Cal 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.
Cal Poly Provost Kathleen Enz Finken has announced the appointment of an interim dean for the Orfalea College of Business. Kevin Lertwachara, associate dean for the college’s undergraduate programs, will serve as interim dean effective Nov. 1.
Current Dean Scott Dawson announced he will step down after the loss of his wife, Bridget, in a bicycling accident in July. Dawson plans to return to Portland, Ore., to be closer to family and friends.
Enz Finken also announced that marketing Professor Stern Neill will serve as interim associate dean for undergraduate programs. Neill will provide additional support and guidance to the college’s career-readiness initiatives. He will work closely with Amy Carter, who was recently named assistant dean of student success in the Orfalea College of Business.
“I am very pleased to have Professors Lertwachara and Neill join the leadership team during this period of transition,” said Enz Finken. “They have been fully engaged members of the Cal Poly community over the years, and are highly respected for their thoughtful and collegial leadership of college initiatives.”
Lertwachara joined the Cal Poly faculty in 2004 as a professor teaching information systems. He received Orfalea’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award in 2009 and served as the Management, Human Resources and Information Systems Area chair from 2013 to 2014.
Lertwachara earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from King Mongkut’s University of Technology in Thailand and an MBA from Westminster College. He also earned a doctorate in operations and information management from the University of Connecticut.
Neill joined Cal Poly’s Marketing Area in 2008 after teaching for eight years at the University of Washington, Tacoma. He is also a visiting scholar at Yashan University in China. Neill earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in business administration from Louisiana State University. He also holds an MBA from Southeastern Louisiana University. He serves on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Business Research and Industrial Marketing Management.
Cal Poly will conduct a national search for the next permanent dean of the college.
Beena Khurana, director of MBA programs, accompanied President Jeffrey Armstrong in January to promote Cal Poly and Orfalea College of Business Graduate Programs to Indian Universities and students. They met with the director and faculty of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and the executive director and staff of the United States-India Education Foundation (USIEF) Delhi. Both directors were highly impressed with what Cal Poly has to offer. Associate Deans Sanjiv Jaggia and Kevin Lertwachara traveled to Delhi in March to follow up on the links forged by the president.
Khurana shares her perspective on traveling with President Armstrong and how the two experienced Indian culture together:
It’s not everyday one gets to travel with a relative stranger who is a university president.
In my mind, public figures tend to have IKEA personalities – flat, and largely two-dimensional. So when the opportunity to travel with President Armstrong to promote Cal Poly to Indian Universities and students arose, I wasn’t quite sure what the flat-pack would reveal.
From the first moment it was clear that President Armstrong is not an on-the-sidelines traveller. Upon checking into the hotel he promptly went and got a haircut and discovered one of the greatest joys of India. Haircuts you say? Yes haircuts. Why you ask? Well because they are accompanied with a head massage, ‘champi’. As he showed me his newly hand-trimmed hair, I couldn’t resist telling him that the English word for shampoo is actually derived from the Hindi word ‘champoo’ which describes the process of pressing and kneading the head in order to soothe and relieve stress.
At our first meal together he completely trusted me with selecting what we would eat. Upon ascertaining his constraints, I ordered gosht (lamb), whole moong dal (lentils, slow cooked and rustic) alloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) along with an assortment of roti (bread). He admired the ‘rumali’ roti; its thinness is legendary and its name literally means ‘handkerchief’. He ate heartily all the while enquiring about the flavors, seasoning, cooking methods and the etiquette of gift giving in India.
The man is without a doubt curious and open to experience. We finished on a signature North Indian dessert – kulfi falooda (Indian ice cream with rose flavored vermicelli). The dish arrived. The President took one look at the noodles and expressed surprise, while reaching for his spoon. He recognized the ‘push out of comfort zone’ moment but that didn’t stop him from embracing it. He ended up loving the dessert and ordering it on subsequent occasions, much to the delight of waiters. A traveller who knows and appreciates the local food is always welcome, especially so in India.
President Armstrong has a good phonological loop (aka ear). He picks up foreign words easily and quickly puts them to use. ‘Acha’ (which means: fine, good, yes, okay, alright), ‘namaste’ (hello, goodbye) and ‘shukria’ (thank you) were among the first additions. Hotel staff, doormen (there weren’t any women ushering us in and out of buildings) and drivers alike were charmed that he peppered conversations with Hindi words. My favorite outing with him was to Bangla Sahib, a gurudwara (temple) of the Sikh faith. When we visited the kitchen I introduced him to the concept of langar (kitchen, where food is prepared and served free of charge to anyone who stops by, regardless of who they are). Bangla Sahib feeds over 20,000 visitors daily. A couple of cooking stations in, and he had taken on board the essence of Sikhism – ‘seva’ (selfless service). So when the opportunity arose, he contributed by flipping rotis on a huge skillet. I now know that our President doesn’t simply talk about Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy.
And so it came to pass that I became acquainted with President Armstrong’s wellspring of cultural intelligence. Our world today is increasingly diverse. In the smorgasbord of individuals, organizations and nations that we deal with, some of us flourish more so than others. Initially such success was ascribed to a greater intelligence quotient (IQ) and then later to a combination of IQ and emotional intelligence (EQ). However there is a new kid on the block. It is an altogether different intelligence, one that underlies the ability to function effectively in culturally diverse situations – cultural intelligence (CQ). CQ represents the ability to grasp and reason correctly in situations characterized by cultural diversity. Individuals with high CQ are effective not only in facing cross-cultural challenges, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in perceiving and learning from cross-cultural opportunities.
Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business has appointed three associate deans to the leadership team that will support Dean Scott Dawson as he implements a strategic vision for the college.
Sanjiv Jaggia is associate dean for graduate programs, Kevin Lertwachara is associate dean for undergraduate programs, and Rami Shani is associate dean for faculty and research.
Dawson said this leadership structure will ensure the college’s ability to implement the new strategy as it bolsters its external presence with alumni, industry partners and supporters worldwide. “In order to set our sights on our big goals — career readiness, international partnerships, targeted graduate programs, and cross-pollination with other disciplines — we have to put the right structure in place,” Dawson said. “My confidence in this team is echoed strongly by their colleagues, and that gives us a great place to start.”
Jaggia will lead the college’s graduate programs, which include master’s degrees in business administration, tax, financial accounting and economics. In his new role, he will strengthen the quality of existing programs, lead the development of new programs, connect students to research opportunities, enhance study-abroad partnerships, and foster industry mentorships. Jaggia joined Cal Poly in 2007 and has research interest in empirical finance and econometrics.
Lertwachara will guide undergraduate programs among the college’s six academic areas with a particular focus on preparing career-ready graduates. He will work closely with industry leaders who hire Orfalea College of Business alumni to evolve curricula and experiences outside the classroom in step with industry demand. Lertwachara has been an information systems professor at Cal Poly since 2004, applying his expertise to electronic commerce, online social networks, and health care information. He formerly served as the college’s Management, Human Resources and Information Systems Area chair.
Shani will oversee faculty and research, directing faculty development, hiring, retention and promotion to ensure the college maintains the highest-quality instructors who build a leading experiential business education for students. In support of the university’s teacher-scholar model, Shani will also connect faculty with research opportunities that help advance the fields they teach. Shani joined Cal Poly in 1984, teaching organizational behavior. He has also taught in China, France, Italy, Ireland, Israel, and Sweden.
Kris McKinlay will remain in the dean’s office under a new title, the Orfalea College of Business’ Assistant Dean for Operations and Student Success.
Dawson began his role as dean on Aug. 1 after 14 years as dean of Portland State University’s School of Business Administration.