Letter from the Dean


Scott Dawson explains what — and who — brought him back to the Orfalea College of Business.

Dear Orfalea Alumni, Industry Partners and Supporters,

As you may know, I stepped away from the Orfalea College of Business last fall after a family tragedy. Taking a break this year gave me the opportunity to clarify that being a dean is the best opportunity to fulfill my passion for helping young adults achieve their dreams. In January, the Orfalea Student Ambassadors — some of the finest people one could ever hope to know — came to Portland to tour Nike and Wieden+Kennedy. Twenty-four hours with the ambassadors reaffirmed that I would only consider being dean of the Orfalea College of Business.

When I reached out to Cal Poly earlier this year, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to return. The college is on a very exciting trajectory, and I have deeply missed working with the faculty and staff who make this trajectory possible. 

Gifted students with endearing values who have great experiences at Cal Poly, not surprisingly, become successful executives who want to contribute to their alma mater’s success. The thought of continuing to reconnect alumni and deepen relationships with members of advisory committees and other supporters excites me to no end.

We will continue implementing the strategy we started in 2014, which I felt needed at least three to five years to achieve a meaningful impact. We’ve made excellent progress with our initiatives in career readiness, packaging, innovation and entrepreneurship, internationalization and business analytics — all of which have been chronicled in previous issues of this magazine. We’re well on our way to raising donations for the first phase of the addition and renovation of our building. Generous donors are increasingly supporting students and recognizing our outstanding faculty. The college is well-positioned for a successful accreditation review by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) this fall.

I will speak for the entire Orfalea College of Business community in thanking Interim Dean Kevin Lertwachara, Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Stern Neill, and the rest of the leadership team for the fantastic job they’ve done maintaining our momentum this year. That team, along with the rest of the Orfalea community, is a dean’s dream. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to return as dean.

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