New Associate VP supports student success at CSUB

By Carla Chacon 



In April, Vernon Harper joined CSU Bakersfield as the university’s associate vice president for the Office of Academic Programs.

With hands rested softly on the round, wooden table located near the window of his office, and a warm, friendly smile, Harper said it was California’s unique diversity that enticed him to relocate across the vast distance between the East Coast and West Coast.

“Diversity. The diversity is incredibly powerful….it is one of the reasons we decided to move back to California,” he said.

Harper’s journey to California began after he earned his Ph.D. in human communication studies at Howard University in 1999. After graduation, his field of study led him to California.

“My first position was at Cal State San Bernardino,” said Harper.

Etelvina Castillo/ The Runner Vernon Harper, associate VP for academic programs.
Etelvina Castillo/ The Runner
Vernon Harper, associate VP for academic programs.

At CSUSB, Harper served as an assistant professor for four years. In 2003, he moved back to the East Coast where he joined the faculty of Christopher Newport University in Virginia as an associate professor.

Although Harper moved to the East Coast again, he knew he would one day return to the Golden State.

“My wife and I really fell in love with the state of California, as most people do, and when we relocated back to the East Coast, it was always on our minds to try to set up an arrangement where we could return to California,” he said.

Prior to returning to California, Harper served as associate provost at Wilkes University for three years and then held the position of associate vice president of Academic Administration at West Chester University for four years.

Now as CSUB’s associate vice president for the Office of Academic Programs, some of Harper’s responsibilities include overseeing university academic programs, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, coordinating the General Education and Honors Programs, and communicating with the Chancellor’s Office relating to academic affairs.

As for the goals for this academic year, “One of the things we certainly want to do is to ensure that the general education program is implemented in a fashion that supports and enhances student success,” Harper said. “We also want to make sure that the honors program is supported…and is one of our top programs in this institute.”

When Harper is not in the office, he spends his time doing his favorite thing: parenting.

“Parenting is an all-encompassing endeavor. It consumes most of your available time and of course there are activities in which I enjoy that I do with my kids like traveling, but all of that is under the umbrella of parenting and I see it as the reason why I’m here, to be a parent to my kids,” he said.

Harper added that a fun, family activity is spending time with his kids beside the pool on a hot, Bakersfield day.