UCSD’s associate vice chancellor for Extended Studies and Public Programs and professor of sociology Mary Lindenstein Walshok has long been noted around campus for her many extracurricular activities. She’s on the board of La Jolla financier Buzz Woolley’s Girard Foundation, where records show she has been paid $5000 a year. Walshok’s other nonprofit board memberships have included the Watchdog Institute (now called Investigative Newsource), the group formed by ex–Union-Tribune editor Lorie Hearn, and San Diego CONNECT, a business and high-tech advocacy group in La Jolla. A native of Palm Springs, Walshok has also proved to be a prolific world traveler, especially to emerging industrial giants as well as to her ancestral home of Sweden, where she has been a visiting professor at the Stockholm School of Economics and was awarded Sweden’s Royal Order of the Polar Star.
Now, according to a report in Oman-based Business Today, Walshok has joined the nine-member international advisory board of the Research Council of the Sultanate of Oman, a small but wealthy country on the Arabian Sea. According its page on Facebook, the council is “the exclusive research funding body and leader of research development in the country.” It adds, “Our mission is to create an innovation ecology that is responsive to local needs and international trends, fosters social harmony, and leads to creativity and excellence.” According to an October dispatch from Iran’s official news agency, officials of the research council recently met with Iranian officials and “exchanged views on boosting research cooperation between Iran and Oman, in addition to the programs and mechanisms that are already in place.”
Interviewed last week, Walshok said politics played no role in her work in Oman. “I was sort of surprised at how open they were,” she said. “[They have] a desire to be one of the more open, inclusive, and forward-looking countries of the Middle East.” Walshok added that she was recommended for her advisory role by a Swedish colleague familiar with her work studying the “social dynamics and cultural values” of San Diego’s high-tech development efforts, which she regards as an international model. In addition to her Oman presence, Walshok said, she is now also currently advising the city of Belfast, in Northern Ireland, regarding the city’s new Titanic Quarter, a redevelopment effort on the site of the shipyard where the doomed ocean liner was built.