As many of you have already heard, our friend and colleague Don Cardinal has decided that, after serving as dean since 2002, he wants to go back to what he appropriately describes as his ‘dream job’, namely Professor of Education. While I am sincerely sorry to see him do that, I fully understand his desire, and despite the attempts that both President Doti and I made to change his mind, he has stood firm in his decision. Don will serve as dean for one more year, while, during the academic year 2014-15, we search for a new dean.

Don has been a truly special leader in the history of Chapman University. He joined the institution back in 1988, and since then has fulfilled a variety of important and delicate tasks, both as a faculty and as an administrator, including being the Chair of the Faculty, during the historical period in which Chapman moved to a Faculty Senate structure.

Donald Cardinal, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Educational Studies

Donald Cardinal, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Educational Studies

I first interacted with Don in the months before my arrival as Provost, in the Spring of 2006. At that time he and I had several discussions on the Ph.D. in Education that was under WASC approval; I still remember how his attention to, and emphasis on, the culture of scholarship struck me as exactly what Chapman needed, and what I wanted to see as part of our growth. Don’s words weren’t just rhetorical statements: in the years since he took the job of dean he has literally transformed his College, which now houses five peer reviewed professional journals (all edited by our faculty), includes almost 100 positions on editorial boards, and more generally is one of the most active intellectual units on campus, as it can be easily deduced by the fact that, in the past two years alone, the faculty in the College of Educational Studies has authored 15 full length books. Concurrently with this cultural transformation, Don has brought also very concrete and tangible new ideas to the table, including not only the new Ph.D., but also an extremely successful Master in Communication Science and Disorders, as well as the recently established (and wildly successful) post-bac program that graduates up to 50 students per year through extended education. The revamped efforts in Extended Education, as well, should properly be credited to Don’s enthusiasm and foresight. Finally, in order to meet the CES goal to have an authentic presence in underserved communities, Don cultivated the idea to expand our partnership with Ruben Martinez, and to develop the Libreria Martinez de Chapman University, in order to create a hub for social, educational and cultural events in the midst of Santa Ana.

I have often praised Don, both privately and publicly, for what he has done, but in his typical style he usually retorts that “these accomplishments must be credited to the faculty and staff of the CES, thinking one person is ever solely responsible for one’s accomplishments is, well, naive.” And while I know that he believes that, and of course there is significant truth to that statement, it is hard not to notice that under Don’s leadership the programs in the College have received four national accreditations (Athletic Training, Speech Pathology, Teacher Education ad School Psychology), one international accreditation (International School Psychology Association) and seven state accreditations, becoming the first and only university in California to be granted full accreditation from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

In many ways Don has anticipated what Chapman is evolving towards. Without sacrificing the individual attention for every single student (witness the success of the undergraduate program in Integrated Educational Studies, that is now almost ten times larger than its Liberal Studies predecessor, and the new program in Kinesiology, which will start in the next few months, and has already more than 100 new students!), Don has gradually moved the entire College towards a research orientation, with outcomes that can be quantified not only in publications, but in grants (more than $10,000,000 in federal and state grants) and philanthropic gifts as well. One example for all is the Donna Ford Attallah Academy of Teaching and Learning, a much needed $3 Million dollar effort to improve public education.

But there is more to Don than what his illustrious bio shows: there is more to him than being a successful dean. Don has been, from my arrival on campus, a trusted partner and collaborator, and a true campus leader. His passion for Chapman always surpassed his specific commitment for the College of Educational Studies, and I know that because of this, and despite his desire to go back to the classroom, there will be many opportunities in the years to come, when I will be able to call on Don’s expertise and wisdom, and forge new plans for our wonderful institution.

As I come to the conclusion of this letter, I realize that I have left out so many accomplishments, that the letter is only a pale reflection of the impact that Don has had on Chapman, and I look forward, like I know you all do, to being a witness to the flourishing of all that Don has done for our students, our colleagues, our institution, and the community at large.