Tuesday, April 9, 2002
Michael Reese (510) 987-9200

France A. Córdova Named UC Riverside Chancellor

France A. Córdova, a nationally recognized astrophysicist who currently serves as vice chancellor for research at UC Santa Barbara, today (April 9) was named chancellor of the University of California's Riverside campus.

Acting on the recommendation of President Richard C. Atkinson, the UC Board of Regents appointed Córdova the seventh chancellor of UC Riverside during a special meeting conducted by telephone conference call. Córdova, whose appointment is effective July 1, succeeds Raymond L. Orbach as chancellor.

Córdova, 54, served as chief scientist at NASA before coming to UC Santa Barbara in 1996. She previously headed the department of astronomy and astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University and served as deputy group leader of the Space Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"France Córdova brings outstanding academic credentials, solid leadership experience, a commitment to educational opportunity, and a talent for working cooperatively with both the campus community and the broader community," Atkinson said. "Her enthusiasm, intelligence, charisma and record of achievement will make her a superb chancellor for UC Riverside."

John J. Moores, chairman of the Board of Regents, called Córdova "an excellent selection. Her qualifications speak for themselves. She is a highly accomplished, national-caliber scientist and leader who clearly possesses the experience and skills to be a very effective chancellor. I could not be more pleased with the search process, the caliber of the candidates and the outcome."

Córdova emerged as Atkinson's top choice for the position after a national search that produced more than 200 candidates. The president was advised by a committee representing regents; faculty, students, staff, and alumni of UCR; and the UC Riverside Foundation.

"I am deeply honored by this appointment, and I look forward to joining the Riverside community," Córdova said. "Riverside is a beautiful city, and UC Riverside is a vibrant institution with a demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching, research and public service. I eagerly anticipate working with the faculty, students, staff, alumni, neighbors and friends of UCR to build on the progress and distinguished achievements they have made."

Córdova serves as professor of physics and vice chancellor for research at UC Santa Barbara. As vice chancellor, in addition to her regular duties, she initiated a program to encourage and fund research across disciplines. She also spearheaded a campus-wide effort to increase opportunities for students to engage in research, establishing panels of faculty and students, visiting dormitories, speaking at student orientations, developing a research Web site, and allocating funding to encourage undergraduate research, among other things.

The scientific contributions of Córdova's career have been in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on X-ray and gamma ray sources, and space-borne instrumentation. She has published more than 130 scientific papers.

From 1993 to 1996, she was chief scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, serving as the primary scientific advisor to the NASA administrator and the principal interface between NASA headquarters and the broader scientific community. Prior to that she held positions at Pennsylvania State University from 1989 to 1993 and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1979 to 1989.

Córdova is the winner of NASA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal. This year, the National Research Council named her a National Associate of the National Academies in recognition of extraordinary service.

Córdova was named one of the "100 Most Influential Hispanics" by Hispanic Business magazine in 1997 and again this year has been named one of "80 Elite Hispanic Women" by the magazine. She also received the Hispanic Achievement Award in Science and Technology from Hispanic magazine in 1997.

The oldest of 12 children, Córdova attended high school in La Puente, Calif., east of Los Angeles. She then entered Stanford University, where she graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in English and, among other activities, conducted anthropology field work in a Zapotec Indian pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico. She attained a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1979.

Córdova is married to Christian J. Foster, a science educator, and has two children - Anne-Catherine, 15, and Stephen, 14.

UC Riverside, a center of research and learning in the rapidly growing Inland Empire region of southern California, is also the fastest-growing campus in the UC system. In fall 2001, UCR enrolled 14,429 students - 10 percent more than the year before - and employed 6,143 faculty and staff. The 1,200-acre campus has an annual budget of more than $312 million.

In each of the last seven years, among all institutions in the country, UC Riverside has had either the largest or second-largest number of faculty members named as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A total of 69 UCR faculty members have now been elected to AAAS fellowship.

UC Riverside began in 1907 as a citrus experiment station, conducting research benefiting California agriculture. A College of Letters and Science began offering classes in 1954, and UCR was named a general campus of the University of California in 1959.

Orbach, who had served as chancellor of UC Riverside since 1992, resigned earlier this year to become director of the Office of Science in the U.S. Department of Energy.

Córdova will be paid $265,200 per year, the same salary Orbach earned as chancellor.

Córdova's current web site is In addition, a video interview with Córdova currently appears on the web site of Hispanic Business Magazine at

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