College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Dean Rios-Ellis Says Farewell to CHSHS

I want to take this final opportunity to express my gratitude to the College of Health Sciences and Human Services (CHSHS) and the larger CSUMB community. Throughout these past six and a half years I have had the opportunity to serve as founding dean and engage with a mission-driven team of stellar and caring faculty and staff to build a college wherein our mission and vision drive our intentionality. We have formed an External Leadership Council of members whose expertise and dedication to our mutual success rivals that of any major university. Our ELC members have not only provided sage guidance, but have worked alongside us to ensure that CHSHS is meeting our number one strategic goal: To be the health sciences and human services workforce training hub for the central California coast.

Although the path has not been obstacle free, we have successfully achieved major accomplishments, some of which represent firsts throughout the entire CSU system. We have held the three magic words “si se puede” close to our hearts, and in so doing have been able to build new and innovative programs and traditions that have resonated throughout the Central California Coast. We have led the university in developing high quality, accredited programs. In just six-and-a-half short years our graduates can be observed hard at work throughout every clinic and hospital, gym and recreational facility, and nonprofit and governmental organization. The success of our students and contributions of our graduates are building notoriety as the College of Health Sciences and Human Services becomes a top choice for students throughout California and the nation.

Together we have raised the millions needed to support our Master of Science Physician Assistant Program, our Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program, our Master of Social Work Degree, our Kinesiology Department, and our future Master of Public Health Program. Thanks to the support of our sponsors, CHSHS hosts a Diversity Celebration Series that rivals that of any major university. Furthermore, we have raised almost ten million in scholarship funds to support our students, many whom are the first in their families to attend college.

We have drawn national attention to both CSUMB and the College of Health Sciences and Human Services. We have hosted individuals responsible for the changes we are seeing throughout our nation, such as Congressional Representative and Majority Whip James Clyburn and former Congresswoman Dr. Donna Christensen. We were one of two national finalists to compete for the honor of serving as the host institution for the National Urban Fellows Program and although we lost to Georgetown University, we rose beyond several R1 institutions. The faculty of Health, Human Services, and Public Policy stand prepared to offer a Master of Public Health and Master of Public Administration within the next few years, creating prime opportunities for dual degree options with our existing CHSHS degree programs.

Furthermore, we have also been the first in the entire CSU system to acquire state-of-the-art technology to improve our teaching of complex systems, as exemplified by not just one, but two Anatomage Virtual Cadavers, used to teach anatomy and physiology in our Kinesiology and Master of Science Physician Assistant Programs.

Finally, our region is much more prepared to manage the intersectional complexities of a pandemic, an opioid crisis, a surging homelessness issue, and a myriad of increasing health disparities that have plagued Monterey County and the nation. Our graduates simply exemplify the best among their professional peers, by providing dedicated, high-quality culturally resonant care and services.

Just last month we moved into our new Community Health Engagement, or CHE, facility in Chinatown, Salinas. Located at 21 Soledad in the heart of Monterey County’s largest homeless community, our dynamic team of students and staff are working diligently to mitigate homelessness, health disparities, and COVID-19 infection and risk. As we await the outcome of our application for CHE to be designated a Center at CSUMB, the CHE team will continue to strive to ensure that all Monterey County residents have the capacity to sustain, and the opportunity to have, a safe place to call home.

Without doubt I will miss CSUMB and the exemplary faculty, staff, and students with whom I am honored to share in the development of CHSHS. I am so grateful and consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best and brightest. In January, as I assume the position of Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost at Oakland University in Michigan, CSUMB and CHSHS will continue to hold an indelible place in my heart. Enrique and I will rebuild our home, which was lost in the Carmel Fire, and one day return to Monterey. I remain both inspired and excited to witness the wonders my predecessor will create with our outstanding CHSHS family!

Mil gracias!

Dean Britt Rios-Ellis