Cal Poly Announces Scott Dawson to Return as Orfalea College of Business Dean


Scott DawsonCal Poly announced today that former Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson will return to the position effective June 1.

“We are pleased that Scott will return as part of our leadership team and that the Orfalea College of Business’ students, faculty and staff will once again benefit from his visionary leadership and commitment to Learn by Doing,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong.

Dawson led the Orfalea College of Business from August 2014 until November 2016, when he stepped down after the loss of his wife, Bridget, in a bicycling accident in July. He returned to Portland, Oregon, to be near family and friends.

Provost Kathleen Enz Finken appointed associate dean Kevin Lertwachara as interim dean effective Nov. 1 and convened a search committee to recruit a new permanent dean. However, before any candidate interviews took place, Dawson reached out to Cal Poly to express his interest in returning.

After consulting with and receiving the support of both the search committee and the California State University’s interim vice chancellor for human resources, Armstrong and Enz Finken decided to cancel the recruitment and appoint Dawson to the dean’s position.

“We continue to believe that Scott is the right person to lead the Orfalea College of Business and build upon its successes, and we are thrilled that we will have him back on campus.” Enz Finken said. “We offer our thanks to the members of the search committee for their time and energy. We are also grateful to Kevin Lertwachara for his thoughtful leadership during this interim period.”

Lertwachara, an information systems professor, will continue to serve as interim dean until June and then will return to his role as associate dean for the college’s undergraduate programs when Dawson returns.

Dawson first joined the Orfalea College of Business after nearly 30 years at Portland State University’s School of Business. He served multiple roles as a marketing professor and associate dean, eventually becoming dean in 2000.

Dawson earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Oregon. He holds a master’s in business administration and a doctorate from the University of Arizona.

A Message to Cal Poly Alumni from Dean Scott Dawson


Dean Scott Dawson

Dear Alumni,

I hope all our alumni had the chance to experience adventure and renewal this summer. The Orfalea College of Business is proud of the contributions you are making to society and grateful for the many ways you support our mission.

As some of you know, I lost my wife, Bridget, in a bicycling accident in July. The support of the Cal Poly community has meant so much to me and my family during this tough time. In November, I will return to Portland to pursue new professional endeavors and to be closer to my family.

However, you will not see a pause in the momentum during the year as the college searches for a new dean. We have a highly capable leadership team in place that will be pursuing initiatives in the college’s 2016-17 annual plan.

Expect to see a continuation of engagement outside the college through Executives in Residence, alumni events, and student tours. We will also welcome ten new members to the Dean’s Advisory Council meeting in October and start them on an ambitious agenda that includes planning for an outstanding alumni event in the Bay Area in fall 2017.

The momentum of the college’s career readiness initiative is continuing in numerous directions. Amy Carter, formerly Director of Student Services, will bring her significant leadership capabilities to her new role as Assistant Dean for Student Success. One of Amy’s projects this year is enlisting young alumni to provide career mentoring for students and implementing new software to improve resume quality. We are thrilled to welcome Alyssa Graudins, a Cal Poly alumna, as our new employer relations specialist. Alyssa brings significant experience, including working for the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, to a role that will expand and improve relationships with employers who need the expertise of Orfalea graduates.

I leave Cal Poly with a heavy heart. Working with Orfalea’s faculty, and truly amazing students and alumni the last few years has been an honor and deeply fulfilling. I hope the alumni community continues its support of the Orfalea College of Business and its vision of taking Learn by Doing to new heights.

I wish you all the very best.

Scott Dawson