Saint Mary's Provost Beth Dobkin has been named by San Francisco Business Times as one of the "Most Influential Women in the Bay Area," an annual recognition of the most accomplished Bay Area leaders in the fields of real estate, law, technology, retail, health care, finance, insurance and higher education.
The San Francisco Business Times has profiled the region's most outstanding women business leaders and executives for more than a decade. Editor Emily Fancher, who wrote the story, said of the group "These inspiring women have shared words of advice, their proudest accomplishments, community involvement and even surprising facts about themselves...Though they work in different industries, what they share is perseverance and a passion for what they do."
Dobkin was nominated for the honor by several Saint Mary's faculty, administrators, trustees and the College's President James Donahue, who remarked that Dobkin was the most talented academic administrator he had ever seen. "She has the gift of being able to combine an understanding of the distinctive qualities of Saint Mary's with an understanding of the larger trends and dynamics of the landscape of higher education," said Donahue.
John Arnaudon, a board of trustees member and the president and CEO of Concord Mitsubishi/Concord Kia, also offered praise for Dobkin as an administrator. "Under Beth’s leadership Saint Mary’s was named to the prestigious Colleges That Change Lives, the first time a Catholic institution made the 40-school list. It’s a tribute to her dedication and leadership to have been recognized amongst such a distinguished group of colleges," said Arnaudon.
Another recommending voice belonged to School of Economics and Business Administration Professor Barbara McGraw, who described Dobkin's leadership approach as collaborative and wise. "Unlike others leaders, she never assumes she knows all of the facts, perspectives, and feelings about an issue or situation before setting a strategic course or making a decision. She works very hard to make sure she understands the issue at hand from the perspectives of everyone involved or who will be impacted by a decision." said McGraw.
Dobkin who also serves as vice president for academic affairs at Saint Mary's, oversees the operational management of the College, with specific responsibility for academic affairs, enrollment, and student affairs. Under her academic leadership, Saint Mary's has experienced increased enrollment, higher retention and graduation rates, attained accreditation with AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), gained national prominence in the performing arts and seen an enhancement to the reputation and image of the College with its inclusion in the 2013-2014 edition of the college guidebook Colleges that Change Lives.
Through her advocacy of the distinctive and inclusive academic identity of the College's undergraduate and graduate programs, Dobkin has implemented a innovative academic blueprint that creates a challenging curriculum to motivate and attract academically strong students, emphasizes global awareness and engagement through expanded study abroad opportunities and integrates the College's mission of social justice and service into civic engagement courses across academic disciplines. Additionally, she has supported the modernization and sustainability goals of academic facilities through gifts from private donors and corporations and secured trustee approval for a new Library and Learning Commons.
Dobkin's commitment to diversity as a higher education leader has resulted in greater inclusiveness at the College, including retention and hiring of a diverse, highly qualified, and engaged faculty, acquisition of new grants, scholarships, and endowed professorships, achieving Hispanic Serving Institution status from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and fostering ongoing initiatives, such as a successful Campus of Difference program.
Dobkin has a distinguished history in higher education as a faculty member and an academic leader. Previously, she served as Associate Provost of the University of San Diego and was a faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies for 17 years. She has achieved national recognition for her research and teaching in the area of media and conflict. Her honors have included a fellowship in executive leadership with the American Council on Education. She earned her doctorate in Rhetoric and Social Order and a master’s degree in Rhetoric from the University of Massachusetts, and received a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication from Humboldt State University.
In addition to the San Francisco Business Times, Dobkin has been featured in regional and national media. The Contra Costa Times recently ran the op-ed by her "President's agenda for colleges comes at a cost," which addressed issues of college affordability and access to higher education — two key concerns President Obama's. She was also interviewed this spring by the national education outlet Inside Higher Education about January Term sessions at colleges and last year, she was featured in Diablo Magazine's "2013 Women to Watch” issue, which included an invitation to deliver the keynote address for the outlet's annual event, “The Think Tank.”
Among other things, featured individuals in the article were asked about their proudest accomplishments, who was their best mentor, what can be done to help women advance in the careers and offer a surprising fact about themselves. To see Dobkin's responses, read the San Francisco Business Times story.