Dr. William Watkins has accepted the regular appointment as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at CSUN following the recommendation of the Faculty Senate’s Personnel Planning and Review Committee.
The appointment was effective as of June 1, 2010 after the university decided to forgo a formal search for a candidate deciding instead to appoint Watkins, a CSUN veteran of Student Affairs for the job.
“My strongest reason for stepping up to the call was to take on the challenge and the honor of trying to continue Dr. Piper’s vision for Student Affairs and students of this institution” Watkins said.
Watkins had been serving as interim Vice President after Terry Piper took an indefinite leave due to health issues. Piper died in May from skin cancer and the position needed to be filled.
“I am honored but the circumstances continue to be those that break my heart,” Watkins said.
Many students on campus are aware of the circumstances concerning Watkins appointment.
“The loss of Dr. Terry Piper is very unfortunate,” said A.S. Vice President Neil Sanchez. “However, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Dr. Watkins will not only maintain but will in fact build upon the legacy Dr. Piper begun.”
Watkins has a rich and extensive history at CSUN. In 1973 Watkins was the first African-American to be elected A.S. president and graduated from CSUN with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies in 1974.
“I am a product of this institution,” Watkins said, “So I am sold on what we do. I believe in what this campus stands for and our potential.”
Watkins said he plans on utilizing his experience and campus knowledge to continue the Student Affairs work and reputation as a leader in student relations and development.
“There are over 30,000 students at this campus,” Watkins said. “We are trying to shrink the experience around students so that they can discover themselves and feel a sense of capacity to be successful here.”
The Student Affairs Division will have to face new challenges regarding student success and productivity, Watkins said. Recent budget cuts and furlough days have caused the Division to place increased responsibility on the shoulders of students, he added.
“Higher education is not an insignificant investment anymore,” Watkins said. “It is costly and it is going up by significant leaps. Our kids are graduating in a global economy and they have to be able to measure up and take care of business.”
Despite these difficulties, Watkins said he believes his understanding and knowledge of the goals of Student Affairs will allow him to provide leadership for the division.
“I think people will be able to find in me someone who can champion those things that have been working productively for us,” Watkins said. “We will not have to discover new language systems and new goals.”
A.S. President Conor Lansdale said he agrees Watkins “experience has given him the most complete understanding and appreciation of this campus.”
Watkins said he is not satisfied with simply maintaining the status quo. He said he believes he will be able to provide a context for the division to continue to grow and evolve.
“We are a learning organization at our core,” Watkins said. “So we will continue to learn and discover mostly from our students and what they tell us.”
Watkins said he is looking forward to the appointment as Vice President for Student Affairs , but the man whose work for CSUN students began nearly 40 years ago will not neglect the tracks left by his predecessor.
“We will not be working to forget,” Watkins said. “We will work to translate what Dr. Piper gave us as a way forward and we will continue to hear his voice in all that we do.”