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Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business (OCOB) has chosen Scott Dawson as its new dean, and economics chair Steve Hamilton said he will be a dean unlike any the college has had before.
Dawson’s outward focus — his ability to build relationships with businesses and industries outside the university — was an attribute the OCOB wanted to take advantage of, and one it had not previously had in a dean, Hamilton said. Having someone who can go out and build relationships with alumni and companies is something the college needs, Hamilton said.
“Dawson is very good at it and enjoys it, so we saw that opportunity,” Hamilton said.
Cal Poly engages in real-world, practical research, Hamilton said. This kind of research is directly applicable to projects and goals that businesses have.
Alumni engagement is also important to the OCOB. Dawson said he sees himself spending time in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, connecting with alumni.
Hamilton also highlighted Dawson’s success at developing graduate and international programs and his many years of experience as dean of Portland State University’s business school as important factors in his selection.
Dawson said Cal Poly is entering a new era, and leadership under the new president and deans presents a unique opportunity.
“I just think there are tremendous opportunities to move the school forward,” Dawson said.
These opportunities were what drew him to the job at Cal Poly, Dawson said.
Dawson declined to go into specific details about what he plans to do once he gets on campus, saying he did not want to create expectations before having a chance to familiarize himself with the university.
However, Dawson did identify some attributes the OCOB could take advantage of.
Cal Poly’s packaging program has enormous potential, Dawson said. He said he also sees opportunities for partnerships with the school’s wine programs and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
Dawson said he can assist with Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong’s goal of increasing the amount of international students at Cal Poly. Dawson described a recent trip he made for Portland State, during which he joined a student group in Shanghai, fundraised in Jakarta and met with alumni in Kuwait.
Dawson’s official first day on the job is Aug. 1, but he has already made a second trip to the university after the presentation he gave in March and met many members of the faculty and staff, he said.
Dawson was selected by a committee including Hamilton, one member of the staff and a student. There were also representatives from outside the college. Choosing Dawson was a unanimous decision, Hamilton said.