New College of Science and Mathematics dean settles in

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Jerry Stinner was at the University of Akron in Ohio for 23 years, more than 12 of those years as chair of the Biology Department, when he decided to make a change and come to California.

Stinner became dean of the College of Science and Mathematics in July.

“I was ready for a change, and I felt like I had accomplished everything that I could,” Stinner said. “I miss Akron, but I knew I had to do this.”

He said he was offered several positions from universities in Texas, Oregon and South Carolina, but he chose to accept the dean position at CSUN partly because he and his wife love Southern California, where they met.

Since moving out to Southern California to start his new job at CSUN, he said he has found it difficult to get used to his new surroundings, the structure of the school, all of the e-mails and messages he is sent, and day-to-day activities, such as finding a new dry cleaner.

He said the unexpected death of Omar Zahir on Aug. 26, chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, was one of the most difficult events he had to deal with emotionally since his arrival.

“I found him to be a delight – a department chair I would really like to work with,” Stinner said.

He said he found the passing of Zahir to be difficult. Stinner worked to make grief counseling available to the departments within his college. He said he looked into various ways to preserve Zahir’s memory, met with CSUN Chief of Police Anne Glavin to go over emergency safety procedures, and put together a memorial service set for Oct. 3, where his family and members of the campus community are invited.

He is also working closely with the department to find a new chair.

With just two months of being here, he said he could see how CSUN is similar to UA.

“(CSUN and Akron) are facing many of the same challenges,” Stinner said. “State budgets … are decreasing and having to look for revenues through advancement, such as private donations or grants.”

CSUN and Akron are both mainly commuter schools with few dorms, and most students also have jobs while they attend school. Students on both campuses also face the same sort of life issues.

“Both campuses are struggling with how they are going to handle higher education and how they are going to define themselves,” Stinner said.

He said CSUN is more aesthetically pleasing and open than Akron. Stinner said CSUN is broadly based on excellent educational programs.

At Akron, a student can get a doctorate through several programs that are offered, according to Stinner. It also has the second-ranked polymer science program in the country, and is known for their science and engineering program as well.

He said he would also like to see the scholarship and research program grow, and its $8 million funding increased. Stinner said he also wants to encourage strong teaching and research by hiring new faculty, and wants CSUN to be recognized nationally and internationally for work done in his college.

“I would expect him to increase resources for the college to the benefit of students and to support faculty research,” said Professor Julio Blanco, chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department.

He added that he should do what is best, regardless of previous practices, keeping an open administration that informs every one of his decisions.

“I am delighted to be here and am very impressed with the central administration,” Stinner said.

Candice Mitchell can be reached at candice.mitchell.619@csun.edu.