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Serving others, finding solutions motivates new provost

CCSU Provost David Dauwalder (Photo by John Atashian)

By Loretta Waldman

Solving problems and helping others is a family tradition for newly appointed Provost David Dauwalder. Growing up in Arizona, he and his two brothers worked after school and on Saturdays in their father’s hardware store.

“He had a motto in his store, that if we don’t have it, we’ll get it,” recalled Dauwalder. “I think that really impacted me. I saw how that motto helped make the store successful”

Dauwalder has adopted the same motto to guide his own career. Within days of his arrival in mid-March, he was tackling problems and looking for ways to be of service. Instead of fussing over filling empty bookshelves in his office, Dauwalder got right to work on an already full “To Do” list that included preparing for tenure and promotion decisions and filling the first of three vacant dean positions.

“I do get a lot of satisfaction out of finding solutions and trying to get thing taken care of,” he says.  

As the university’s chief academic officer, he oversees and works with deans to allocate resources, develop curriculum, and manage personnel-related matters such as promotions, hiring, retention, and recruiting. Faculty development is another important aspect of the job.

“It’s about trying to support them and the kinds of things they are trying to achieve,” Dauwalder explains, “and making sure it matches up well with the direction the president is hoping to go and that it fits the goals of the state university system as well.”

Dauwalder came to Central from the University of the Pacific, where he had been interim dean of the Eberhardt School of Business. CCSU is not his first position in Connecticut. From 2006 to 2013, Dauwalder was provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs at the University of New Haven. He has also held provost and other senior administrative roles at Woodbury University, Central Washington University, and on two campuses in the California State University System.

Dauwalder began his career teaching junior high school business, civics, government, and history in Arizona. As an academic, he has focused on education and business. He was one of 77 applicants and four finalists for the position. He succeeds CCSU Provost Carl Lovitt. Dr. Susan Pease had been serving as interim provost.

Dauwalder enjoys the more collaborative atmosphere at public institutions of higher education, he says. At the same time, he understands the importance of Central differentiating itself from other institutions in the Connecticut State College & University System so that prospective students can make the best decisions about where they want to go. CCSU also must serve state residents and industries and be mindful of how attitudes and culture in the state are changing, he says.

Dauwalder’s goals include continuing an effort already underway at Central to create and promote interdisciplinary opportunities for students. One example from his past is the development of a degree in sustainability that drew faculty and courses from multiple schools.

“So one of our goals should be finding ways we can provide opportunities for students that might draw multiple disciplines such as Engineering, Business, the arts, Education, Social Sciences, or somewhere else,” he says. 

President Zulma R. Toro called the provost position one of the most critically important. In announcing Dauwalder’s appointment, she described him as having the “experience, personality, and energy needed to tackle the university’s four key priorities.”

Dauwalder’s management style appears well aligned with his new boss.

“I think we approach things in a similar way,” he says. “I’ve been very impressed with her command of facts and how she wants to make decisions based on a good understanding of what they actually are. I tend to operate in a very similar fashion.”

Toro is similarly impressed with Dauwalder, both as a person and as someone who will respect and support each and every member of the faculty and will be a thoughtful and active member of the Central team.

“He understands the challenges we face, and, as importantly, he sees the opportunities offered by our exceptional academic programs and our extraordinary faculty,” she says.

Dauwalder says he and his wife, Marty, a master gardener, are excited about being back in the state. They still have a home here, many friends, and are now in a better location to visit their grown son and daughter, who live in Seattle and St. Louis, respectively, and their three grandchildren.

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