The president of CSU Channel Islands was named Thursday the successor to retiring Cal State Northridge President Dianne Harrison.
Erika D. Beck will take over the CSUN presidency Jan. 11. Her selection was announced Thursday morning by the California State University Board of Trustees.
“From the robust academic programs to inspirational athletic competition to the expansive opportunities for arts and culture, I am inspired by the impact that CSUN has in shaping the face of the San Fernando Valley and beyond,” Beck said. “While it is bittersweet to leave CSU Channel Islands where working together with faculty, staff, students and community we have made significant progress, I am thankful for this opportunity to join the talented CSUN faculty, staff and students to ensure that all Matadors rise.”
While president of CSUCI, Beck championed the campus’ vision to become a national leader in providing equitable, affordable and transformative education, she said. CSUCI placed at the top of many recent national rankings including those issued by U.S. News & World Report, Money and Washington Monthly. The campus’ four-year graduation rate for first-year students also reached an all-time high and last year was recognized as one of nine institutions in the nation with the prestigious Seal of Excelencia for its accomplishments in facilitating LatinX student success.
“Her extensive knowledge of the CSU and California ensures that she will build on the successful work of outgoing CSUN President Dianne Harrison,” said CSU Trustee Debra Farar, chair of the CSUN search committee.
Prior to her appointment as the third president of CSU Channel Islands in 2016, Beck served as provost and executive vice president at Nevada State College, where she was a leader and founding faculty member who helped build the campus from the ground up.
Beck holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC San Diego; a master’s in psychology from San Diego State University; and a doctorate in experimental psychology from the UCSD, where she also served as a faculty fellow. A former research associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Beck has conducted research in the areas of developmental psychopathology and cognitive neuroscience.
The California native and mother of two also sits on the Ventura P-20 Council and the Santa Barbara Zoo Board of Directors. She is an honorary board member of the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation.
She was selected as a Woman of the Year by the California Women’s Caucus, one of the Top 50 Women in Business by the Pacific Coast Business Times, a Woman of Distinction in Education by the National Association of Women in Business Leaders, and a Top Female Business Leader in Education by the Las Vegas Business Press.
Harrison, who has been leading CSUN since 2012, announced last November that she would be retiring at the end of June 2020. But the onset of the coronavirus pandemic prompted her and to delay her retirement. She is now set to retire at the end of the year.
Harrison became president CSUN’s fifth president in June 2012, after serving six years as president of Cal State Monterey Bay, where she was the first woman to lead the campus. Before that, she spent nearly 30 years at Florida State University, serving as a faculty member, dean, associate vice president and vice president for academic quality and external programs.
In her retirement announcement last November, she hailed increases in the CSUN graduation and student-retention rates, the hiring of a chief diversity officer and the creation of a Commission on Diversity & Inclusion “to support an inclusive learning environment.” She also touted record levels of donations, improved involvement by alumni, plans for a hotel on campus and efforts to improve mass transit access.
Also set to retire over the summer was CSU Chancellor Timothy White and Cal State East Bay President Leroy Morishita, who delayed their departures as well.
The CSU Trustees on Thursday also announced that Cathy Sandeen, who has been serving as the chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage, will replace Morishita at Cal State East Bay. Joseph Castro, president of Fresno State University, was announced last month as the new CSU chancellor, and he will take over the job Jan. 4.
The Board of Trustees is expected to vote Thursday morning on salary packages for Beck and Sandeen. Harrison’s salary at CSUN is $378,138. Morishita’s salary is $353,853.
The three highest-paid presidents in the CSU system are Adela de la Torre for San Diego with a salary of $454,749; Jeffery Armstrong for San Luis Obispo with $442,812 annually; and Mary A. Papazian for San Jose at $403,433.
White’s salary of $477,771 makes him the highest paid executive as he oversees the 23-campus system.
Beyond salaries, those positions typically also include other benefits, including housing.