Mitchell Maki, Dean of the College of Health & Human Services

Mitchell T. Maki was appointed as the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services effective July 1, 2005. Dr. Maki most recently served as Acting Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Los Angeles. A social worker by training, Dr. Maki brings great hopes and aspirations to his new position in the College of Health and Human Services. It was the first full week of July. Mitchell Maki, the new Dean of the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) had been on the job for only three days. He still had empty spaces on his desk and shelves, and some unpacking to do. But what he had already done said something about him: He had his working tools—computer, pens, reference materials—placed, and he had the photo of his twins set up, as well as the gift of a glass-enclosed, fully outfitted model of a samurai warrior on display, given to him when he left Cal State Los Angeles. He was deciding how best to place the rest of his things.

His unpacking priorities parallel his approach to his new job: Get the core materials in place, then consider what to do with the rest. “I think it’s presumptuous for someone to come in and say, ‘Ok, we’re changing things overnight.’ I don’t yet have a full sense of what has worked well, know enough yet about the culture of the university and of this particular college. Timing is everything. My style is to bring changes incrementally.”

His overarching and ultimate goal, as Maki puts it, is ambitious: “I want to make the Cal State Dominguez Hills College of Health and Human Services the go-to college for health professionals in the Southland. I want to develop a reputation that if you’re interested in the health and human services professions, you should consider Dominguez Hills as the place to get your education, as well as a place to come work if you’re faculty or staff.

“To do that,” the new Dean says, “We need to make this a place that promotes its excellence, its diversity in thinking. Let’s make this a fun place to work, to learn, to launch a career. That’s a lofty goal, but I think we can, and should, go there, one program at a time, one student at a time.”

Maki wanted to come to Dominguez Hills because so many of the students are as he was: “A lot of first-generation college students, a lot of students who for the first time are venturing beyond high school to a world that is new to them and their families. That really resonates with me because I’m the first in my family to get a college education.

“I remember going off to college and realizing in that bittersweet moment that I was realizing a dream of my family and myself, but at the same time realizing I had just surpassed my parents in very significant ways,” Maki says. “I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. I mean I surpassed their ability to counsel me, to advise me as to what a major was, how I should engage in the college environment.

“Because of that experience,” Maki says, “I realize the critical responsibility we have as faculty, as staff, as administrators, to our students. To help them make that step to college and to all the opportunities that will open up to them in their lives. I’ve seen it at Cal State L.A., which serves a similar student population, where a
student will devote five or six years of his or her life while working, while raising children, to getting their college degrees. They will make a tremendous difference in their own lives as well as in the lives of their families.

But, Maki acknowledged on that early-July day, he won’t make all the differences all at once. He didn’t even know his way around Dominguez Hills yet, figuratively and literally. “I’ve walked the campus and so far I’ve gotten lost twice trying to look everywhere, see where everything is. And, every day I’m meeting more people. But I’ll find my way around.”

Then Maki, seeing the metaphor of literally finding his way around the campus to figuratively finding his way, said, “Cal State Dominguez Hills has been serving the community for many years and will continue to do so for many more. We’re not running a sprint here. We’re running a marathon. A very long marathon. We need to build to last.”

Russell Hudson, Senior Editor - University Communications & Public Affairs
California State University, Dominguez Hills Dateline


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