Cal Poly Announces Scott Dawson to Return as Orfalea College of Business Dean

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly announced today that former Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson will return to the position effective June 1.

“We are pleased that Scott will return as part of our leadership team and that the Orfalea College of Business’ students, faculty and staff will once again benefit from his visionary leadership and commitment to Learn by Doing,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong.

Dawson led the Orfalea College of Business from August 2014 until November 2016, when he stepped down after the loss of his wife, Bridget, in a bicycling accident in July. He returned to Portland, Oregon, to be near family and friends.

Provost Kathleen Enz Finken appointed associate dean Kevin Lertwachara as interim dean effective Nov. 1 and convened a search committee to recruit a new permanent dean. However, before any candidate interviews took place, Dawson reached out to Cal Poly to express his interest in returning.

After consulting with and receiving the support of both the search committee and the California State University’s interim vice chancellor for human resources, Armstrong and Enz Finken decided to cancel the recruitment and appoint Dawson to the dean’s position.

“We continue to believe that Scott is the right person to lead the Orfalea College of Business and build upon its successes, and we are thrilled that we will have him back on campus.” Enz Finken said. “We offer our thanks to the members of the search committee for their time and energy. We are also grateful to Kevin Lertwachara for his thoughtful leadership during this interim period.”

Lertwachara, an information systems professor, will continue to serve as interim dean until June and then will return to his role as associate dean for the college’s undergraduate programs when Dawson returns.

Dawson first joined the Orfalea College of Business after nearly 30 years at Portland State University’s School of Business. He served multiple roles as a marketing professor and associate dean, eventually becoming dean in 2000.

Dawson earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Oregon. He holds a master’s in business administration and a doctorate from the University of Arizona.

About the Orfalea College of Business
Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business prepares career-ready, global business leaders through the university’s Learn by Doing philosophy. The undergraduate program offers a polytechnic education in a broad range of disciplines in business administration, economics, and industrial technology and packaging. The college also offers master’s degrees in business administration, business analytics, accounting, taxation and economics. It is one of six academic colleges at Cal Poly, a nationally ranked, four-year comprehensive public university located in San Luis Obispo, Calif. For more information, go to

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