Dr. Jennifer Merlic was appointed Vice President of Academic Affairs in September 2018. As Chief Instructional Officer, Dr. Merlic provides leadership and oversight for Santa Monica College’s instructional programs and services. Her portfolio encompasses online and traditional “on-ground” academic programs, degrees, and certificates (both transfer and career education); noncredit instruction including the Emeritus Program for older adults; and not-for-college-credit professional development, personal enrichment, and workforce training offerings through the SMC Office of Workforce & Economic Development. She also oversees academic support services such as the college library, tutoring, and computer labs.
Dr. Merlic first began working at SMC as a full-time chemistry professor in 1991. In subsequent years, she progressed to leadership roles as Director of Academic Computing, Director of Tech Training & Research, Chair of the SMC Physical Science department, and Chair of the Academic Senate Department Chairs Committee. In 2014, she was appointed Dean of Instructional Services, overseeing 23 instructional departments and their chairs (with over 1,100 full-time and part-time faculty reporting). Her responsibilities included developing SMC’s annual academic plan of more than 7,500 classes (15 percent of which are delivered online).
While she was Dean of Instructional Services, Dr. Merlic authored the proposal for SMC’s Bachelor of Science degree in Interaction Design. In January 2015, SMC was selected by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to be among the first 15 community colleges in the state to offer a four-year degree. Dr. Merlic provided administrative leadership in the implementation of the degree program; the first cohort graduated in June 2018.
Dr. Merlic’s achievements in previous leadership roles included helping create SMC’s STEM Science and Research Initiative—in partnership with UCLA—supported by a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students transferring to four-year STEM programs. She also helped develop a streamlined, online “program review” process for the college’s departments and operational areas; served as the project co-director for the statewide Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT); and directed the “Virtual Office Hours” project, which was SMC’s first online supplement to traditional office hours. Dr. Merlic also supervised the development and implementation of online and live training as training director for the California Virtual Campus Professional Development Center, a partnership between El Camino College and SMC, funded by a $2.4 million state grant.
As a professor, Dr. Merlic taught general chemistry and introductory chemistry courses, in addition to developing and updating chemistry curriculum from 1991 to 2014. She was previously also a visiting professor of chemistry at UCLA. She has co-authored articles in several leading scientific journals, covering a variety of topics related to laser spectroscopy – the use of lasers to study the structure and behavior of molecules.
Dr. Merlic holds a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science in Physical Chemistry from Princeton University; she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Smith College (she graduated Cum Laude with High Honors in Chemistry). An avid hiker and animal lover, Dr. Merlic and her husband Craig A. Merlic—who is a Professor of Chemistry at UCLA— have two sons, Kyle and Aidan.
E-mail: merlic_jennifer @smc.edu