April 5, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Kaia Tollefson has agreed to serve as permanent Chief of Staff, effective immediately. Dr. Tollefson has served in the role of Interim Chief of Staff since January 2021, following 15 years of service in CSUCI’s School of Education.

Dr. Tollefson arrived at CSUCI in Fall 2006 as an assistant professor, was promoted and tenured to associate professor in Fall 2010 and gained full professorship in Fall 2016. While in the School of Education, she taught a variety of undergraduate, credential, and graduate courses; served as Accreditation Coordinator in 2008-2009 and as the School’s Associate Director in 2009-2010; co-led the Annual Conference for Social Justice in Education from 2008-2019; directed our first HSI Title V grant, Project Vista, from 2010-2015; and created and edited the CSUCI Online Journal Systems publication, Allies 4 Education. She was a founding member of the President’s Advisory Council for Inclusive Excellence in Fall 2018 and served on a wide variety of Senate and University committees and task forces.

Dr. Tollefson’s professional experiences have added such depth and expertise to the Chief of Staff role, and her accomplishments as Interim Chief of Staff during the past year are too many to recognize in this message. Most notably, Dr. Tollefson led the qualitative analyses that informed our Inclusive Excellence Action Plan Framework (IEAP) and its subsequent implementation, including the recent budgetary awards through the Strategic Resource Planning Committee.

Dr. Tollefson has also led our coordinated efforts to build upon and strengthen CSUCI’s relationship with local Chumash peoples including the Sat’wiwa Restoration; the development of a Cultural Resources Management Team that will focus on identifying, protecting, and mitigating damage to archaeological/cultural heritage sites on our campus, and the evolution of the President’s Chumash Advisory Council.

In March 2021, I charged Dr. Tollefson with constituting and facilitating a Cross-Divisional Communications Group (CDCG), comprised of operational leads across all divisions, to facilitate consistent communications about our campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDCG has been instrumental in facilitating consistency in communications about case counts, public health guidelines, on-campus testing and vaccine clinics, behavioral mitigation strategies, and compliance issues.

Moving forward, Communication & Marketing and Institutional Research will continue to report into the Office of the President, and these vitally important programs will be added to Dr. Tollefson’s portfolio as she shares my understanding that improving communication and continuing our data-informed practices is integral to the success of our campus.

Dr. Tollefson’s leadership is so greatly appreciated, and I am confident that her expertise, healthy communication dynamics, and deep appreciation and dedication to CSUCI will contribute to the continued growth and evolution of the Chief of Staff role and our broader campus community as we move into our third decade.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Tollefson on her appointment.

Richard Yao, Ph.D.

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