that the Clinton School and its students and faculty have already accomplished in its short history, and I look forward to building even more capacity for the school to strive toward President Clinton’s vision of a graduate program that builds bridges through public service.”
DeFrancesco Soto currently serves as assistant dean for civic engagement and a senior lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the UT. She is also a faculty fellow at the Center for the Science of Race and Democracy and an affiliate at the Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies at UT.
Her research and teaching focus on an interdisciplinary approach to American politics and policy including her areas of expertise in immigration, women and politics, political psychology, and campaigns and elections. She is a contributor to MSNBC, Telemundo and NBCNews.com. She has also provided on-air analysis for PBS, CNN, Fox, Univision and NPR, as well as contributions to other national publications.
DeFrancesco Soto earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and Latin American studies at the University of Arizona and master’s and doctorate degrees in political science at Duke University. A more-detailed bio and history can be found here.
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