The Provost's Message - August 22, 2017

The Provost's Message

August 22, 2017
Provost Lynn Mahoney

Welcome to Fall 2017!

It was wonderful to see so many of you last week at University Convocation, Fall Faculty Day Welcome Brunch and the Academic Affairs Reception. It was a wonderful way to start the semester. For those who were unable to attend, I thought I’d give you some brief highlights. First, I urge you to read President Covino’s address which eloquently summarized Cal State LA’s values in the face of the national tragedy which took place in Charlottesville shortly before the semester started. President Covino affirmed that Cal State LA stands for “social, economic, and political equity and social justice” and noted that “There is no moral equivalency between those who embrace social justice rooted in inclusion, free speech, and equity, and those who perpetuate a legacy of hate, violence, misogyny, bigotry, antisemitism, hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community, and white supremacy.”

As I noted in my remarks at brunch, it is no surprise that the most recent civil rights struggles are taking place on or near university campuses.  The work of academic scholars in many fields has played key parts in reshaping our understanding of white supremacy in the United States, and the participation of faculty and students in the civil rights movement has been and remains strong. Universities themselves play another key role as sites of educational equity. The opening of universities to people formerly denied access is a key part of the history of civil rights in the U.S. And no one has done this better than Cal State LA.

We continue to be widely recognized for this success. In July, I attended the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Academic Affairs Summer Meeting. The conference’s opening remarks centered on the transformative power of comprehensive state colleges and universities and the imperative to enable more low-income, first-generation students to earn their degrees. I am happy to report that Cal State LA was again singled out for recognition as the #1 university in the country for upward mobility. To echo President Covino on this matter, this remarkable achievement rests on the people of Cal State LA—the determination of our students and the dedication of faculty, staff, and administrators. 

In light of recent history and events, our role as an engine of educational equity has never been more important. What does this mean for us now? We must close the equity gap; we must produce more college graduates; and we must work together to do it.

As always, I thank you for your unwavering commitment to our students and our community. I look forward to an exciting year ahead!

Honors College

Please join me in thanking Dr. Martin Adamian for his contributions to the Honors College through his role as associate director. He has returned to his faculty position in the Department of Political Science, but will continue to collaborate with the Honors College and will continue teaching and mentoring Honors College students.

Dr. Scott Wells is now serving as interim associate director of the Honors College as of August 2017. Dr. Wells received his BA from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in medieval European history from New York University. He joined Cal State LA in 2003, and received his promotion to Professor of History in 2014.  He served as co-advisor for Phi Alpha Theta, the history student honors society, and taught a range of courses in European and world history, as well as in comparative religious studies.  In addition, he has served the University and the College of Natural and Social Sciences in various capacities, including Quarter-to-Semester Curriculum Conversion Coordinator for NSS from 2013 to 2014 and chair of the History Department from 2014 to 2017. He has been involved with the Honors College since spring 2013 when he started teaching the upper-division honors course in the social sciences.

Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity Issues

Dr. Mike Soldatenko has been named special assistant to the provost for diversity issues.  He has been a member of the Cal State LA family for the last twelve years in the Department of the Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies. Most recently, he was an associate dean in the College of Natural and Social Sciences. He will be reporting directly to the Vice Provost for Diversity and Engaged Learning, Chief Diversity Officer for Academic and Student Life, Dr. Octavio Villalpando, and will be working with Octavio on diversity initiatives and diversity pathway programs. 

promoted faculty updates

For faculty, tenure and promotion are among the hardest-achieved of professional goals. They require years of professional activity, thousands of hours perfecting teaching and service to departments, colleges and the university. It is with great pleasure that I congratulate our newest tenured associate professors:

Edward Eivers Biological Sciences
Louis Esparza Sociology
Mitch Fryling Special Education
Ellen Shiau Political Science
Nnenna Weathers Nursing

I also offer special congratulations to those who have earned the rank of full professor:

Pablo Baler Modern Languages
Cheryl Hannan Special Education
David Hossain Accounting
Albert Jones AASE
Robert Kennison Psychology
Gustavo Menezes Civil Engineering
Simona Montanari Child and Family Studies
James Ovelmen Art
Sara Pugach History
Xin Wen Chemistry
Michael Willard Liberal Studies

Contact the Office of the Provost with your comments and submissions here.