But many said they had been impressed even during their initial contacts with Wilkening, praising her openness, accessibility, intelligence and an obvious desire to listen to the concerns of those at all levels of the university.
"She is a very open and available person who listens to whoever wants to talk to her," said Dr. Frank Meyskens, director of the clinical cancer center. "She's a very good communicator and is quite open about wanting to know what's going on."
But in meetings on difficult issues, said Fallon, who chairs the faculty of the medical school, she can also be tough. At such times, Wilkening is "a give-me-the-numbers, cut the B.S. kind of person, who has no trouble getting to the essentials," Fallon said. "And that creates a very positive impression of her as a leader."
Student leaders, too, were positive. David Kesselman, president of undergraduate student government at UCI, said that while the real tests are clearly to come, Wilkening so far appears to be taking student concerns seriously.
John F. Ronan, editor of the New University, the campus newspaper, described the change in management style with Wilkening's arrival as "both drastic and for the better. She's just a really firm believer in an open, deliberative process," he said.
In the year before Wilkening's arrival, Ronan said, he had filed about 30 requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act in order to obtain documents from the university administration. Since then, he has needed to file only about seven such requests.
"We have more access to documents now, more access to how decisions are being made," Ronan said. "There's a real wind of change blowing through that administration building."