Dianne Harrison, President
Dr. Dianne F. Harrison is the fifth president of California State University, Northridge and began her appointment in June of 2012. Before her appointment, she served as president of California State University, Monterey Bay, a position she had held since 2006. Prior to CSU Monterey Bay, she worked at Florida State University, where she served for nearly 30 years in various capacities starting as a faculty member, then as dean of social work, associate vice president for academic affairs, dean of graduate studies, and vice president for academic quality and external programs. Dr. Harrison has announced that she will step away from the presidency at CSUN effective June 30, 2020.
Known for her commitment to students, academic excellence, and strategic leadership, President Harrison has a reputation for building strong partnerships with public and private organizations, enabling students, faculty, and staff to cross institutional boundaries and engage in innovative instruction.
Since her appointment, Dr. Harrison has identified eight key priorities for CSUN:
1) an unrelenting focus on student success;
2) focus on employees for success;
3) the visibility and reputation of the University;
4) planning for a future less dependent on state funding;
5) increasing research activity and sponsored programs;
7) using athletics as a tool for engagement; and
8) diversity and inclusive excellence.
She holds a Ph.D. in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s of social work and a bachelor’s in American Studies, both from the University of Alabama. Her academic and research areas of expertise include HIV prevention among women and minority populations and higher education issues related to university leadership. A prolific researcher and writer, Dr. Harrison has published dozens of articles and two books.
Dr. Harrison was awarded a Trailblazer Award by Leadership California in April of 2015. She is the recipient of “A Tree of Life Award” from the Parent Institute for Quality Education for her contributions to the education of all children and was inducted into the Monterey Business Hall of Fame by the Junior Achievement of Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay. In January of 2012, she was invited by the U.S. Department of Education to a national convening of “For Democracy’s Future: Education Reclaims Our Civic Mission” at the White House. Among the University’s achievements since Dr. Harrison’s arrival, CSUN was inducted into the San Fernando Valley Business Hall of Fame by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) in June of 2013.
Since Dr. Harrison’s arrival, the University has also received several significant recognitions, including: being ranked among the top 25 in Nature magazine’s 2016 index of Rising Stars in science; two national awards in 2016 for sustainability, including the Excellence and Innovation Award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and a Solution Generation’s Climate Leadership Award from the Hispanic Association of Universities and Colleges; the Eddy Award for Educational Leadership from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation in 2015; and induction into the San Fernando Valley Business Hall of Fame by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association in June of 2013, and the Excellence in Community Service Award from Valley Presbyterian Hospital.