About Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter

Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter

Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter

Hexter's quick facts

Here is more information about Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter.

At UC Davis, he holds an appointment as distinguished professor of classics and comparative literature. The interim chancellor’s research focus is on the interpretation and meaning of classical Greek and Roman literature from antiquity through the Middle Ages to modern times. 

Previous employment

  • Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts: President, Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature (2005-2010).
  • University of California, Berkeley: Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature (1995-2005); Chair of Comparative Literature (1996-1998); Dean of Arts and Humanities (1998-2005); Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Sciences (2002-2005).
  • University of Colorado, Boulder: Director of the graduate program in Comparative Literature and Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature (1991-1995).
  • Yale University: Acting Instructor Convertible in Classics (1981-1982); Assistant Professor of Classics (1982-1986); Associate Professor of Classics (1986-1991); Acting Associate Dean of the Graduate School (1990-1991).


  • Harvard College: A.B. magna cum laude, English and American languages and literatures, 1974.
  • Corpus Christi College, Oxford University: B.A. and M.A. in classics and modern languages, 1977 and 1982, respectively.
  • Yale University: M.Phil and Ph.D. in comparative literature, 1979 and 1982, respectively

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. On April 27, 2016, President Janet Napolitano notified Hexter that he would serve as the Acting Chancellor. On September 14, 2016, he was named Interim Chancellor by the UC Regents.

As Interim Chancellor, he oversees all aspects of the university’s teaching, research and public service mission, including the UC Davis Health System and its acute-care teaching hospital in Sacramento, one of the nation’s leading medical schools, a new school of nursing and a multi-specialty physician group that serves 33 counties and six million residents.

Interim Chancellor Hexter received his A.B. degree in English literature from Harvard College in 1974 (Phi Beta Kappa, inducted in 1972). He earned a B.A. and M.A. in classics and modern languages at Oxford University 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 (1996–98), dean of Humanities (1998–99), dean of Arts and Humanities (1999–2005), and executive dean of the College of Letters and Science (2002–05).

From 2005 through 2010, he 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.

In all of his leadership positions, Interim Chancellor 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. From 2012 to 2014, he co-chaired with Barbara J. French the UC Task Force and Implementation Team on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Climate & Inclusion, which was charged with making recommendations to create more-welcoming and -inclusive campus environments for members of the LGBT community.

In 2016, Interim Chancellor Hexter was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Throughout his career, Interim Chancellor 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. He previously co-taught a graduate seminar in Comparative Literature on the reception of Vergil's Aeneid; in 2016-17 he taught a first-year seminar on Vergil's Aeneid and co-taught an upper-division course on Ovid's elegiac poetry. 

Recent publications include a survey of Ovid's exile poetry in Rezeption der antiken Literatur: Kulturhistorisches Werklexikon, Der Neue Paully, Supplemente, vol. 7, edited by 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); The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature, co-edited with David Townsend (2012); and an essay on the impact, in both the Renaissance and the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, of attitudes towards homosexuality on the history of scholarship on the Roman poet Catullus in Ancient Rome & the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities, edited by Jennifer Ingleheart (2015).

About UC Davis

The University of California, Davis is one of 10 campuses and one of a select group of 62 North American universities admitted to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities.

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 35,000 students, 4,000 faculty, 22,000 staff, an annual budget of $4 billion that includes nearly $750 million in research, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers more than 70 interdisciplinary graduate programs and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.