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Dean, Orfalea College of Business

Apply now Job no: 498964
Work type: Management (MPP)
Location: San Luis Obispo
Categories: Administrative, At-Will, Full Time


California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), a distinguished public undergraduate and Master’s level institution located in San Luis Obispo, California, seeks a new Dean of the Orfalea College of Business. The University seeks a visionary leader with a deep and demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; a solid scholarly record; and the ability to foster collaboration within the College, across the University, and beyond.

Cal Poly aspires to be the nation’s premier comprehensive polytechnic university, developing and inspiring innovative whole system thinkers to serve California and the world at large. The Dean’s principal responsibilities will be to promote Cal Poly’s mission of “Learn by Doing” through excellent business education in a comprehensive polytechnic setting, generating career-ready graduates. The Dean will work in close partnership with the Provost, President, other senior administrators, faculty and staff, and students, to lead and oversee the College’s vision and identity, academic programs and scholarship, student success, and external reputation and relationships. The successful candidate will be an inspiring and energetic leader with the proven capacity to advance an academic mission through excellent stewardship, thoughtful cultivation of key relationships and sound financial management.

In 2001, Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s and the Orfalea Family Foundation provided a $15M endowment to further the strategic plan of Cal Poly’s College of Business to become one of the nation’s premier undergraduate and graduate programs. Today, the Orfalea endowment earnings are used for faculty support, student support and for college facilities.  The Orfalea College of Business is an engaged learning community that contributes to business and society through discovery and application. The faculty within the College are organized into six academic areas - Accounting and Law; Economics; Finance; Industrial Technology & Packaging; Management, HR & Information Systems; and Marketing - each headed by an area chair. At the undergraduate level, the college offers programs leading to degrees of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Economics, and Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology & Packaging as well as minors in Accounting, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Integrated Marketing Communications, Sales, Industrial Technology, and Packaging. Students in the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Economics programs can choose from nine different concentrations: Accounting, Consumer Packaging Solutions, Entrepreneurship, Financial Management, Information Systems, Management & HR, Marketing Management, Quantitative Analysis, and Real Estate Finance. At the graduate level, the college offers five specialized M.S. programs (Accounting, Business Analytics, Packaging Value Chain, Quantitative Economics, and Taxation) and an MBA program.

Cal Poly, one of 23 universities in the California State University (CSU) System, is located in San Luis Obispo, a coastal city halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The San Luis Obispo community is nestled close to the Pacific Ocean, has a population of over 46,000, and is an area with an extraordinary quality of life. The economy is based largely on agriculture and tourism and the region is known for producing world-class wine. With close proximity to many excellent vineyards on the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo (or “SLO” for short), is the geographic and figurative heart of California. The San Luis Obispo Regional Airport offers commercial air service to eight major airports, and Amtrak offers daily rail service in California and other destinations. More information about Cal Poly, its mission, values and strategic plan can be found in Appendix I.


The Orfalea College of Business produces career-ready, global business leaders through hands on discovery and application. All Orfalea College of Business baccalaureate and graduate programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). In addition, the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology is accredited by the Association of Technology Management and Applied Engineering. In addition to the degree programs listed above, the College also has some joint and dual degree programs. A dual degree option is offered in Architectural Management leading to a Bachelor of Architecture or Landscape Architecture and MBA. Approximately 80 full-time and 50 adjunct faculty members in the College teach 3,089 undergraduate majors within the College and 115 graduate students.

Within the Orfalea College of Business, “Learn by Doing” is reinforced through senior project classes which are required and contain an experiential learning project, ranging from marketing research, to economic analyses, to a low-income tax clinic, to the development of new product packaging. The College’s learning environment embraces a teacher-scholar model, where professors are expected to display excellent pedagogical skills as well as engage in scholarly research and publication on an ongoing basis. Engaging in scholarship is one manifestation of Learn by Doing within the faculty. The faculty of the Orfalea College of Business maintains an active program of research and publication.

The College provides some of the most comprehensive student support services found at the university. The Orfalea Student Services center houses 7 professional staff members, 6 student leadership roles, and over 100 student leadership positions. They offer tutoring, mentoring, advising, and welcoming services to various stakeholders. At least partially due to these services, the College boasts the highest retention and graduation rates in the university. There are also 12 different clubs that support each concentration as well as other affinity and professional groups, who regularly bring industry professionals to campus.

The College plays an active role in Cal Poly’s Technology Park, an on-campus hub of activity for businesses that are engaged in cutting-edge research and development, and that provide hands-on learning and employment opportunities for students, graduates and local entrepreneurs. In addition, the College has strong links to the University-wide Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in which students learn to generate innovative solutions to real-world problems, research promising technologies and develop viable business plans with the support of experienced entrepreneurs and faculty mentors. The Center serves as an access point for the community to engage the entrepreneurial resources available at the University. To learn more about the Center, please visit


With energetic leadership and improving economic conditions in California, Cal Poly is at a juncture in its history where it can build capacity and capability to respond to untapped opportunities inside and outside the University and to prepare its students for success and leadership in a dynamic global workplace.

As the principal intellectual leader of the College, the Dean provides support for the faculty, staff, and students by creating a positive and inclusive environment for teaching, scholarship, research and professional engagement, and service to the University and community. The Dean is responsible for the quality of academic programs and for managing the fiscal resources, human resources, and the physical facilities of the College. The Dean is expected to build partnerships with alumni and the business community, and to seek supplemental financial support for both new and existing programs and professional development. The successful candidate should be prepared to demonstrate the leadership ability to distinguish the Orfalea College of Business as a premier learning center that is reflective of the polytechnic character of the University. It is the explicit charge of the Dean of the Orfalea College of Business to build on the successful reputation of the College by further strengthening the individual programs and by enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration and integration among appropriate disciplines inside and outside the College. Deans at Cal Poly are expected to be model university citizens, advocating not just for their own units but for the University as a whole. The Dean participates in the development of university-wide policy as a member of the Provost’s Council and the President’s Leadership Council. The Dean is appointed by the President and reports directly to the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Partnering with the administration, faculty, students and staff, the Dean will build on the upward trajectory of the Orfalea College of Business. The Dean will oversee a $17.4M budget and $19M endowment with a yearly payout of $1.2M. The Dean will need to address the following opportunities and challenges:

Lead the development of a strategic vision for Orfalea College of Business

As a visible and engaged leader, the Dean will work in partnership with faculty, staff, and students to build on the College’s successes and drive a longer-term strategic vision and plan for the College that defines its role within Cal Poly, locally, regionally and beyond and is in alignment with the University’s plan. Issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion should be foundational to this plan. The Dean must come to understand the College and its stakeholders, embrace the mission of public higher education, and engage the College community to develop a unique plan that considers OCOB’s strengths and areas where improvements can be made. The Dean should lead the College to create and facilitate more partnerships across Cal Poly’s colleges in areas of high demand, for example between information systems and engineering, computer science, and data analytics. The Dean should help the College capitalize on trends in business and the economy to continue to align and grow programs that address the demands of the business community and market, as well as the internal market for more business courses for non-business students. While the College is known for its undergraduate programs, there is an ongoing opportunity to explore niches where value can be provided to master’s students, leveraging Cal Poly’s strengths. Indeed, the College’s last AACSB accreditation visit identified a need to better articulate the vision for the College’s graduate programs and research aspirations. The Dean should ensure that a clear vision and messaging feeds into the push for effective branding and marketing to prospective students, and to alumni, community, regional and national contacts.

The development of both short- and long-term plans will require broad consultation with faculty, students, staff, advisory board members, University partners, and key external stakeholders to ensure the College is forward-looking, entrepreneurial and innovative in its direction, and embracing of the challenges and opportunities of a diverse and global environment. The plan should identify areas for growth and outline a financial plan to support all activities and improvements in a clear and transparent manner. It should engage and excite internal and potential external stakeholders alike. While the Dean will continue to leverage existing resources such as the Orfalea endowment, they should make the endowment’s purpose clear to constituents and ensure an aligned, principled and equitable use of endowment funds in relation to the College’s vision and strategic plan.    

Retain and develop excellent faculty into an inclusive shared governance structure

In addition to strong strategic leadership, the Dean will bring management experience and talents to the position, and the ability to embrace and leverage shared governance, creating structures and policies that effectively support and manage the College and enable broad feedback. The Dean will work with faculty to increase connections among and within departments with a shared sense of vision and purpose. The Dean will unify the College, creating greater departmental cohesion and seeking to develop a strategic plan all areas can fully support and get behind. This will include fostering a culture of equity and inclusion, transparency, and shared decision making. By creating an environment that is engaged, dynamic and forward-thinking, the Dean will help attract excellent and diverse faculty to the College. As part of recruiting and retaining strong faculty, the Dean will foster mentoring and training for all members of the College, particularly for junior tenure track faculty.

The University, under the leadership of President Jeff Armstrong and Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, is dedicated to the teacher-scholar model of faculty. The College already has a university model of rewarding faculty research through its faculty annual review process (FAR), though additional resources to support faculty sabbaticals, joint research programs, and further applied research with industry should be encouraged. The Dean, in partnership with the OCOB community, will identify opportunities to enhance and support both teaching and scholarship within the College. Above all, the Dean will pursue a culture of professionalism, modeling strong and dependable leadership.

Continue to drive student success to create real world leaders in a diverse environment

The Orfalea College of Business and Cal Poly in general has a highly selective admissions program and strong graduation rates, a strength the College is committed to preserve, while creating an inclusive and supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds. It will be important for the Dean to be visible and interact with all students in the College to encourage their involvement and feedback and to understand their needs. The Dean will have the opportunity to continue the College’s existing peer-advising program that has served as a university-wide model for increasing retention and graduation rates. Orfalea endowment money has already been invested in a scholars program to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their studies.

In addition to the existing support, the Dean should continue to support the development of programs, content, research and experiential opportunities that enable students to be ready for employment and leadership, conversant in current affairs and culturally competent. Students should be addressing real world problems aligned with the University’s “Learn by Doing” mission. The College will meet the greater business community’s needs in its graduates with applied learning, the development of new internship programs, the support of student start-ups in greater San Luis Obispo and in the region and overall placement support. In order to develop a strong sense of community and pride within the College of Business student body, the Dean should ensure that student successes are highlighted and celebrated publicly and there are opportunities for activities and competitions that support student leadership development. It will be important to connect alumni with students on and off campus and strengthen those networks for mutual benefit.

Wisely develop and manage resources to ensure OCOB fully achieves its ambitions

Given the complex financial, technological, and global challenges facing public higher education today, the Dean must possess strong resource management skills to keep the College on strong financial footing, even during challenging fiscal times. This endeavor will require a combination of skillful enrollment management, fundraising, support for research productivity and grant acquisition, and the development of diverse and distinctive academic programs.

All institutions of higher education are currently grappling with the many implications—financial and otherwise—of the coronavirus pandemic. Given that, it is all the more important that the Dean be a responsible and vigilant steward of the College and its resources. Additionally, the Dean will have the skills necessary to successfully advocate for the College and build consensus with campus leadership.

Increase external industry partnerships and fundraising

The Dean will need to be an external advocate of the College of Business. As a representative of the school, the Dean will be a leading voice in business nationally and internationally. The Dean is supported by a 44-member Dean Advisory Council to connect the College with a pulse on external needs. An ambassador for the value and the success of the College, the Dean will grow external relations with industry, nonprofits, and other institutions and create public-private partnerships. This will begin with—but develop beyond—increased partnerships in the Bay Area and Southern California, gaining visibility and prominence for the College in California and the nation.

Given the presence of successful and committed alumni throughout the country, industry partnerships exist throughout the College and the Dean will have the opportunity to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset, identify synergies, and support and leverage preexisting relationships to connect to faculty and students. The Dean will support and expand the College’s role in the University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship which also provides numerous opportunities to increase the College’s ties to the greater business community and serves as a launching point to connect to prospects in the Silicon Valley. The Dean should formulate a plan and purpose for the long-term fundraising vision and be able to communicate this vision to all constituencies. Increased visibility within the local business community and throughout California will not only help the College to reach its fundraising goals but also help further define and implement the College’s strategic direction.


The Dean must have the ability to set and hold a course that best reflects the needs and culture of the University and its role as a comprehensive polytechnic. He or she must also have the passion, energy, and stamina for the job and must be dedicated to the ideal of public higher education and its benefits. The Dean must be able to work creatively with others to discover the best response to the opportunities and challenges facing the University and must develop respect for all members of the University community.

As indicated in the official advertisement of the Dean of the Orfalea College of Business position, the ideal candidate should demonstrate evidence of the following: 

  • Significant academic and administrative experience.
  • An earned doctorate or other terminal degree, and credentials appropriate for a tenured appointment at the rank of professor within the Orfalea College of Business.
  • A demonstrated capacity for academic leadership, the evaluation of scholarly output, and team building in a school that is comparable to Cal Poly.
  • A demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • A capacity of leading and supporting a diverse faculty and staff by facilitating a collegial culture.
  • Evidence of a strong commitment to excellent teaching and scholarship (as evidenced by the candidate’s research and publication record).
  • A commitment to supporting the use of technology to enhance student learning.
  • A demonstrated commitment to supporting student success.
  • A proven record in building partnerships with alumni and the business community.
  • Capability to expand alliances with the private sector.
  • Experience in the design and continuous implementation of the strategic planning process.
  • Strong experience and a commitment to engage the College in a comprehensive program of advancement activities.
  • Ability to work effectively with a diverse campus community and strong commitment to support and expand inclusive excellence throughout the University and community.
  • Familiarity with significant business issues confronting domestic and global markets and also be familiar with AACSB Accreditation standards.


Salary is commensurate with the background and experience of the individual selected. The Management Personnel Plan adopted by the CSU Board of Trustees governs all rights associated with the appointment.


Cal Poly has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this search. The search committee will review nominations and applications until the position is filled. However, to ensure full consideration, applicants are encouraged to submit materials by March 22, 2021. The anticipated starting date for the position is July 1, 2021. Nominations and inquiries should be made to David Bellshaw and Brett Barbour of Isaacson Miller (see contact information below).

To apply, visit to complete the required online Cal Poly Application. In addition, each applicant must provide as separate attachments to the online application a detailed curriculum vitae or resume, a cover letter, and a Diversity Statement. The cover letter should address the applicant’s qualifications and experience for this position, including a personal statement of the applicant’s views on academic administration and the role and responsibilities of business faculty, as well as the applicant’s experiences with and views on leadership, and their management style.

Inquiries, nominations, and referrals may be sent via the Isaacson, Miller website for the search:

David Bellshaw and Brett Barbour 

Isaacson, Miller

1000 Sansome Street, Suite 300

San Francisco, CA  94111

Phone: 415.655.4909

At California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, we believe that cultivating an environment that embraces and promotes diversity is fundamental to the success of our students, our employees and our community. Bringing people together from different backgrounds, experiences and value systems fosters the innovative and creative thinking that exemplifies Cal Poly’s values of free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.

Cal Poly’s commitment to diversity informs our efforts in recruitment, hiring and retention.

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