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New CSUB Provost named
June 23, 2005
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456 or


Soraya M. Coley, a senior research fellow at the National Center for Substance Abuse and Child Welfare/Children and Family Futures in Irvine, has been named the new provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Bakersfield.

Coley’s appointment, effective Aug. 1, was announced today by CSUB President Horace Mitchell. She will be the first woman to serve as a vice president at CSUB.

“I said at the beginning of the search process that this would be the most important appointment I make as president,” Mitchell said. “I am very pleased to announce Dr. Coley’s selection. She was selected following a national search in which we were assisted by a leading executive search firm.”

Five finalists, chosen by a search committee comprised of faculty, cabinet members, staff and students, were brought to the campus for final interviews for the campus’s No. 2 administrative post. Community members were involved in the campus visits for all five finalists.

“Dr. Coley brings a wealth of experience within the CSU as well as experience in the position of provost and vice president for academic affairs,” Mitchell said. “She has the experience, vision and commitment to assist us in realizing our new CSUB vision.”

Coley will succeed Jim George, a founding faculty member at CSUB who is retiring after 35 years at the university, the last three as provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Coley earned her doctorate in social planning and policy from the Bryn Mawr College School of Social Work and Social Research in 1981. She received her master of social work from Bryn Mawr in 1974, and earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1972.

Upon receiving her doctorate, she joined the faculty at CSU Fullerton in the Department of Human Services, and served as department chair from 1991 to 1993. She was an administrative fellow in CSU Fullerton’s Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs from 1994 to 1996, and served as dean of CSU Fullerton’s College of Human Development and Community Service from 1996 to 2001. CSU Fullerton accorded her emeritus status in 2001.

She left Fullerton to become provost and vice president for academic affairs at Alliant International University in San Francisco, where she served from 2001 to 2003.

Coley has a long history of community and civic involvement. Among her many civic affiliations are the Bay Area Black United Fund Board of Directors, the Children and Family Futures Board of Directors, the Orange County United Way, the St. Jude Medical Center Advisory Board, the Family Preservation and Family Support Program for Vietnamese Families in Orange County, the Orange County Urban League and the Advisory Council to Orange County American Red Cross.

The Soraya M. Coley Award for Faculty Service to the Community at Lincoln University is named in her honor and given yearly to a faculty member who contributes significantly to the community.

She is the recipient of the Crystal Elephant, CSU Fullerton’s highest honor bestowed for “outstanding service as the dean of the College of Human Development and Community Service.” She was named “One of 10 Women Making a Difference” by Orange County Metro Magazine in 2000. She is listed in “Who’s Who Among Human Service Professionals.”

Her professional associations include the MLE Program Alumni of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the millennium leadership class of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of Social Workers.

Coley said “I am very thrilled” to be coming to CSUB. “One of the things that really appeals to me is the president’s and the campus’s bold vision that will not only benefit CSUB, but also benefit the entire CSU system.

The receptivity when I visited the campus, listening to the hopes and aspirations of the senate leadership, the deans, faculty, staff and students, resonated with my own professional goals and aspirations.

“Also being able to join with the president and other vice presidents, faculty, staff and students in helping to shape a new era in academic excellence is very exciting,” she continued. “I see myself as not only helping create the parameters around an academic-affairs framework that will help us move toward the strategic directions that will support the vision, but also being able to establish discernable measurements that will monitor our continuous evolution toward that vision.

“I really felt very energized by the campus. I know that as in any organization there will be challenges, but building an environment of mutual respect and trust between all the campus stakeholders is work that I’m excited about doing. I think the diversity of the community becomes an asset. We work earnestly to extend those CSU values of retaining access and creating opportunities. Youth look to institutions such as ours to help create a future, and help mold a future in which they will experience economic and social wellbeing, and that’s the passion that I have about being a part of higher education.”

She also said she is looking forward to being part of the new leadership at CSUB. “Certainly being able to work with and be part of a team such as President Mitchell has at CSUB is also exciting. His leadership and vision and passion for really creating educational opportunities for everyone, including the underrepresented, has been a hallmark of his career. So to be a part of his team is, for me, exciting.”

Coley’s appointment was met with enthusiasm by members of the campus community.

B.J. Moore, a professor in the Department of Policy and Public Administration and chair of the CSUB Academic Senate, said she was very pleased with Coley’s appointment. “The executive committee of the Academic Senate met with her and are really excited about working with her,” she said. “She has some very interesting ideas about shared governance and bringing the campus community together, and that’s not something we hear from administrators every day. She’s very personable, very articulate. She has lots of experience, and knows the CSU, so it will be easy for her to make the transition. She’s very community oriented, and she was excited about how we value community involvement here. She said, ‘When you all talk about community and community involvement, I believe that you really mean it.’”

George, the retiring provost, said Coley was a most capable choice. “She is uniquely prepared to step right in and complement President Mitchell’s vision,” he said. “She has experience as a dean and provost at diverse institutions. She has the best leadership training for administrators of higher education.

“The community will really enjoy our new provost,” he continued. “She has a winning personality and smile, and her record to this point is for extensive community involvement, and with all elements in the community.

Community leaders will find her easy to work with. She’s a wonderful listener, and knowledgeable about Bakersfield. She sees the challenges and Bakersfield’s great future and is anxious to assist in this community’s economic, cultural and educational development.

“In her administrative positions, she has compiled an enviable record as a champion of faculty, and she is committed to collegial governance. Our faculty, during the interview process, were very impressed with that record and the promise of her leadership on this campus.”

Mike Neal, CSUB vice president of business and administrative services, and a member of the search committee, felt Coley would fit right in at CSUB. “I think that Dr. Coley brings tremendous credentials with a track record that will enable her to join the team to move the campus toward its new vision,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with her as part of the leadership team of the university. Her experiences are diverse in not only having CSU experience, but also private university experience which will enable her to bring a fresh look at what we’ve done and what we plan to do to move the university forward.”

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