Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Leadership Changes in Academic Affairs

June 21, 2017
Debra S. Larson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

I am pleased to announce several key leadership changes in Academic Affairs that will occur over the summer. As we announced in May, William Loker is now serving as Interim Vice Provost for Academic Programs, leaving the position of Dean of Undergraduate Education vacant. After a campus-only search, Kate McCarthy has been selected to fill the role. Her interim appointment is effective July 10, 2017. 

McCarthy has chaired the Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities (CORH) since 2016. She has a doctorate in Philosophy of Religion from the Graduate Theological Union, a MTS from the Harvard Divinity School, and a bachelor’s degree in English and religion from Colgate University. Since her 1994 faculty appointment in CORH, McCarthy’s teaching has focused on women in religion and Christianity. She has published books on interreligious relations and religion in popular culture. She also held the role of Interim Director of Faculty Development in 2014-15. Please join me in welcoming Dean McCarthy into her new role. 

Sarah Blakeslee, Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Personnel (AVP FAAF), will be stepping down from her role at the end of July. Blakeslee was appointed as the interim AVP in February 2016 and has provided unflappable leadership and direction on a myriad of faculty matters. Her knowledge and ability to deal with the demands of the Office Academic Personnel while maintaining her sense of humor and focus were invaluable during recent leadership transitions. For that, and much more, I hope you will join me in thanking Sarah for her unquestionable dedication to Chico State.

The search for a new Vice Provost for Academic Personnel was unsuccessful due largely to the need to restructure this key leadership position. While the job description is under review, I am appointing Evanne O’Donnell as Interim Vice Provost for Academic Personnel. O’Donnell has served as the Director of (Faculty) Labor Relations since February 2013. Her experience includes: ensuring compliance with collective bargaining agreements; handling grievances and policy investigations; advising deans, chairs and faculty on collective bargaining terms and campus policies; trainings; and more. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from New College School of Law in San Francisco and her professional mediation certification from Sacramento Mediation Center. Prior to her arrival at Chico State, O’Donnell served as the Managing Attorney of Legal Services of Northern California, Butte Regional Office for 10 years, with a focus on civil litigation. As Interim Vice Provost for Academic Personnel, she will work closely with the Provost and Office of Academic Personnel staff to administer faculty personnel processes and oversee all labor relations processes.  During the interim, Faculty Development will be shifted under Academic Programs.

At the end of June, Kevin Kelley, Interim Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs (RESP), will be stepping down from his position. Kelley was hired in July 2015 to guide RESP in providing service to the campus community and beyond. Kelley successfully rebuilt positive relationships between RESP and deans, faculty, and the campus; worked with the Dean of the Library to foster outreach and recognition for campus research faculty and project directors; worked diligently to improve and update policies and procedures; and embedded accountability measures. We greatly appreciate all he has done during his short tenure at Chico State, and I hope you will join me in thanking Kelley for his outstanding service to our campus.

The new Associate Vice President for RESP, Richard Tafalla, will take over the RESP leadership role on July 3, 2017. Please reach out to Tafalla after his arrival and give him a warm Chico State welcome.

My first four months at Chico State have been a whirlwind of people and information. The clear commonality is the dedicated faculty and staff focused on ensuring that our students succeed. These leadership appointments, made after consultation with the Academic Senate, will help us continue that tradition while strengthening our ability to focus on budget management, academic leadership roles, collaboration, and more.