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Message from the Dean

Man with red tie and dark blue suit Welcome to the College of Natural and Social Sciences (NSS)! My name is René Vellanoweth and I’ll be NSS’ interim dean for 2021-2022. I am an archaeologist by training and have been part of the California State University (CSU) System for over 20 years, serving as a professor, department chair, and now interim college dean. The College is made up of twelve diverse departments and programs, over 150 talented tenured and tenure-track faculty, scores of gifted adjunct lecturers, and an incredible staff. We serve almost 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students pursuing their career goals and personal dreams. It is my honor to lead the college over this year of transition, as we gradually begin to repopulate campus over the coming months. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing students and professors work in-person again!

Last year we dealt with loss, anxiety, loneliness and some of those feelings will linger with us for a long time. At the same time, we saw superheroine efforts from faculty, staff, and STUDENTS alike navigate us to some level of normalcy as we experienced the effects of a global pandemic. Despite when it seemed like the odds were against us, we continued to offer classes; Honor’s and Master’s theses continued to be written; degrees conferred; and the heart of higher education continued to beat. We used available technology, teacher ingenuity, and student commitment to get us through a difficult year.

Let’s hope COVID-19 numbers continue to look good and more and more people become fully vaccinated. As we transition during Fall Semester and more students and faculty come back to the classroom, NSS is committed to providing a safe return-to-campus experience, where your health and safety will be at the forefront of our decision-making. Fall Semester will have a mixture of online, remote, in-person, and hybrid classes and labs. Many faculty research labs will be open as will the library and other campus resources. For now, college and department offices will be open and staff will be available to help you online, over the phone, and/or in-person.  

Over the coming year, we will work to ensure that clean spaces can be used in a safe manner for all. We will continue to monitor campus health and safety conditions and will maintain strict adherence to changing local, state, and federal health guidelines. If all goes well, we will occupy campus at full capacity during Spring Semester 2022. 

Whether you are a first-time freshman, graduating senior, new graduate student, or someone in between, we look forward to serving you at and making your experience at Cal State LA both rewarding and enjoyable!  



René L. Vellanoweth, Ph.D.
Interim Dean
Professor of Archaeology