Vice President for Student Affairs Finalist Campus Visits
Dear campus community,
As a follow-up to my previous message announcing that the Vice President for Student Affairs search committee had identified three finalists for this important position, I am pleased to provide this update that the three individuals below have accepted our invitation to visit CSUSM as the next step in our search process. As an important part of their visits, an open forum with the campus community will be held for each candidate. I hope that you can attend and participate in this phase of the search process by sharing your thoughts and perceptions about each finalist to help us recommend the best possible candidate for this position. If you are unable to join us for the in-person forum, there will be video recorded for later viewing so that everyone has an opportunity to provide feedback.
Abbreviated bios for each candidate are listed below, and additional details about their campus visits, including dates, forum video recordings and online feedback forms, are available online at: https://www.csusm.edu/president/leadership/search-vpsa.html.
Leon Wyden Jr.
Chair, Vice President for Student Affairs Search Committee
Vice president, Finance and Administrative Services
Evette Castillo Clark
Campus open forum: Monday, Dec. 6, 1-1:50 p.m.
Kellogg Library Reading Room or https://csusm.zoom.us/j/87493766923
Feedback form: https://www.research.net/r/VYB8FWJ
Dr. Evette Castillo Clark serves as the associate vice president for Student Life and Dean of Students at Saint Mary's College of California, overseeing a large majority of traditional student affairs units and strengthening intentional campuswide partnerships and structures with key stakeholders for student success. Dr. Clark also chairs the institution’s Bias Incident Response Team, Behavioral Intervention Team and Student Success Committee, as well as serving as the college’s Title IX deputy and chief conduct officer. Since 1993, she has worked in student affairs administration at the University of San Francisco; University of California, Berkeley; Cal State East Bay; San Diego State; and Tulane University. Dr. Clark also served as a faculty member in the School of Education at the University of New Orleans.
Leading and educating with energy and passion, Dr. Clark has held leadership oversight of student conduct, state and federal compliance, crisis and emergency management, campus housing, residence life, living learning communities, student activities, leadership, student governments, fraternity/sorority life, late-night programming, intercultural centers, orientation, student transitions and parent/family programs, center for women and gender equity, events and conferences, testing and assessment, graduate student affairs, community-based service learning, bookend ceremonies such as convocation and commencement planning, student affairs staff development, strategic planning, retention, and academic advising.
She has served on the board of directors for NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education), the National Academic Advising Association and the ACE Women’s Network Northern California. The NASPA Asian Pacific Islander Knowledge Community honored her in 2017 with the Doris Michiko Ching Shattering the Glass Ceiling Award for her student affairs leadership, scholarship and service. In 2021, Dr. Clark was honored with the NASPA Pillars of the Profession award. A second-generation Filipina, wife and mother of four, she received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UC Irvine, a master’s degree in student personnel administration in higher education from New York University and a doctorate in international and multicultural education at the University of San Francisco.
Campus open forum: Tuesday, Dec. 7, 1-1:50 p.m.
Kellogg Library Reading Room or https://csusm.zoom.us/j/81813015414
Feedback form: https://www.research.net/r/V22G7WR
Dr. Cynthia Avery has over 30 years of experience in a variety of areas within student affairs. She has worked in and overseen the following areas: community service learning, cross-cultural/multicultural centers, fraternity and sorority life, graduate student life, leadership programs, military and veterans programs, orientation, outdoor programs, parent relations, residential education, recreation, staff development, student activities, student conduct, student government, student unions, and a women’s center. Dr. Avery believes that institutions have an ethical and moral imperative to ensure the retention and graduation of the students they admit. As such, she is a fierce advocate for student success, including the utilization of both quantitative and qualitative data as well as available technologies to develop initiatives designed to assist students in meeting their potential. Dr. Avery is passionate about the role of higher education in social mobility, as she has witnessed the impact a college education has had within her own family.
A New York native, Dr. Avery has a bachelor’s in management science from SUNY Geneseo, a Master of Science in Education in college student development from Alfred University in New York and a doctorate in educational leadership from UC San Diego, Cal State San Marcos and San Diego State. Most of Dr. Avery’s experience has been at mid-to-large-sized public institutions, including SUNY Albany (five years), the University of Georgia (five years) and San Diego State (eight years). Since August 2008, Dr. Avery has served as the assistant vice president for Student Affairs at the University of San Diego. Dr. Avery wants to return to her roots at a public, regionally based anchor institution, where the relationship between university and community is vibrant and mutually beneficial.
Campus open forum: Wednesday, Dec. 8, 1-1:50 p.m.
Kellogg Library Reading Room or https://csusm.zoom.us/j/86766428510
Feedback form: https://www.research.net/r/V2XFXDR
Dr. Viridiana Diaz has been in the field of higher education for the past 20 years and serves as the associate vice president of Strategic Student Support Programs at Sacramento State. She has dedicated her professional career to creating a more inclusive campus for historically marginalized students, including low-income, first-generation, students of color, undocumented and immigrant, LGBTQIA+, transfer and adult learners. The programs she leads offer seamless support for students from recruitment through graduation and beyond, including admission and outreach, academic advising, financial advising, career counseling, experiential and work-based learning, leadership development, early warning systems, health and counseling services, tutoring, mentoring, peer-based support and population-specific interventions.
Dr. Diaz serves as one of the primary vehicles for leveraging student success initiatives, breaking down systemic barriers to success, tending to equity gaps and achieving the goals set forth by the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025 through program development, implementation, assessment, project management and fundraising. During her tenure at Sacramento State, she has helped secure over $15 million through public, private and foundation grants, gifts, the cultivation of relationships with individual donors and planned/estate giving, and she has raised over $200,000 for scholarships and emergency grants. Beyond her professional experience, her background as a low-income, first-generation, English-learner student gives her a unique perspective on the academic and external factors necessary to establish inclusive, supportive and culturally relevant environments aimed at promoting student success and social mobility.
Dr. Diaz holds a bachelor's in communication studies, a master’s in Spanish, a second master's in history and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from Sacramento State. She is also a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Executive Leadership Academy, Stanford’s Executive Leadership Management Institute and the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education. She served as a fellow in the 2020-2021 Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Leadership Academy and is currently a fellow in the 2021-2022 American Leadership Forum Chapter's Class of XXV.