"Our Valley Our Potential:
Cultivating Higher Education and Student Affairs Leaders"
The Central Valley is at the heart of California, the communities here plant roots here, and our social justice-oriented leaders help cultivate knowledge for generations to come. This inaugural conference will provide emerging and current higher education and student affairs leaders with an opportunity to engage in learning from their peers and ignited actionable steps to advance the future of higher education in the Central Valley. Through this conference, we advance the Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL) program mission to develop scholar-practitioners and prepare ethical and social justice-oriented leaders in higher education for diverse communities in the Central Valley. Participation in HESACV is free. We welcome all to participate.
Vernon A. Wall
Vernon is a nationally known speaker in the areas of social justice and leadership styles. He is one of the founders and facilitators of the Social Justice Training Institute and the 2020-2021 ACPA President. His award-winning programs and presentations have been seen by thousands of students, faculty, and staff on campuses across the country. Vernon’s passion for social justice and inclusion is grounded in a quote from his late grandmother: “May the work I’ve done speak for me.”
Vice President of Student Affairs
Join us for an exceptional panel consisting of some of the
Central Valley's Vice Presidents of Student Affairs & Student Services.
Vice President of Student Affairs, CSU Fresno
Dr. Kent Willis
Dr. Kent Willis is the vice president of the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at CSU, Fresno. He oversees employees in the division and student service offices and programs, including enrollment, campus discipline, academic advising, migrant services, student activities and the student unions on campus.
Willis received a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Stephen F. Austin State University, a master’s degree in secondary education from East Central University and a Ph.D. in educational management from Hampton University, one of the nation’s prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
His dissertation title was “Advancement of college readiness in South Texas: Perspectives on improved outcomes for at-risk students.” Willis’ research interests include college and career readiness, closing achievement gaps, school-based health promotion (wellness) and education policy.
At his previous institution at the University of Texas at Tyler, Willis was instrumental in program planning, student development and academic affairs. In addition, he created engaging and transformative educational experiences that inspired lifelong learning, authentic leadership and independent scholarship.
Vice President of Student Services, Porterville College
Primavera Arvizu currently serves as Vice President of Student Services at Porterville College and is a central valley native. She has over 20 years of higher education experience including roles such as the Dean of Student Success at Taft College, where she brought student success to the forefront by enhancing systems, removing barriers, and providing learning opportunities. She has worked at other institutions including Bakersfield College and California State University, Bakersfield in categorical programs, financial aid, Admissions and Records, Ronald E. McNair Program, Title V, EOP, Outreach, and other programs. She has led the college’s implementation of Guided Pathways, has served and the Accreditation Officer, has participated on IEPI PRT Teams, has served as a mentor for the ACCCA Mentor Program, has co-chaired strategic planning efforts, is the co-chair for the District EEO Advisory, serves on the State Chancellor’s Office EEO Diversity and Advisory Committee, and continues to focus on students first. She is devoted to advocating for students, paving the way for opportunities, removing barriers, and mentoring those who believe education is not possible.
Vice President of Student Affairs, CSU Stanislaus
Dr. Christine Erickson
Dr. Christine Erickson serves as Vice President for Student Affairs at California State University (CSU), Stanislaus. She is a strategic leader dedicated to access and student success, and throughout her almost thirty-year career in higher education, she has facilitated bridge-building between academic and student affairs to create seamless curricular and co-curricular living and learning environments that foster student success. Erickson earned her Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania; her dissertation topic was, “Racial and ethnic pluralities at the California State University: Strategies for student success.” Her research and experience prepared her well for her current role; Stan State is her third CSU campus, all of which are designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions.
Prior to her current post at Stan State, Erickson was the Founding Dean of the Marina Education Center, a Satellite campus of Monterey Peninsula College. She previously held the role of Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at Cal State Monterey Bay where she was instrumental in the growth of programs and services to serve a rapidly growing and diverse student body. Prior to her service at CSUMB, Erickson held various leadership roles at Cal State San Bernardino including Judicial and Student Affairs Management Officer and Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development. Other areas in which she served include Advising, Services to Students with Disabilities, and Admissions and Records. Additionally, she served as the Associate Vice President for Student Life at Michigan Technological University.
Erickson currently serves on the Steering Committee as the Immediate Past Co-chair of the California State University Student Affairs Council made up of the Vice Presidents for Student Affairs at all 23 campuses. She also chairs the California State University Systemwide Advisory Committee on Services to Students with Disabilities.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, UC Merced
Dr. Charles Nies
Dr. Charles Nies is the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UC Merced, and has served as interim vice chancellor, associate vice chancellor, dean of students and assistant vice chancellor since joining UC Merced in 2006. He has responsibility for areas that create an engaged campus life and that foster student learning outside of the classroom.
Dr. Nies has worked in higher education for more than 25 years in a variety of roles. He was the dean of students at a small private college, a program director for a minor in leadership studies, and an assistant dean of an interdisciplinary school at a large public university.
His area of research is leadership and social change. As an instructor, he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in leadership theory, organizational theory, student development, and social identity development. He has served as a consultant to a number of universities, non-profit organizations, and public agencies. He is a member of the American Leadership Forum and was appointed by the Governor in February 2018 to the California Student Aid Commission.
Dr. Nies earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas as a double major in psychology and theology. He received a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology and a doctorate in Educational Leadership/Leadership Theory from Washington State University.
Vice President of Student Affairs, CSU Bakersfield
Dr. Thomas Wallace
Thomas D. Wallace, Vice President for Student Affairs at California State University, Bakersfield, began his appointment February 15, 2012. He has held administrative and faculty positions at the University of Mississippi and the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He is Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Education, Emeritus, at the University of Mississippi.
In 2011, Dr. Wallace received the Curulis Award presented by the Student Government Association at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. It is student government’s highest honor presented to a faculty or staff member providing outstanding service to students. In June 2012, after only five months as Vice President for Student Affairs at California State University, Bakersfield, Dr. Wallace was selected Administrator of the Year by the Associated Students, Inc. He was named Northwest Mississippi Community College Alumnus of the Year in 2008 and the University of Mississippi, School of Education, Alumnus of the Year in 1998. During that same year he was presented with the Ole Miss Alumni Association’s Minority Award of Distinction. The Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning for the State of Mississippi named Dr. Wallace, Black History Month Educator of the Year in 1999. In October 2015, the Alumni Association of the University of Mississippi inducted him into its Distinguished Hall of Fame. In February 2017, the CSUB Black Student Union presented Dr. Wallace with the Unity Award for contributions in promoting diversity and collaborations. He received the President’s Award, June 2018, for outstanding contributions to California State University, Bakersfield.
Dr. Wallace is a noted lecturer and facilitator on topics such as diversity, leadership development and student recruitment and retention. He served on the Executive Board of Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society, held the position of Mississippi Director for the National Association of School Personnel Administrators (NASPA) for four years and also served as a faculty member for the Mississippi Economic Council’s Leadership Mississippi Program, the country’s second oldest state leadership program.
Dr. Wallace received his Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Master of Arts in Education Administration and Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership all from the University of Mississippi. He received additional training from the American Association of the State Colleges and Universities’ Millennium Leadership Institute in Washington D.C. and the Harvard University, Institute for Educational Management.