Hestekin named acting associate dean; Gamboa promoted to vice-dean



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Christa Hestekin, left, and Patricia Gamboa

The Doctoral School and International Education has appointed an interim Associate Dean and an Assistant Dean to its management team.

Christa Hestekin, associate professor in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering and associate head of the department’s graduate program, has been named the graduate school’s acting associate dean, effective August 22. She replaces Jim Gigantino, who was named interim vice provost for academic affairs earlier this month.

Additionally, Patricia Gamboa, previously Director of Graduate and International Recruitment and Admissions at the Graduate School and International Education, has been promoted to Associate Dean of the Graduate School.

“I am thrilled to add these two wonderful colleagues to our Graduate School and International Education leadership team,” said Curt Rom, Acting Dean of Graduate School and International Education. “They bring strong skills and experience to our team at a crucial time for GSIE. I look forward to working with them as we get underway this fall to serve our campus.”

Hestekin and Gamboa join the school’s other administrators, including Rom; Fran Hagstrom, Associate Dean for International Education; and Melissa Erwin, who was promoted to assistant dean for finance and administration in February.

Christa Hestekin

Hestekin, who also holds the Ansel and Virginia Condray Chair in Chemical Engineering, has taught at the university since 2006, starting as an assistant professor before her promotion to associate professor in 2013. She also served as acting department head in 2021 and graduate studies coordinator for the department before becoming associate director of the graduate program in 2018.

In his new role, Hestekin will oversee the Graduate and International Admissions offices; Graduate scholarships, enrollment and services for graduates; testing services; and interdisciplinary graduate programs. She will also work to develop and promote higher education on campus, advocate for graduate students and support graduate student success initiatives, and monitor compliance with graduate and university policies, among other duties.

“As a faculty member of an active research group, I appreciate the value that graduate students bring to our university,” Hestekin said. “I’m thrilled to be able to give back to the graduate community through this role.”

“In addition to his strong academic background, Dr. Hestekin has experience working with and supporting graduate students in his roles at the College of Engineering,” Rom said. “She brings an invaluable perspective to our school and is a rising star in college. I’m thrilled to see her continue the great work of Dean Gigantino.”

His research interests focus on the areas of electrical separations for applications in medicine, agriculture and environmental science. Specific research projects include understanding amyloid aggregation, producing biofuels from algae, producing new biobatteries and developing an artificial kidney. Additionally, Hestekin served as Vice President and President of the AES Electrophoresis Society.

Hestekin received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky in chemical engineering and his doctorate. from Northwestern University in Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Patricia Gamboa

In her new role, Gamboa is responsible for leading a strategic enrollment growth plan for graduate and international education, in addition to overseeing recruitment and other administrative functions supporting graduate students. She reports to Rom.

“We are pleased to promote Ms. Gamboa as we launch certain strategic initiatives, particularly strategic recruiting, marketing and enrollment growth,” Rom said. “She brought a strategic mindset to her role as head of recruitment and admissions, helping to revise our policies and procedures which led to increased enrollment growth and more student-friendly processes. I look forward to working with her in her new role.”

Gamboa has been a director with GSIE since 2020, where she led efforts to achieve record graduate enrollment in 2020 and 2021 and strategically improved admissions and recruitment processes during the COVID-19 pandemic, when institutions have been forced to rethink how they recruit and admit. Gamboa and his team proactively implemented a holistic graduate student review, updated policies, and transformed recruitment strategies.

She served on or chaired numerous committees during her time at the university, including the Provost’s Office Enrollment Advisory Committee, the Hoyt Purvis Award Selection Committee, the Collis R. Geren Award Planning Committee, and the Faculty Senate English as a Second Language Committee. She was also a member of the second cohort of the UARK Leaders program.

“I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity and consider myself fortunate to promote higher and international education while advancing the university’s mission,” Gamboa said. “I look forward to cultivating student and scholar success, serving as an advocate, strengthening high-calibre graduate programs, and facilitating enrollment of graduate and international students.”

Prior to joining the U of A, Gamboa worked at the University of Texas at Austin, where she managed global partnerships with sponsorship agencies. She designed educational programs that fostered cultural exchange and facilitated the placement of Fulbright Foreign Student Program scholars at UT.

Gamboa holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Mexico and a master’s degree in higher education from the U of A.

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