Graduate Division

UCI's Dr. Rodrigo Lazo and Jaymi Smith Join Graduate Division as Associate Deans

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UCI's Dr. Rodrigo Lazo and Jaymi Smith Join Graduate Division as Associate Deans

Irvine, Calif. – Graduate Division Dean Gillian Hayes has added two excellent members to the UCI Graduate Division staff, as Rodrigo Lazo joins the division as its new associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, while Jaymi Smith will serve as the new associate dean for student success. The announcement was made on Monday and both will serve in their new positions immediately.


Lazo comes to Graduate Division with 17 years of experience at UCI, serving as a professor in the English Department, and was the associate dean of the unit from 2010-2017. Smith has been with the Anteaters for 13 years after joining the Drama Department in 2007 and serving as the head of design, associate head of design, and the interim head of scenic design.


“I’m so pleased to welcome such fantastic academic leaders to Graduate Division,” said Dean Hayes. “Our graduate students and post-docs are at the heart of this university and I’m so excited to be able to provide them with two more advocates who will listen and fight for them.”


At the university level, Smith has acted as an equity advisor for the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, was part of the 2017 Provost Leadership Academy, and was a member of the Graduate Council from 2015-20. In her Graduate Council role, she was part of the Subcommittee for Courses and Program Modifications and helped draft policies such as Academic Grievance Procedures, Mentoring Guidelines, and Guidelines for SSGPDPs. She also recently served as a member of the Hellman Advisory Panel.


“I could not be more thrilled to join Dean Hayes’ team at Graduate Division,” Smith said. “I’m here for our students and I want them to reach out to me. I want to make sure our students succeed in and outside of the academic environment.”


Prior to joining UCI, Smith was a freelance lighting designer, production manager, and producer.  Her design work has been featured in theaters such as Oregon Shakespeare Festival, LaJolla Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, The Alley Theater, Hartford Stage, Steppenwolf, The Goodman, and The Denver Center as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain and China. She has designed over 250 productions over the past twenty years and has received awards and nominations from The Ovations, The Joseph Jefferson Committee, The Column Awards, Sage Awards, the Off-Broadway Alliance, Henry Awards, and the Houston Theater Awards.  She was the 2003 recipient of the Michael Merritt Emerging Designer Award.


Before Lazo’s appointment at Graduate Division, he served four years as associate dean of Humanities. From 2016-2019, Lazo directed the Humanities Core Program, a year-long introduction to the humanities for first-year undergraduate students.


“There’s nothing I love more than serving our students,” Lazo said. “I’m looking forward to supporting our Black Thriving at UCI and making sure all of our students are set up for success.”


After more than 15 years as a professor, Lazo finds the most rewarding part of academia is interacting with students and helping them with their research and writing. In 2012, he received an award from the UCI Associated Graduate Students for his contributions as a mentor.

Prior to coming to UCI in 2004, Lazo taught at Miami University. He attended Columbia University’s School of Journalism and worked as a reporter at the Miami Herald.


For more information on UCI’s graduate programs, please visit