Donald J. Para was named interim president of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in May 2013. Para brings extensive administrative experience and a strong record of academic success to the position.
He previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs since May 2010 after serving as interim provost for nearly a year.
As provost, Para successfully led the Division of Academic Affairs during a period of severe state budget cuts. Despite significant fiscal challenges, Para was dedicated to providing support for faculty workload, mentoring, and research, scholarly and creative activity. He maintained Academic Affairs' focus on student success, overseeing the creation of the Highly Valued Degrees Initiative, which has boosted graduation rates while raising the value of CSULB's degrees.
During Para's tenure as provost, CSULB received national recognition for its diversity, value and efforts to ensure students succeed and experienced a significant increase in student applications, receiving more than 80,000 for fall 2013 admissions. The university also saw the opening of the Hall of Science, the School of Nursing Building and the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music Pavilion and Plaza.
Para served as dean of the College of the Arts (COTA) for eight years and is credited with enhancing the quality of academic programs and guiding the college through a period of substantial growth, with student enrollment surging from 2,500 in 2001 to about 4,000. Under his leadership, the college raised more than $30 million, including CSULB's largest donation – a $16.4 million donation from the Bob Cole Trust to provide scholarships for student musicians. During his tenure, COTA also collaborated with the College of Business Administration to establish an MBA/MFA degree in theatre management, making CSULB only the second university in the nation to offer the terminal degree.
Prior to becoming dean, Para served a year as associate dean and 12 years as chair in the Department of Music at CSULB. Before his appointments at CSULB, Para served as chair of the Department of Music at California State University, 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. His Ph.d. in music composition was earned at Michigan State University. His teaching areas are music theory, musicianship, and composition. Para's 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 (NASM) 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 (CCAS). In addition to his academic duties, Para served on the Arts Council for Long Beach Board of Directors.
As interim president, Para provides leadership for the university and promotes excellence in all aspects of the university's mission.