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President's Office Letters Web Page Banner Image

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students appointment


June 2 , 2010


To the Campus Community:

Rarely do circumstances come together in a way that creates strong unified support for an action that deviates from the University's usual practices, but this clearly is such a moment.

I am delighted to announce that Dr. William Watkins, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, has accepted the regular appointment as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Cal State Northridge. With this appointment, the University will forgo a formal search. This appointment is effective June 1, 2010.

This action was taken, first and foremost, at the recommendation of the Faculty Senate's Personnel Planning and Review Committee. Their recommendation was based on Dr. Watkins' deep understanding of the University and its mission; his record of leadership and service on campus which encompasses more than 35 years; his well known commitment to student success; and his dedication to continuing the work begun by the late Vice President Terry Piper to ensure Student Affairs is foremost a division that advances and supports student learning.

This appointment is especially noteworthy, of course, because Dr. Watkins is a product of our outstanding institution, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree at Cal State Northridge in Urban Studies in 1974. As an undergraduate, he was elected student body president, the first African American to hold that position on campus. At graduation, he received the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award and a scholarship to attend USC where he earned a Master's in Public Administration in 1977. He earned a Doctor of Education degree from UCLA in 1999.

Vice President Watkins began working at Cal State Northridge as a work study student, as a recruiter and interviewer in the EOP. His first staff appointment was as a personnel assistant in Human Resources. Over time he steadily assumed positions of increasing responsibility in the department, eventually becoming the Associate Director for Personnel and Employee Relations in 1987. In line with his interest in and commitment to student success, he joined the senior leadership team in Student Affairs in July 1993 when he was appointed Acting Assistant Vice President for Student Life; he was appointed to the regular position in May 1994.

Last fall, a formal five year review was conducted of Dr. Watkins. The review found that "almost without exception, the responses were overwhelming positive.... William is respected, admired and trusted by students, staff, faculty and administrators.... He is a team player and collaborative within Student Affairs and with other divisions of the University.... Overwhelmingly, members of the campus community think that William is an extremely effective administrator who has shown his skills in leadership by being forthright and honest in all his interactions."

Vice President Terry Piper was committed to transforming Student Affairs to ensure the Division was focused on student learning and success. Vice President Piper and the University were at the leading edge nationally of this new and vibrant approach to Student Affairs. Dr. Watkins has played an important role in leading this change, and he remains committed to continuing the work begun by Vice President Piper.

Since the end of last year, the Student Affairs Division has functioned with uncertainty, knowing that their vice president was ill. During this time, Dr. Watkins served with distinction, providing continuity for the Division and at the University level, while also remaining in close contact with Vice President Piper.

While the circumstances of this appointment are bittersweet, I am grateful for Dr. Watkins' willingness to accept this appointment. The late Vice President Piper was a valued and respected member of our campus community, and he and Dr. Watkins formed an exceptionally strong and close partnership. Dr. Watkins has keenly felt the loss of his friend, and looks forward to the opportunity to build on Vice President Piper's legacy. The Cabinet and I look forward to working with Vice President Watkins as he assumes leadership of the Division of Student Affairs. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Watkins on this appointment.

Jolene Koester

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