California State University, Northridge computer science professor Steven Stepanek has been appointed to the California State University Board of Trustees by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Stepanek, currently chair of CSUN’s Department of Computer Science and faculty president, was appointed Oct. 25 by the governor to represent faculty interests on the 25-member board responsible for the oversight of the 23-campus CSU system. Stepanek’s appointment was effective immediately.
Stepanek is the first CSUN faculty member to be appointed to the board. He will be joining CSUN senior Talar Alexanian, vice president of Northridge’s Associated Students and the first Cal State Northridge student appointed to the CSU Board of Trustees. This is only the second time in CSU history that the faculty and student trustees have come from the same campus. The first time was in 1989, when the two trustees came from Fresno State.
“I think it’s a wonderful reflection on CSUN and on our faculty and students,” Stepanek said.
CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison lauded Stepanek’s appointment in an announcement to the university campus.
“The CSU Faculty Trustee fills a crucial role on the CSU Board because that person represents a vital constituency of the CSU — the faculty who are directly responsible for the scholarship, research and teaching that advances the central mission of the university,” Harrison wrote. “Yet the formal responsibility of this appointment also requires an ability to consider what is best for all constituencies in the CSU. Professor Stepanek’s record demonstrates that he can achieve this vital balance.”
Stepanek, 62, of Canoga Park, has spent more than 40 years as a member of the California State University community, specifically CSUN. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Northridge in 1974 and his master’s degree in computer science in 1980.
Stepanek has been working in Cal State Northridge’s Department of Computer Science since 1976, first as a lecturer and then as a full-time professor, having earned tenure in 1984. He has spent the past 14 years as chair of the department. He has been a member of the CSUN Faculty Senate since 1994 and was elected to its executive committee for most of those years. He has also spent the past eight years as a member of the CSU statewide Academic Senate and has served on several statewide committees.
Stepanek said he was surprised when Gov. Brown personally called him last week to interview him prior to the appointment.
“We discussed issues involving higher education in the state of California,” he said. “We also discussed to some extent what the proper role technology should play in higher education.”
As an active faculty member on the CSUN campus, Stepanek has played a key role in incorporating the use of technology, including online classes, into the university’s curriculum. He said that experience will come in handy as the CSU board tackles the governor’s desire to increase the use of technology within the system.
“Technology in higher education is clearly one of the governor’s priorities and will be something that will come before the board,” he said.
Stepanek’s appointment to the CSU Board of Trustees is for two years and is a full-time position. In addition to attending CSU trustee meetings, Stepanek will also be traveling to CSU campuses across the state to meet with faculty about issues important to them.
Given the demands of his new post, Stepanek said he will be stepping down as chair of Department of Computer Science and as CSUN faculty president at the end of the current semester.
“But CSUN will always be my home base,” he said. “When I am not traveling, I will be here. I want to stay connected with the campus. It’ll help me keep grounded and I the knowledge I gain at CSUN and from my visits to other CSU campuses will assist me in carrying out my responsibilities on the board.”