Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter

Ralph J. Hexter

Ralph Hexter arrived at UC Davis on January 1, 2011, to become provost & executive vice chancellor. He also holds an appointment as distinguished professor of classics and comparative literature.

As provost and executive vice chancellor, he serves as the number two person in the UC Davis administration, reporting directly to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and representing the chancellor in her absence. He is the campus' chief academic officer and, in that post, oversees the work of the deans and serves as the chancellor's principal liaison to the Academic Senate. Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor Hexter is responsible for guiding the development of academic priorities and strategies; working with the deans to recruit and retain a diverse and talented faculty; and in coordination with the chancellor, leading the university's strategic planning process, allocating resources to advance strategic priorities, and, with his fellow vice chancellors, managing the daily operation of the campus.

At UC Davis, he is playing a central role in:

  • Fostering student success and ensuring the accessibility and affordability of a UC Davis education;
  • Improving graduate student support and increasing program options;
  • Enabling faculty to do their best work, in their research and in the classroom;
  • Promoting diversity in recruitment of students and hiring of faculty and staff, and supporting the university’s Principles of Community, which define the campus as a respectful and inclusive community for individuals regardless of background;
  • Evolving the budget model to better provide sufficient and stable funding for the university’s mission of excellence in teaching, research, and public service; and
  • Planning and implementing the 2020 Initiative, which will eventually grow the university’s student body by about 5,000 students, most of them international students, and add a commensurate number of faculty.

Hexter received his A.B. degree in English literature from Harvard College in 1974. He earned a B.A. and M.A. in classics and modern languages at Oxford's Corpus Christi College in 1977 and 1982, respectively. He also earned an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale University in 1979 and 1982, where he taught in the classics department from 1981 to 1991. During his final year there, he served as acting associate dean of the Graduate School.

In 1991, he moved as professor of classics and comparative literature to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he directed the graduate program in comparative literature.

In 1995, he joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley also as professor of classics and comparative literature, advancing to posts as chair of Comparative Literature, dean of Arts and Humanities and executive dean of the College of Letters and Science, the last two concurrently. At Berkeley, Hexter successfully recruited and retained faculty under intense competition from other universities, and he was active in securing philanthropic support for UC Berkeley from individuals and foundations.

From 2005 to 2010, Hexter served as president of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, a selective liberal arts college with 1,500 students known for its innovative student-centered pedagogy and curriculum. Shortly after he arrived at Hampshire, he launched a comprehensive re-envisioning exercise to focus the college on its future as it neared its 40th anniversary, celebrated in 2010. In addition, he added to his president's cabinet a special assistant for diversity and multicultural education; completed fundraising for what became the college's first building to receive LEED gold environmental certification; and, through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, laid the groundwork for a deeper integration of the study of languages other than English into the college's courses and individual student and faculty projects.

In all of his leadership positions, Provost Hexter has made it a priority to foster excellence across the full range of disciplines, and to promote equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion for students, faculty, and staff. A recipient of the University of Massachusetts' Continuing the Legacy of Stonewall Award (2008), he was a founding member of the LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education.

Throughout his career, Hexter has continued to teach, lecture, and publish on the interpretation and meaning of classical Greek and Roman literature from antiquity through the Middle Ages to modern times. His most recent work includes a historical survey of Ovid's exile poetry in Rezeption der antiken Literatur: Kulturhistorisches Werklexikon, Der Neue Paully, Supplemente, vol. 7, ed. Christine Walde (2010); an account of the pseudo-Ovidiana in Ovid in the Middle Ages, edited by James G. Clark, Frank T. Coulson, and Kathryn L. McKinley (2011); and The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature, co-edited with David Townsend (2012).