New CLA dean: I'm up for the challenge
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 11:09
In midst of budget concerns and a possible trigger cut, the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Cal State Long Beach, David Wallace, has stepped into a tough position.
“The job requires big shoes,” CLA Associate Dean Mark Wiley said. “It’s a steep learning curve.”
Wallace, who started the job on July 1, now holds the responsibility of managing the budget for each department of the CLA. He said he faced similar budgetary problems while working as chair of the English department at the University of Central Florida (UCF) but on a smaller scale.
“I’m up for the challenge of the bigger job, but I’m also not naïve about challenges that it entails,” he said. “There could be some hard decisions that have got to be made. Provost [Donald J.] Para made sure I understood challenges of this job.”
The CLA consists of 23 departments and eight programs, with about 40 percent of the CSULB student body taking classes in the college, according to Wallace.
Wallace has entered his new position while facing the possibility of a $250 million trigger cut to the Cal State University system should Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative does not pass in November. In its share of the cut, CSULB would lose approximately $13 million from its budget.
“We operated on a small budget before the reductions,” Donald J. Para, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at CSULB, said. “We are planning for the worst case scenario. [There are] concerns when you have a job that big. It’s a daunting task for any dean. I’m concerned for all our deans.”
Budget concerns, however, are nothing new to Wallace. He served as chair of the English department as well as the writing and rhetoric department at UCF, which has also undergone budget crises.
UCF, which had an admissions rate of approximately 58,000 students for fall 2012, has seen $77.2 million in budget cuts since 2007-08 due to lack of state funding, according to the university’s website. CSULB has seen about $105 million in cuts, according to CSULB Associate Vice President of Budget and University Services Ted Kadowaki.
“Florida is a closer environment to California,” Para said. “Both states have drastically been reducing funds.”
Wallace said that his main goal while on campus is to have students get all of their classes and requirements they need to fulfill their degrees, even with the cuts in the CLA.
“My first goal is survival; there is so much to learn and learn quickly,” he said. “The priority is to make sure we can manage curriculum in college. That’s job one; there may not be a job two.”
Other than keeping the budget under control, Wallace said he looks forward to mentoring the faculty on a larger scale.
“We want to make sure we invest [in faculty] properly,” he said. “As department chair it was easier; as dean, it is much more different if you are mentoring faculty.”
During his first three weeks on the job, Wallace made sure to make himself familiar with faculty and the different departments CSULB has to offer. He also made visits to the campus in March and April before he was hired, according to Para.
“I’m very comfortable working with him,” Wiley said. “He consults regularly.”
Wallace was born and raised in North Dakota. He later received his master’s degree in rhetoric and linguistics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and then his doctorate’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
His first academic job was teaching rhetoric and composition at Iowa State University before moving to Florida to work at UCF.
“[CSULB] seemed like the next step in my career,” Wallace said.
The previous dean of the CLA, Gerry Riposa, announced his retirement in June 2012. According to Para, Riposa retired after serving eight years as dean of the CLA and is now on the faculty early retirement program. The program allows faculty who choose to retire to work half time for five years before they retire.