May 9, 2012

Dear Colleagues:

After almost 19 years of exceptional leadership as the dean of students, and 28 years of loyal service to our campus community, Dr. Yonie Harris has announced her intention to retire, effective June 28, 2012.

I will be consulting with our vice chancellor for Student Affairs, executive vice chancellor, Academic Senate, administrative colleagues, and members of our campus community on the appointment of an acting dean in the near future. Due to budget considerations and plans for a strategic reorganization, we will not be immediately undertaking a search for our next dean, but I will be forming a search advisory committee in the near future and announcing this to our campus community.

Prior to becoming the dean of students, Yonie served as director of Orientation Programs from 1984 to 1991, acting dean of students in 1991, and director of University-Isla Vista affairs from 1992 to 1994. She has been actively involved with the Isla Vista community throughout her career, serving as executive director of Isla Vista Youth Projects from 1978 to 1984 and as an ongoing member of the organization's board of directors.

Dean Harris earned a master's degree in cultural anthropology at UCSB in 1989. She subsequently conducted field research in the Cook Islands and received her Ph.D. in 1995.

Yonie has worked closely with colleagues across our campus to help create and sustain a welcoming campus environment for all students, and to promote civil discourse and free exchange of ideas and perspectives. She has been a leader in promoting equity and inclusion for students and all members of our campus community. She has also played a vital role in strengthening the relationship between our campus administration and our students, fostering a positive, collaborative, and engaged environment where we all can work together in support of our shared goals. In addition, Yonie has been a longstanding champion for our campus's multifaceted involvement with the Isla Vista community, with a special emphasis on supporting youth and family services in Isla Vista. She represented the university on the ad hoc community group that established the Isla Vista Teen Center, and she remains committed to supporting the work of the center in Isla Vista. 

As the dean of students, Yonie has overseen strategic planning and reorganization efforts and initiated a variety of programs and services to respond to newly identified student needs. Among many other contributions, she has worked to develop more comprehensive, integrated, and responsive student mental health services and distressed student identification protocols; she has spearheaded an effort at both the campus and system-wide levels to promote the concept of "wellness" as an organizing framework for current programs and an impetus for new initiatives; and she has co-chaired building committees that have brought online two award-winning facilities designed specifically to meet the needs of our students -- the Student Affairs-Administrative Services Building and the Student Resource Building.

I would like to express our campus's sincere gratitude to Dean Harris for her tremendous dedication to our students and her commitment to fostering a caring and supportive environment where our students can thrive and achieve their academic and personal goals. We wish her the very best in all that lies ahead.


Henry T. Yang