Graduate Division

Getting to Know Jaymi Smith

Section 1

Getting to Know Jaymi Smith

Graduate Division welcomed two new excellent members to the staff back in November, as Jaymi Smith joined the division as its new associate dean for student success, while Rodrigo Lazo now serves as the new associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion

The two additions will surely provide a great deal of support for UCI’s graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. UCI Graduate Division decided to catch up with Jaymi Smith and find out some of the things she’d like to accomplish for our graduate students.

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.

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.

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.

UCI GD: What made you decide to come work at UCI in the first place?

Smith: As much as I loved traveling around and designing sets, I was on the road 282 days out of the year, and that takes its toll. When an opportunity came up to come to UCI, it was a pretty easy decision. I find teaching and giving back to be quite rewarding.

UCI GD: What specifically intrigued you about this particular job within Graduate Division?

Smith: I enjoy being a part of the bigger picture and I love fighting for students. This new position is going to allow me to not only listen and learn, but I’ll hopefully be able to find solutions to some of the many issues our graduate students are experiencing.

UCI GD: What are the main differences between a typical graduate student and a typical undergraduate student?

Smith: The graduate student is a different type of student. The stakes are higher for a graduate student. A graduate student often is a returning student, essentially doubling down on what they studied in undergrad. The needs are more complex and there is just so much more on the line for them. Their studies are robust and they have a “feed me more” type of mentality. A graduate student, more often than not, is also at a more complex time in their personal life.

UCI GD: What are some of your hobbies outside of UCI?

Smith: I’m a big reader. I also enjoy hiking and taking road trips. My partner and I really like taking these road trips together. It’s a great way for us to spend time together and it also allows us to keep exploring the world.

UCI GD: What’s one thing you’d like our graduate students to know.

Smith: I’m here for you. I’m truly here for our graduate students. I want to help. I want to get to know you. Please reach out to me.


AD Smith makes herself available to UCI’s graduate students, as she holds regular virtual office hours every week. You can see her upcoming office hours schedule by clicking here You can also contact her by emailing her at