California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy P. White has appointed Richard Yao, Ph.D., to serve as interim president of California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI). Yao currently serves as CSUCI’s vice president for student affairs. Yao will assume the leadership of the university on January 11, 2021 with the departure of current CSUCI president Dr. Erika D. Beck, who will begin her new role as president of California State University, Northridge. Yao, who identifies as a Chinese Filipino American, becomes the first person of color to lead the campus.
“In speaking with campus and community stakeholders, a prevailing theme that emerged was the need to sustain the momentum Channel Islands is experiencing under President Beck, while ensuring that the academic achievement of the increasingly diverse student body continues,” said White. “Dr. Yao is highly regarded by faculty, staff, students and community members, and brings stability and insight to the campus at a critical time. He is fully committed to the four key areas of the campus’ Strategic Initiatives for 2018-23: Educational Excellence, Student Success, Inclusive Excellence, and Capacity & Sustainability. I am confident that Dr. Yao’s leadership will advance the commitment to students and community.”
Yao was appointed to the position of vice president for student affairs in 2018, and in that role he leads the campus’ functions including Campus Life; Housing & Residential Education; Student Affairs Assessment, Data and Evaluation; Retention, Outreach and Inclusive Student Services; and Associated Students, Inc.
“I am so humbled to have been chosen for the opportunity to lead this wonderful institution that makes such a profound impact on thousands throughout Ventura County and beyond,” said Yao. “I am excited to engage our faculty, staff, students and the community in this new role as we collectively work to build upon the strategic and innovative work of President Beck.”
Yao is a licensed clinical psychologist who joined CSUCI from Nevada State College where he was the founding Dean of Students and the chief student affairs officer. He previously served as a senior lecturer in psychology for eight years before his transition into student affairs. He had also served as Chair of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Student Affairs Council, a
group comprised of vice presidents of student affairs and other high-level administrators from across the state.
Yao earned a bachelor’s in Psychology and a master’s in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Illinois University, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara.
Yao is expected to serve in this role through June 30, 2022. CSU Trustees will begin a national search in the fall of next year for a permanent president to lead the campus beginning in July 2022.