President Lynnette Zelezny announced on May 1 that Vernon B. Harper has been elected as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for CSU Bakersfield, effective immediately.
Harper has served as interim provost since January 2019 after his predecessor Jenny Zorn retired. He was one of several applicants in pursuit of the position. The provost operates as the university’s chief academic officer and serves as its leader in the president’s absence.
“Dr. Harper’s leadership will advance academic distinction, student success and community impact,” Zelezny said.
The Executive Committee of the Academic Senate lead the selection process which ultimately chose Harper for the position.
When Harper was first appointed as interim provost in 2019, Zelezny said he was very well received by the faculty.
“I am so honored to be asked by President Zelezny to serve in this important role. Equally, I look forward to working with the students, faculty and staff to enhance this marvelous community and institution,” Harper said.
Harper joined CSUB in 2016 as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Academic Affairs. Prior to his career at CSUB, he served as the Associate Provost at Wilkes University of Pennsylvania, and Associate Vice President at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.
During Harper’s time at CSUB, he has been involved in many different ventures in an effort to better CSUB. The most recent of these endeavors involved a partnership with Bakersfield College to ease the difficulty of transition between institutions and raise overall graduation rates.
When Harper was elected interim provost in January 2019, he made note of his intentions of the position. Harper stated in 2019 that he intends for the office of the provost to “reorganize the priorities of student success, academic integrity and excellence.”
A statement by the CSUB Public Affairs office stated that Harper’s “rich experience in the academy will bring stable continuity as we move forward in our collective mission to serve our deserving students.”
Harper’s educational background includes a B.A from Penn State, an M.A from Wilkes University, and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Howard University. Harper has also served in the US Army Reserves, and has been awarded a U.S Army Achievement Medal.
Harper’s wife, Erika Harper, also works at CSUB as a professor in the psychology department.