Fall brings change in deans

By Javier Valdes



As CSU Bakersfield bid farewell to the speedy, stressful quarter system this past spring, it also said goodbye to the deans of all four of CSUB’s schools.

Now CSUB welcomes an all new batch of interim deans to serve each school as CSUB continues their search to fill the dean positions.

At the end of last spring quarter CSUB Provost Jenny Zorn announced the new interim deans for each school: Interim Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities Liora Gubkin, Interim Dean of the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering Kathleen Madden, Interim Dean of the School of Business and Public Administration John Stark, Interim Dean of the School of Social Science and Education Steve Bacon and Interim Dean of Antelope Valley Center Randy Schultz.

Richard Collins, who served as dean of arts and humanities, and Anne Houtman, who served as dean of natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, both departed CSUB last spring quarter after they accepted positions at other institutions.

At the start of the winter quarter Kathleen Knutzen, who served as dean of social sciences and education, and Garo Kalfayan, who served as dean of business and public administration, both announced that they would be retiring at the end of the 2015-16 academic year.

The search for each of the interim deans commenced as soon as Provost Jenny Zorn was made aware that the deans would not be returning for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Although the search for five new deans is not an easy task, Zorn was ready for that challenge.

“It’s…an exciting time because you will get new and different ideas of how a dean operates, and new people in those positions will bring resurgence, energy and excitement,” said Zorn last spring quarter. “I think change is always an exciting thing on campus, and that’s what we’re going to build on.”

The formal search for the deans of each school will not occur at the same time and has instead been divided into two said Vice Provost David Schecter.

Schecter noted that the national search for deans of SSE and BPA formally started in the spring, where a search committee was put together to find the next two school deans. The chosen candidates are expected to visit the campus this upcoming October and November where they will take part in meeting faculty and staff, as well as participating in open forums.

CSUB Provost Jenny Zorn alongside CSUB President Horace Mitchell will make the final decision by the time the spring semester begins in January said Schecter.

The search committee for deans of NSME and A&H will begin later this month and are expected to be filled by fall 2017 said Schecter.

As of now, CSUB is a unique position where all four of the current school deans, as well as the AV campus dean are all interim.

CSUB’s current school interim deans have all served as associated deans prior to their new position, so they all came into the position with the experience needed to take on the job said Schecter.

“It’s really exciting because many of them have CSUB experience already, so they know what the campus is going through, particularly with quarter to semesters so we have really strong experienced interim deans,” said Schecter.



Meet the interim deans

John Stark 

Business and Public Administration

Photo courtesy of John Stark
Photo courtesy of John Stark

What goals do you have for developing the School of Business and Public Administration during your time as Interim Dean?


We have a number of initiatives underway for this next year.  Among these are:

  • Continuing to “flesh out” our Student Professional Development program, which focuses on improving our students “soft” skills for the workplace.
  • Program improvements in each of our major curriculum areas – business, economics, and public administration.
  • Enhancing student life with improvements in our student organizations, refreshing the student gathering/study areas in our main faculty office building, and supporting student learning.
  • Improving our connections to the local community colleges in order to facilitate transfers to our School (currently, more than have the BPA graduates came to our school as transfer students).
  • Improving our Community relationships by refreshing our advisory boards, embedding faculty and staff in community-based groups (e.g., Rotary, Chambers of Commerce, etc.); and
  • Enhancing our non-state revenue to support School efforts.


What do you have to offer the School of Business and Public Administration?

As an administrator, I am bringing a number of things to the table.  First, I have sixteen years of experience here on the CSUB campus, so I understand how things work here, I already have relationships developed with campus and community members, and I have a proven commitment to the mission of our campus and the School.

Next, I am a teacher at heart (and I continue to teach in graduate programs), so I am focused on the things that support good instruction and that enhance the student experience.  Also, I am an experience administrator, with experience in the business world, in government, and in education.  I have served as a department chair (Management & Marketing), as Associate Dean, and I was actually the Chair of the Academic Senate.


What are you looking forward to the most this fall semester?


Anytime that you get to start something new, there is excitement and an opportunity for a fresh start, so I am looking forward to the beginning of semesters here at CSUB.  In general, I am always glad to get faculty and students back on campus, as they are the lifeblood of what we do, so fall is always a great time for me.  But, the new semester format will be the thing that stands out for me, as I look back on the fall of 2016.


Liora Gubkin 

Arts and Humanities

Photo courtesy of Liora Gubkin
Photo courtesy of Liora Gubkin


What goals do you have for developing the School of Arts and Humanities during your time as Interim Dean?

This is an exciting year to serve as Interim Dean, and I have several goals – too many to list here. A sampling of what we will accomplish: 1) prepare for new Dean search by highlighting the many strengths of our students, faculty, staff, and our “majors that matter; 2) establish a mentor program for our incoming tenure-track faculty; 3) support the work of faculty and staff involved in a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop Ethnic Studies opportunities for students, including a new general education course ‘Ethnicity and Culture’ and public programs that celebrate diversity in the valley.

In addition, we will be doing some longer-range future planning along with the other schools in the areas of student success, faculty hires, and facility needs.


What do you have to offer the School of Arts and Humanities? 

This is my 13th year at CSUB, and I bring to this new role a passion for the mission of our university and a commitment to placing the liberal arts at the center of what we do to serve students and build-up our community. My academic training is in the field of religious studies, and I am especially attuned to the power of the stories we tell to shape the world around us and how these stories can set forth a compelling vision to move us closer to a more just and compassionate world.

In my research and teaching, I highlight voices whose stories are not as often heard and I attend to complexities of our experiences. I believe this training will serve our school well.


What are you looking forward to the most this fall semester?

Fall always holds the excitement of possibility – a new cohort of students, faculty returning refreshed, renewed, and ready to engage students on a journey of discovery. Obviously, this year is characterized by change – new multicultural resource center in Rohan; new calendar with the change from quarter to semester; new general education curriculum; new faculty with nine new tenure-track professors in Arts and Humanities enriching the campus with their teaching and research expertise.

In the midst of change, I affirm words attributed to Alan Watts, author of Way of Zen, The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. This fall I look forward to a world full of possibility and embrace the change with both Zen and dance.


Steve Bacon

Social Sciences and Education

Photo by Chris Mateo/The Runner
Photo by Chris Mateo/The Runner

What goals do you have for developing the School of Social Science and Education during your time as Interim Dean?

My interim dean term is only one semester long and most interims set fairly modest goals knowing their successor, the new dean, will likely set a more ambitious set of goals after a process of visioning with the school. Because I have been with the School so long and have served as associate dean for a very successful dean, however, I have a pretty good handle on the short-term needs of the School, which include a mix of continuity and change.

With the help of a great staff and faculty in the School, I hope to serve our students by accomplishing the following goals: 1) maintain high moral and good communication among School staff and faculty, despite the challenges we have faced and will face in fall; 2) continue to look for ways to increase the number of students graduating from CSUB and decrease the time it takes them to graduate; 3) continue to improve advising for students; 4) begin to build the infrastructure needed for our brand new independent Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership; 5) continue to find external support for the School and opportunities for our students through grant-funded activities, especially in the social sciences; and 6) continue to build partnerships with various groups in our community that lead to opportunities for our students, especially through the development of a Quality of Life Center at CSUB.


What do you have to offer the School of Social Science and Education?

I started with the School in 1994 as a lecturer, then moved through the faculty ranks as an assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, and chair of the Department of Psychology for six years. For the last three years, I have served under a very successful dean as the Associate Dean for the School of Social Sciences and Education.

My years with the School have given me the knowledge of how our School and CSUB work, the management experience to run a successful school, the respect for the hard work of my faculty and staff colleagues, and the passion for seeing our students succeed. All of these things will help us get through this interim period and on to the next bright chapter for the School.


What are you looking forward to the most this fall semester?

This fall I am looking forward to the same thing I look forward to every fall: the opportunity to help students transform their lives through experiences at CSUB which will help them transform the communities to which they will return after graduation.


Kathleen Madden

Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Madden
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Madden

What goals do you have for developing the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering during your time as Interim Dean?

The school will be busy this upcoming year ensuring that the transition from quarters to semesters goes smoothly, and we will begin the process of ABET accreditation for our new engineering programs.

Through our many ongoing programs and initiatives – such as the Fab Lab, the California Energy Research Center, the family nurse practitioner MSN, and a proposed botanical garden – we will be working to offer exciting learning opportunities for students and to contribute to the greater good of the local community.


What do you have to offer the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering? 

I have over twenty years experience as a mathematics faculty member and eight years experience in academic administration as a department chair and associate dean.  And I’m passionate about the school’s mission to offer a high quality education in science, mathematics, engineering, and nursing to the residents of the Central Valley.


What are you looking forward to the most this fall semester?

I am looking forward to working closely with the NSME faculty and staff.  It’s a great group, all of whom are dedicated to the educational success of CSUB students.


Randy Schultz

Antelope Valley

The Runner Archives
The Runner Archives


What goals do you have for developing the Antelope Valley campus during your time as Interim Dean?

My biggest goal is to get our name out into the community. CSUB-AV has been offering classes in the Antelope Valley since 1991, and there are still large parts of the Antelope Valley community that do not know that we are here and what we offer. Secondly, I’d like the CSUB main campus community to know more about what we do out in AV.

We have great support from the programs on main campus that are out in AV, but we are always open to adding additional degree  programs. The students in the Antelope Valley really appreciate what we offer – I’d like to be able to offer them more.


What do you have to offer the Antelope Valley Center?

My enthusiasm for the campus. I started with CSUB in 2006 as an assistant professor at the Antelope Valley campus. I have great respect for all who work there and those who travel from the main campus (either by car or ITV) to support our students. I strongly believe in the power of education to change a community for the better and know that what we do at the AV campus has a direct and positive result on the whole Antelope Valley area.

One of my roles is to be the cheerleader for the AV campus – to promote and to help the community become excited about having CSUB in their neighborhood. That’s where my enthusiasm for what we do in AV is important.


What are you looking forward to the most this fall semester?

I’m looking forward to seeing our students at graduation next spring – to me that is why we are here, to help students reach their dreams and to send them out in the world as productive and knowledgeable citizens.

I look forward to the hustle and bustle of the new year. Our campus is pretty quiet during the summer, so I’m looking forward to having students in the halls and classrooms again. And I’m looking forward to the successful transition from quarters to semesters. Everyone on both campuses has worked so hard on this transition, and it’s finally going to happen.