Shoot, the dean…

Chico State University’s College of Business has lost its third dean in just four years, after Dalen Chiang revealed that he is resigning—and he’s not quite sure why.

Chiang, who came to Chico from Cleveland barely a year ago, will step down effective in January. He can still have a position on the faculty, if he wants.

“There were a few unsatisfied people” in the department, Chiang figures, and rather than go to him, they complained to the Provost’s Office. Next thing he knew, Chiang recalled amicably, “the management made the change: ‘Someone else is going to pinch-hit for you.'… It is political.”

In the search that resulted in Chiang’s hiring, the college had hoped to land a dean with staying power. After Arno Rethans resigned in 1998, Professor Marc Siegall served as interim dean until Heikki Rinne was hired and served a year and one-half before abruptly quitting to take a job in private industry.

This time, rather than launching another nationwide search like those that resulted in Rinne and then Chiang, Provost Scott McNall has asked business faculty and staff to recommend an internal candidate for the position of acting dean—someone who will possess more power than an interim dean and serve for a year and one-half to two years.

“[Chiang] is a man who I like a great deal, who I think has lots of great ideas,” McNall said. “He believes he can better use his energies and talents helping with our international programs and teaching his discipline.”

Chiang said he’d like to stay in Chico and continue developing the international programs for faculty and students. “Being a tenured full professor is a pretty nice life,” observed Chiang, who as dean had been working 12- to 14-hour days.

“I’m sort of surprised that it happened,” said Professor Jim Morgan, who counted Chiang as the seventh dean or interim dean the college has had in the past 20 years. Morgan said that, while Chiang seemed personable, no one really got to know him very well because he was often out securing dollars and developing programs.

The College of Business is up for reaccreditation in three years, and stability in administration is one of the criteria.

Chiang said he hopes that before a new dean is chosen, faculty members ask themselves, “What kind of dean do you really want?”

“I guess I didn’t ask the right questions when I came here to interview,” he said. “I wish everyone good luck.”

You must remember this

The dean shakeups are nothing compared to the controversy the College of Business saw four years ago. Remember Suleman Moosa, the Chico State finance and marketing professor best known for being on the payroll even as students refused to sign up for his classes? Moosa, frustrated at the lack of preparedness and intellect he saw in the crop of Chico students, was notorious for giving low grades. A few years ago, he published a two-volume manifesto—a “Critical Self-Study” that took the College of Business and the university to task for doling out undeserved grades and putting up with lackluster students.

President Manuel Esteban in 1998 temporarily demoted Moosa to associate professor, and Moosa struck back by contesting the demotion and then suing the university.

Much of Moosa’s argument was shot down in lower courts, but on Sept. 23 a California appellate court ruled that even though Moosa refused to submit an "improvement plan" as directed by his dean, that very directive was "invalid as a matter of law" because it was inconsistent with the terms of the faculty union’s contract. Thus, the court found, Moosa’s refusal to comply can’t be considered unprofessional conduct under the provisions of the state Education Code. "Professor Moosa’s demotion cannot stand," the court concluded.