Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dee Abrahamse caps her nearly 40 years of service to the university on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 4 p.m. when the scholar, educator and administrator delivers the Legacy Lecture.
Abrahamse will offer the prestigious address in the Karl Anatol Center followed by a reception.
The Legacy Lecture was established in 1992 as an opportunity for select CSULB professors to address the university community as if it were their last lecture, sharing personal reflections, beliefs, convictions, values and visions as educators. Past lecturers include dance’s Pat Finot, psychology’s John Jung and, most recently, past President Robert Maxson.
“I can’t think of any recognition I’d rather have from the university,” said Abrahamse, a Long Beach resident.
“I’ve been here since 1967, which is a very long time. This is an honor usually reserved for a senior faculty member and the list of past Legacy Lecturers includes some of the people I’ve most admired on this campus. It’s an honor to be in their company.”
Abrahamse feels one of the most important aspects of the Legacy Lecture is the opportunity to share values with the campus.
“I’ve always thought one of the most important values on this campus was achieving a balance between being serious about teaching, caring about the students, and maintaining a professional life” she said. “And one of the most important values to me personally is family.”
Abrahamse retired in 2005 as Dean of the College of Liberal after serving with distinction for more than 15 years. She served as the first dean of the “mega-college” that resulted from the merger of the former Colleges of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, and led 23 departments and programs and 10 academic centers through a period of rapid and dramatic faculty renewal. She contributed in significant ways to nearly every interdisciplinary initiative in the university, often serving as the spearhead.
Abrahamse is a pioneer on campus as one of the first women in CSULB’s History Department.
“I had a very positive experience here,” she recalled. “There were never more than one or two experiences where I felt that, if I were a male, things might have happened differently. From the beginning, this was a campus where it was easy to make friendships across campus, help create new programs and contribute to the university.”
The campus has changed dramatically since she arrived. “The trees were shorter then,” she laughed. “I had just come from the East and Midwest where I’d finished my graduate degree at the University of Michigan. What I found was definitely not an Eastern university. I met a lot of students right away and enjoyed the diversity in age and experience they brought. I found good colleagues and got here just in time for the campus activism of the late 60s.”
Abrahamse points to such career highlights as helping to develop the teaching of history, to be part of a developing new faculty and to take part in new programs.
“That was very exciting,” she said. “I was an associate dean, then dean and I take great pride in having helped to bring in more than half the College of Liberal Arts’ faculty. When I got to know them, I saw how much creativity and good scholarship and good teaching there was. It was a faculty distinguished by their energy and imagination.”
Abrahamse is glad she made the decision to join CSULB. “It seemed like an accident at the time but it’s worked out well,” she said. “As interim provost, I still have goals. I want to improve the university’s ability to maintain access and diversity, keep students here and to help them graduate with a high-quality education. I want to work on a capital campaign to increase support for faculty and student needs, and support President Alexander’s vision for the university’s future. There are lots of students on campus and the university needs to plan for them and their faculty. Personally, I also hope to teach my favorite history course again in the future and have a bit more leisure time.”
More information about the Legacy Lecture is available by calling the Center for Faculty Development at 562/985-5287.