Former California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Interim President Donald J. Para was honored at the most recent California State University Board of Trustees meeting with a written resolution. He recently retired after serving as interim president at CSULB since July 2013 when then–President King Alexander left to head Louisiana State University. New president Jane Close Conoley began her duties this month.
Excerpts from the resolution cited Para’s strong support for underserved communities, as well as access and diversity. It also noted his passion for the arts, as demonstrated by establishing the MBA/MFA degree in theatre management, making CSU Long Beach only the second university in the nation to offer this terminal degree.
“I was most fortunate to have been part of Cal State Long Beach for so many years. The great mission of the CSU and CSULB focusing on student success has changed the lives of the graduates and current students. I was honored to serve as interim president and equally honored to receive this resolution with such kind words from the CSU Board of Trustees,” said Para.
In addition, the resolution recognized his reputation for collaboration and inclusiveness, while calling him the driving force behind the establishment of the Leadership Fellows Program at CSULB to develop the next generation of university leaders who can respond systematically to critical issues in higher education.
Part of the resolution said: “Dr. Para’s vision for California State University, Long Beach has established outstanding academic offerings in the arts, and his leadership in academic affairs has resulted in the University’s highly rated programs receiving major support from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Carnegie Foundation, and others.”
Para was appointed to the provost position in May 2010, and previously served as interim provost after formally ending his tenure of dean of the College of the Arts, a post he held from 2001-09. He was with CSULB for 26 years.
Prior to becoming dean, Para served a year as associate dean and 12 years as chair of the Department of Music at CSULB. Before his appointments at CSULB, Para served as chair of the Department of Music at Cal State Los Angeles and, for 15 years before that, was on the faculty at Western Michigan University, serving the last five years as assistant director of the School of Music.
Para received a B.M. in music education and a M.M. in music composition from Western Michigan University. He earned his Ph.D. in music composition at Michigan State University. His teaching areas are music theory, musicianship and composition. His compositions, which include works for chamber ensembles, large instrumental and vocal ensembles, chamber opera, theater, and the electronic medium, have been supported by various granting agencies.
Para has presented papers and given presentations at numerous meetings of arts education organizations and music theory conferences. He served the National Association of Schools of Music as chair of Region One from 1994-97 and as a visiting evaluator for accreditation for 15 years. In 2007-08, he was director of the Seminars for New Department Chairs for the Conference of Colleges of Arts and Sciences.