cal poly news

Back to Business

By Robyn Kontra

PHOTOGRAPHER Kaori Funahashi

In March, Cal Poly announced that former Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson would be returning to his post on June 1.

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

Provost Kathleen Enz Finken appointed Associate Dean Kevin Lertwachara as interim dean and began the search to recruit a new permanent dean; however, before any candidates were interviewed, Dawson reached out to Cal Poly to express his interest in returning.

“The break gave me the opportunity to reconsider my purpose,” said Dawson. “I came to the realization that helping young adults achieve their dreams is my passion, and being a dean at Cal Poly is perhaps the highest opportunity for fulfilling that passion.”

With the support of both the search committee and the California State University’s interim vice chancellor for human resources, Armstrong and Enz Finken cancelled the recruitment and appointed Dawson to the dean’s position. Lertwachara, an information systems professor, will return to his role as associate dean for the college’s undergraduate programs when Dawson returns.

“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.

Dawson says his return to Cal Poly is an opportunity to assess the college’s strategic plan, outreach efforts and core mission of preparing career-ready graduates. He will look for input from alumni, industry partners and board members as he continues building relationships that bolster Learn by Doing opportunities for students. “Orfalea is a special business school on an exciting trajectory,” he said. “I have deeply missed working with the faculty and staff who make this trajectory possible, and so I’m grateful for the opportunity to return as dean.”

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