California State University, Long Beach
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Taking A Shine To “The Beach”

Published: August 22, 2016

In his first six weeks on campus, Provost Brian Jersky has seen first-hand that CSULB is at a wonderful point in its history and poised to rise to even greater heights.

“We’re already at this level where the university is shining and to make it shine more is a much easier thing to do,” said Jersky, who officially began his new duties on July 1. “Long Beach is an example of what the CSU can do. We take in people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to get an escalator up into the middle class. We’re saying, ‘We trust you, we know you’ve got the skills and desire, and we can make it happen together.’”

Jersky quickly acknowledged that his predecessor David Dowell, who oversaw CSULB reaching all-time highs in both graduation rates and the number of students earning degrees annually, has left big shoes to fill. But, he noted, he also left things in very good shape.

“The transition’s been great,” he said. “Long Beach is such a great place and there are so many good things here that it’s quite easy to think about building up to the next level. Dr. Dowell left a very solid foundation and superstructure. I think the best thing he left was a really outstanding staff that can help me. Long Beach is one of the plum jobs in the system. I am so proud and honored to be here, working with the faculty and staff to continue building on the quality and excellence of our institutional degrees.

“I’m a statistician by trade and am reasonably proficient with numbers, but that’s not the focus of the university,” he continued. “Data is a tool to help you get to a place. It’s a means to an end. Universities are value institutions, not data institutions.”

Jersky came to CSULB after spending the previous four years as the dean of the College of Science at Cal Poly Pomona. He previously was a faculty member in the statistics department at Macquarie University (2010-11) in Sydney, Australia; and dean of the School of Science at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga (2006-10). Jersky spent 15 years (1992-2006) at Sonoma State University serving in a variety of capacities including as a faculty member in the mathematics department, chair of mathematics and director of academic planning and resources in the School of Science and Technology.

All of those positions have aided him greatly in stepping into his new role.

“This is a much bigger role, but it’s also a familiar role because when you are a dean, you are working closely with the provost and you think how you would do things if you were in that position,” he said. “I was very well prepared by Dr. Dowell, President Conoley and all the people involved in the provost search. I feel ready and I feel very supported, which is really all you can ask for.”

Provost Brian Jersky
PHOTO BY KEVIN TRAN
Provost Brian Jersky

Jersky recognizes the importance of having the right faculty and staff, all of whom are focused on students, across the university.

“Students have to know that when they go into a class, that they are getting the best instruction, they need to know the grounds are safe and the dorms are good places to live,” he added. “Yes, we all have our own responsibilities, but in the end, everyone’s focus should be the students. We’ve got to make sure that everyone feels they’re needed and supported, and if we can do that, then the rest follows.”

The best part of the job, he said, is the people—the students, faculty and staff.

And the worst part? The constraints that make it difficult for the campus to achieve what it wants to achieve.

“But, that also inspires us to do good things with what we have,” he said.