Dean Epperson | Courtesy Photo

After six years serving as dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Doug Epperson will retire at the end of the 2017-2018 year.

Epperson began his Cal Poly career after serving as dean of Liberal Arts at Washington State University. He was ultimately drawn to Cal Poly due to its quality of leadership and dedication to student success, he said. 

“It has been exciting to be part of an organization that’s growing, and that growth reflects its dynamism,” Epperson said.

Before Epperson’s original decision to come to Cal Poly, his flight from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo was cancelled and Epperson hitched a ride with a Cal Poly student. His conversation with the student drew Epperson to the university. Epperson described the student as a high quality person and said their conversation made Epperson want to work with more students like him.

Contributions to CLA

As dean, Epperson created interdisciplinary programs alongside fellow faculty. Their flagship program in this area was the Science, Technology and Society (STS) Minors Program that started accepting applications during the 2015-2016 school year. The program includes four minors that combine  technology, public policy, science, media arts and society for students interested in learning about the intersections between each field.

“It makes sense for us to carry our skills and disciplinary knowledge to the more tech side of the university,” Epperson said. “It also helps increase our own visibility and value.”

To create the program, Epperson hired more faculty and created an executive committee to oversee its implementation. He got approval from the Provost, opened the required courses and worked with other departments, all while keeping the College of Liberal Arts fiscally stable in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Already in its second year, 170 students have registered for a minor within the STS Minors Program.

“STS probably would not exist in [its] current form without [Epperson],” STS Program Director Richard Besel said.

Epperson also oversees the 19 majors and various extracurriculars within the College of Liberal Arts.

According to Forensics Director Chris Skiles, Epperson took a personal interest in the well-being of the debate team. Epperson even emailed the finalists at an international debate tournament himself. Skiles also said Epperson is the first dean who actively voiced a lot of support for the debate team    and continually reached out to the team.

“Dean Epperson is really well respected when it comes to the opinion of the faculty,” Besel said. “I know that there are a lot of people who are going to miss him and his leadership. I think he is a very good dean.”

Epperson will retire near Zion National Park, enjoying the natural wonders of Utah’s Red Rock Country. Epperson said he will still find ways to remain connected to Cal Poly, despite being 400 miles away.

“It’s difficult to step away when your job is so rewarding and you love it, but transitions are inevitable,” Epperson said. “[Cal Poly] was a great place to be and to end one’s career on such a high note.”

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