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Q&A with CSUSB Palm Desert Campus associate dean Michael Salvador

Associate dean of the Palm Desert campus Michael Salvador in his office. Photo courtesy of Crystal Harrell.

The Cal State San Bernardino Palm Desert campus welcomed its new associate dean Michael Salvador at the beginning of this fall quarter.

Salvador was previously the chair of the communication studies department at the San Bernardino campus, but relocated to the Coachella Valley and continues to show his Coyote pride at Palm Desert’s only four-year university. The Coyote Chronicle caught up with Salvador to discuss his new position, his transition to the desert and what he sees for the future of the satellite campus.

Q: What kind of duties does being the associate dean of the Palm Desert campus entail?

A: Well, I’m involved in a lot of the student recruitment and retention activities, particularly focusing on the freshmen and sophomores. For most of the time, the Palm Desert campus had juniors and seniors exclusively and it’s only been in the last four years that we’ve admitted freshmen. My position oversees all those freshman and sophomore activities.

Q: And in your opinion, how important is it to integrate these freshmen as part of the only four-year university in the Coachella Valley?

A: It really provides an opportunity that has been missing in the Valley for the people who don’t have the option to go elsewhere to school or for those who choose to stay because of the particular programs we offer here. It’s really a community-changing opportunity, and the thing that distinguishes this campus is the level of support it gets from the community.

There’s a lot of enthusiasm for the campus and a desire to see the campus grow. It’s exciting and I do think that the Palm Desert campus provides the Coachella Valley with an opportunity to have a public four-year university.

There’s certainly different options for freshmen. For some people, that means going to community college first and transferring over, but for others, the four-year experience is really what they’re looking for and coming here as a freshman does offer opportunities for students to get involved early and to have a full college experience.

Q: You have also been a professor and chair of the CSUSB communication studies department. What was the transition like moving to a different position and campus?

A: I will say that I loved being chair of communication studies. It is a fantastic department. The faculty and students in communication studies are really top-notch. I’ve taught all over the West and at many different universities, so I can say that it’s really an outstanding department.

The change coming here was very abrupt. One day I was department chair, the next I was associate dean, so it was a big transition. I sold my house in San Bernardino and I bought a house in Palm Desert. It’s been not only life-changing in terms of the work situation, but in the living situation too. But I’m really enjoying the Palm Desert campus; the staff here is amazing and everybody has been very, very helpful. I’m really learning a lot and I’m glad to be involved in all the initiatives going on right now.

Q: As chair of that department, how do you feel about the expansion of the communication department at the Palm Desert campus?

A: I was already working with the Palm Desert campus as chair of communication studies and we have about 50 majors out here, so we were working on growing the program. I was already familiar with the campus and the students. I worked with Dean Sharon Brown-Welty and Associate Dean Doris Wilson, so I had good relations with the folks out here already. Communication studies is going to grow out here. We’ve already added Human and Organizational Communication as a concentration that students can complete 100 percent at the Palm Desert campus. And we have a new radio station that’s coming onboard along with more involvement with the Coyote Chronicle. In terms of communication studies, it’s definitely going to be part of the growth out here.

Q: You’ve mentioned that you really enjoy the students and faculty here. Are there some other aspects that you like about the Palm Desert campus?

A: The campus climate and culture is very positive. Because it’s a smaller community, there’s a feeling that we’re all in this together. It’s kind of like a family feeling out here. And I think the students feel very supported. That’s one of the things that really struck me being here, the level of support that the students receive and how everyone is dedicated to student success. The things we do from our University Hours to our Student Success Studio to our really great advising staff, the students have great resources for support. That’s what I’ve really enjoyed being a part of.

Q: What do you see for the future of the Palm Desert campus?

A: It certainly seems from everything I’ve seen that it’s really poised to grow. There’s a new master plan for buildings taking place, so I see an expansion moving forward. I know we’re also working on developing new programs to be offered here, so it’s an exciting time.

Q: Do you have a personal message you want to relay to CSUSB students?

A: I touched upon this, but the faculty and staff at the Palm Desert campus are really committed to student success and supporting students in whatever way we can, whether that’s help through advising, meeting with faculty, or even meeting with me, we’re all dedicated to seeing students succeed.

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