Oct. 27, 2014Vol. 45, Issue 2

Elrod, Smits Join University Leadership

Smits, Elrod Join University Leadership

A Natural Fit

Susan ElrodThe University has hired two new interim administrators to fill critical leadership roles.

Susan Elrod, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at California State University, Fresno, has joined the University as interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. She replaces Belle Wei, who resigned from the provost position last month.

Elrod, a CSU, Chico alumna and former AS president, began in her new role Oct. 20. She has taken a leave of absence from Fresno State.

Prior to her dean appointment at Fresno State in January 2013, Elrod was a faculty member in the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for 15 years. During her tenure at Cal Poly, she also served as associate dean for strategic initiatives (College of Science and Mathematics), special assistant to the provost, vice chair of the Academic Senate, director of the University Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education, and assistant director of Cal Poly’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

From 2010 to 2012, Elrod was executive director of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ Project Kaleidoscope, which establishes national goals and initiatives in undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. She is also a former American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow, focusing on reaccreditation, assessment, and accountability issues.

Elrod graduated from CSU, Chico with honors in 1986. She majored in biology with a minor in chemistry. She served as AS president from 1985 to 1986. Elrod earned her doctorate in genetics from UC Davis in 1995.

"I am thrilled to have this opportunity to return to Chico State as interim provost,” said Elrod. “I know how transformative the Chico Experience is because of the impact that it had on my life. Chico is truly a special place. I look forward to working with the faculty, students, staff, alumni, friends, and community members to continue to advance the mission of this great University.” 

In a message to campus, President Paul Zingg wrote, “With a national reputation in STEM teaching and learning, extensive experience leading efforts with and for faculty and staff and an ability to work with other divisions like Student Affairs and Advancement to achieve her institution’s priorities, Susan is an ideal choice as our interim provost. And it doesn’t hurt that she is a proud alumna and looking forward to returning to Chico.”

Zingg said a national search for a permanent provost will begin in fall 2015 and that an interim provost serving at least one academic year will be a benefit to the University.

Peter SmitsTaking the lead in CSU, Chico’s development activities is Peter Smits, vice president emeritus at Fresno State, who began serving as interim vice president for University Advancement Sept. 15.

Smits replaces Rick Ellison, vice president for University Advancement since 2005, who accepted a new position in advancement at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

A national search for a permanent vice president for University Advancement will begin as soon as possible, Zingg said. Smits’ appointment is expected to extend at least into the spring.

Smits was vice president for Advancement at Fresno State for 20 years and was responsible for Fresno State’s programs in development and fundraising, university communications, endowment management, and alumni relations.

Prior to his appointment at Fresno State, he served as vice president for Advancement at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in western Pennsylvania. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York at Albany and PhD from the University of Buffalo. He completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University.

Smits has visited CSU, Chico many times and consulted with campus advancement professionals on several occasions. Zingg describes him as “the CSU’s most experienced and longest-serving advancement leader.”

“After meeting several times with senior leaders in Advancement, the consensus was to bring in an interim VP with extensive advancement experience who knows our campus and our strategic priorities. Peter Smits is exactly that person,” Zingg said.

Public Affairs and Publications staff