Associate Dean Kevin Lertwachara will become the new interim dean for the Orfalea College of Business effective Nov. 1, following Dean Scott Dawson’s departure at the end of October.
Dawson announced his leave after losing his wife, Bridget Dawson, in a bicycling accident in July. He will be moving to Portland, Oregon to be closer with friends and family.
In the upcoming months as the interim dean, Lertwachara will take over all Dawson’s responsibilities. The department will be focused on keeping its momentum going and nurturing existing programs such as the Executives in Residence program, where business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs spend time working with students in addition to lecturing in classes, according to the Orfalea College of Business.
Lertwachara began teaching information systems on campus in 2004, before serving as Orfalea’s Management, Human Resources and Information Systems Area chair and then later becoming associate dean in 2014. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from King Mongkut’s University of Technology in Thailand and a Masters of Business Administration from Westminster College, as well as a doctorate degree in operations and information management from the University of Connecticut.
Marketing professor Stern Neill will take over Lertwachara’s position as the interim associate dean for undergraduate programs, where he will be working closely with the Assistant Dean for Student Success Amy Carter.
“The beauty of my new role is that it allows for some classroom instruction so that I remain directly engaged in teaching and learning. While less of my time will be dedicated to teaching this year, my new responsibilities still have me 100 percent focused on students,” Neill said in an email interview. “This quarter, I’m teaching BUS 418 — Listening to the Customer, but all students in the Orfalea College of Business will be affected by my new position this year.”
Neill joined Cal Poly’s Marketing Area in 2008 after teaching for eight years at the University of Washington, Tacoma. He earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in business administration from Louisiana State University, as well as a Masters of Business Administration from Southeastern Louisiana University.
“I am very pleased to have Professors Lertwachara and Neill join the leadership team during this period of transition,” Provost Kathleen Enz Finken said in a press release. “They have been fully engaged members of the Cal Poly community over the years, and are highly respected for their thoughtful and collegial leadership of college initiatives.”
From now until Nov. 1, Dawson and Lertwachara will be working together with Neill to make sure everything is ready before Dawson’s leave. In addition, they will be working with the Dean’s advisory council to ensure all leadership in Orfalea is aware of their plan moving forward.
“Dean Dawson and I have already started making transition. We had a college-wide meeting last week and went over the annual plans and goals for the college with the faculty and staff,” Lertwachara said in an email interview.
Both Neill and Lertwachara will stay in their positions until Cal Poly conducts a nationwide search for the next permanent dean in the upcoming months.