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Cal Poly CLA News

The latest online edition of CLA's Impact Magazine

Fall Town Hall 2020

Fall Planning Resources

Roadmap Website previewPlanning for the quarter ahead? Cal Poly’s Roadmap can help point you in the right direction. Students, parents, faculty and staff can find links to virtual resources and updates on campus operations you’ll need for a successful fall.

General Faculty and Staff Resources

From RPT policies to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion modules, CLA-specific faculty and staff resources can be found here

Diversity Action Plan

CLA Diversity Action Plan cover pageBoth data-driven, and vetted by members of our diversity community, the CLA's Diversity Action Plan will guide us for the next five years as we work toward creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive college across several fronts. View the Diversity Action Plan.




Department Chairs

CLA Department Chair rosterView the 2020-21 department chair roster.




New Faculty and Staff

The College of Liberal Arts is excited to welcome the following new faculty and staff to Cal Poly.

New Tenure-Track Faculty

Linh Dao
Assistant Professor, Art and Design
Specialty: Design/Visual Communication

Ramón Esquivel
Assistant Professor, Theatre and Dance
Specialty: Creative Writing/Playwriting  

Jessica Lee
Assistant Professor, Social Sciences
Specialty: Sociology

Casey McDonald
Associate Professor, Journalism
Specialty: Public Relations

Allison Myers
Assistant Professor, Art and Design
Specialty: Art History

Ahmed Sagarwala
Assistant Professor, Graphic Communication
Specialty: Digital Media

Jesús Serrano-Careaga 
Assistant Professor, Psychology and Child Development
Specialty: Social Psychology

Jacob Sparks
Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Specialty: Philosophy/Ethics and Ethical Theory

Robert Wallace
Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Specialty: Philosophy/Metaphysics

Ava Wright
Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Specialty: Philosophy/Ethics and Ethical Theory

Hocheol Yang
Assistant Professor, Graphic Communication
Specialty: Mass Communication

New Staff

Krysia Hall
ASC, Interdisciplinary Studies 

Jen Jacobsen
ASA, Political Science

Denna Zamarron
ASC, History

New Lecturers

Full-time Lecturers 

Darvell Hutchins - Communication Studies Department

Erin Zamora - Communication Studies Department

Brett Savage - Political Science Department

James Ward, Visiting Professor - Political Science Department

Part-time Lecturers

Madeleine Ignon – Art & Design Department

Danielle O'leary – Communication Studies

Caleb Nichols – English Department

Isabel Garcia – English Department

Katrina Prow – English Department

Jamie Ding – Ethnic Studies Department

Brian Stephens – Ethnic Studies Department

Claudia Lodia – Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts Department 

Alba Cancél Bigay – Music Department

Laura Gaynon – Music Department

Michael Whitson – Music Department

Paul Woodring – Music Department

James Anthony – Psychology & Child Development Department

Kathleen Helm – Theatre & Dance Department

Hala Baki – Theatre & Dance Department

New Promotions and Tenure

Promotion to Professor or Librarian

Brett Bodemer (Academic Services)

Fernando Sánchez (World Languages & Cultures)

Promotion to Associate Professor

Martin Battle (Political Science)

Bethany Conway-Silva (Communication Studies)

Jennifer Denbow (Political Science)

Ryan Hatch (English)

Lauren Kolodziejski (Communication Studies)

Silvia Marijuan (World Languages & Cultures)

Chelsea Milbourne (English)

Mira Rosenthal (English)


Martin Battle (Political Science)

Coleen Carrigan (Social Sciences)

Jennifer Denbow (Political Science)

Sara Frantz (Art & Design)

Ryan Hatch (English)

Ryan Jenkins (Philosophy)

Lauren Kolodziejski (Communication Studies)

Chelsea Milbourne (English)

Taylor Smith (Psychology & Child Development)

Dean's Office Contacts


  • Debra Valencia-Laver — Associate Dean for Administration
    Debra handles lecturer and staff recruitment, hiring, and evaluations; teaching allocations and course enrollment tracking; summer term planning; technical and space needs; travel and assigned time, and more.
  • Penny Bennett — Associate Dean for Student Success
    Penny is responsible for student-related issues such as academic advising, academic probation/disqualification, change of major, graduation initiatives, new admissions/re-admissions or any other issues related to academic success. This can include updates and clarification of policies and procedures as well as coordination and processing of a variety of forms that include substitution forms, grade change forms and many more.
  • Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti — Associate Dean for Diversity and Curriculum
    Jennifer’s job is focused on all initiatives related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in the college. In addition, she is responsible for all curriculum issues in the college, including development of new courses, programs or minors, course and program edits, and the curriculum process at large. She also supervises and runs the Intergroup Dialogues program and course.
  • Josh Machamer — CLA Director of International Initiatives
    Josh provides leadership for the support, development and advancement of internationalization efforts in the college, currently including: coordination of current and new international initiatives; building capacity in emerging areas of direct and virtual exchange; communication of internationalization opportunities/development for students, faculty and staff. Email Josh.
  • Dawn Neill — CLA Director of Research Engagement
    As the inaugural Director of Research Engagement, Dawn will provide information, guidance, and support to faculty and students across areas of scholarship and creative activities within the CLA.  Her main goals for the upcoming year include expanding awareness of opportunities, enhancing a culture of scholarship, promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, and broadening access to resources to support scholarly engagement. Email Dawn. 

Administrative Support

  • Heidi Velasco — Receptionist
    Heidi oversees the daily operations of the Dean's Office and is the primary contact for phone calls and office visitors which include students, staff, faculty, parents, and community members.  Heidi also coordinates several College of Liberal Arts and campus events throughout the year.
  • Lynne Ricard — Assistant to the Dean
    Lynne provides administrative support for the dean, which includes all scheduling. She assists the three associate deans with calendaring appointments, committee meeting preparation, scheduling, agendas, minutes, communications from the dean and more. She also provides planning coordination for several college-wide events.
  • Margie Valine — Faculty Recruitment and Contract Analyst
    Margie processes all Tenure Track hire letters and documents; monitors contracts and offers for part-time lecturers and works closely with the budget analyst and associate dean to review workload and assigned time for faculty in the college. She also works closely with the CLA Tech team as their administrative support.
  • Melissa Bodin — Faculty Analyst and Staff Evaluations
    Melissa manages/coordinates all retention, tenure, promotion, post-tenure and lecturer evaluations. She helps faculty with development of their Interfolio Working Personnel Action File (eWPAF), answers all evaluation related questions during the review process, and processes all dean’s funded travel.
  • Joy Sisler — Finance and Budget Analyst
    Joy provides strategic direction and oversight of the state budget, expendable foundation funds, endowment funds and fee-based corporation funds. She serves as a primary resource in the college for budgeting, accounting, payroll, procurement, auditing and financial support.

CLA Development

  • Adam Jarman — Assistant Dean for Development 
    Adam is responsible for creating and maintaining external relationships and partnerships with alumni, donors, parents, friends and other supporters of CLA. As the college’s fundraiser, he is the primary point of contact for all philanthropic activity.
  • Debi Schwartz — Administrative Coordinator for Advancement
    Debi processes all incoming gifts received through department offices, sends weekly donor acknowledgement reports to chairs, works with department ASCs to obtain donor information, processes department advisory board member nominee submissions, and is the contact for any donor/alumni record (information) updates. 

CLA Communications

  • Rachel Schultz — Communication Specialist
    Rachel oversees production of the college magazine titled “Impact,” the “Quarterly Brief,” and weekly college announcements. She works with University Marketing and Communications to promote CLA-related awards and events to the campus community and the media. Contact her to share stories of faculty, alumni or student success.

CLA Advising

The CLA Advising Center is available to help undergraduate students with a wide range of topics, including academic advising/planning, registration, understanding academic polices and procedures, change of major and general student success. We encourage students to meet with an advisor at least once a year to ensure good progress towards graduation.

CLA Computer Support/IT Services

The CLA Tech Team is committed to providing expert information resources and technology support services to CLA faculty, staff, and students. We keep current with campus and CSU policies and procedures, especially with regard to data security, and provide hardware, software, infrastructure, and web accessibility support in accordance with these policies and procedures. 

CLA Campus Connections  

  • Brett Bodemer — CLA Librarian
    You can basically ask Brett anything library-related, and he will direct you to the right place. He provides course-related library instruction, and supports students and faculty alike through individual consultations. Email Brett. 
  • Laura Hunkler— CLA Career Counselor
    Laura spends much of her time meeting 1:1 with students helping with anything from exploring career possibilities to the job or grad school application process. She is also available for classroom presentations on topics such as job/internship search, career exploration, building connections, and writing resumes. Email Laura.
  • Taylor Law — CLA Employer Developer 
    Taylor spends her time researching potential employers, doing outreach, and meeting with employers looking to hire College of Liberal Arts students. She helps facilitate communication between departments and employers, as well as collaborates employer events. Email Taylor.
  • Steve Lerian — Cal Poly Arts Director
    Cal Poly Arts provides most of the professional touring performances at the Performing Arts Center and in Spanos Theatre, including national tours of Broadway shows, renowned music artists, dance companies, comedy, family programs, speakers’ series, and Met Live in HD simulcasts from the Metropolitan Opera. With our full-time staff of five, we typically present 40-50 live events each year. However, with no end to restrictions on public gatherings in sight, it’s unclear how many of our scheduled performances we’ll be able to bring to campus this year. In response to that uncertainty, watch for a number of online and alternate location event options that we will announce as the year unfolds. Email Steve.

Faculty and Staff Awards

Watch videos celebrating the 2019-20 award winners.

Staff Awards

  • Outstanding Staff Award for Career Achievement: Jeff Yeackle (CLA Tech)
  • Outstanding Staff Award for Continuing Excellence: Whitney Haas (Art and Design)

Faculty Awards

  • Early Career Award for Achievement in Teaching: Kelly Bennion (Psychology and Child Development)
  • Early Career Award for Achievement in Scholarship: Jenell Navarro (Ethnic Studies)
  • Early Career Award for Achievement in Service: Jenell Navarro (Ethnic Studies)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Teaching by a Lecturer: Anne Regan (English)
  • Diversity Award: Grace Yeh (Communication Studies and Ethnic Studies)
  • Douglas L. Epperson Innovation Award: Catherine Waitinas (English)

Faculty Award in Memoriam

  • Outstanding Achievement in Teaching by a Lecturer: Teresa Downing (Social Sciences)

Richard K. Simon Awards

  • Outstanding Career Achievement in Teaching: Joel Orth (History)
  • Outstanding Career Achievement in Scholarship: Robert Schaeffer (Social Sciences)
  • Outstanding Career Achievement in Service: Kathryn Rummell (English)

Congratulations to the 2019-20 faculty and staff award winners! 

Health and Wellbeing Resources

Mandated Use of Face Coverings

As of June 18, 2020, the California Department of Public Health has mandated that people must wear face coverings when outside their homes in specific circumstances. There are also exceptions to the new rules. The state mandate applies to the Cal Poly campus.

Visit the Prevention page for an overview of situations when face coverings should be used on campus, and some of the exemptions that may apply to Cal Poly community members.

COVID-19 Information

Please visit the official Cal Poly coronavirus website often for critical updates and advisories.

Public Health Resources

Mental Health Resources

Faculty and staff can contact the Employee Assistance Program for confidential counseling services (available to employees and their families) at 800-367-7474, or visit

Cal Poly students can contact Cal Poly’s Counseling Services and 24/7 hotline at 805-756-2511.

Basic Needs for Students

Visit Cal Poly's Basic Needs website for food and housing resources. It includes information on the Cal Poly Food Pantry, Cal Poly Cares Grant, CalFresh Outreach, and more.


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