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Outgoing San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus Dean Dr. Gregorio Ponce (left) and incoming interim dean and new campus Chief Administrative Officer Mark Wheeler pose for a photo. Ponce, who leaves his post in August, will return to the faculty in January 2022. San Diego State will conduct a nationwide search for a new dean starting in the fall. | COURTESY PHOTO

SDSU-IV: Changes Afoot at Calexico Campus

Mark Wheeler Named Interim CAO/Dean; Gregorio Ponce to Return to Faculty Post.

CALEXICO — Mark Wheeler, formerly associate dean for academic affairs at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus, has been named the campus’ interim chief administrative officer and interim dean.

Wheeler’s new role was shared following Dr. Gregorio A. Ponce’s announcement that he would complete his tenure as dean in August and return to the faculty in January 2022. SDSU President Adela de la Torre and Provost Hector Ochoa initiated the process to seek nominations for an interim dean following Ponce’s announcement. 

Wheeler will be responsible for continuing the commitment to growing the Imperial Valley’s only public four-year university to meet the community’s needs during the leadership transition.  

San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus in Calexico is shown. | COURTESY PHOTO

“Dean Ponce has done an excellent job,” Wheeler said. “His vision for this campus inspires me. He has been a kind and insightful mentor. We are at a pivotal moment in the history of the SDSU-Imperial Valley campus.”

Wheeler added, “President de la Torre and her leadership team are committed to fostering the development of undergraduate and graduate academic programs in Imperial Valley. I am honored to have been selected to serve as interim dean during the critical period.”

Meanwhile, Ponce is looking forward to going back to the faculty role, which he loves. He was appointed interim dean for SDSU-Imperial Valley in 2015 and dean in 2017.

“The campus is poised to go to the next level of its transformation to better serve the higher education of Imperial Valley,” Ponce said, adding, “Having Mark at the helm, with his years of experience at the San Diego campus and his passion to transform SDSU-Imperial Valley into a full four-year university, will help keep our momentum moving forward.”  

Wheeler joined SDSU-Imperial Valley as associate dean in 2020, at a time when the university had started expanding degree programs, support offerings and increasing enrollment.

Just this year, SDSU-Imperial Valley announced that in fall 2021, it will introduce: 

  • A four-year liberal studies B.A. degree for freshmen
  • A B.A. in math degree for transfer students   
  • A Masters in Homeland Security degree program for graduate students  
  • Additional degree opportunities being offered in partnership with SDSU’s Global Campus for working adults who need a flexible path to complete a B.S. degree in business or a B.S. degree in childhood development.    
  • The hiring of four new tenure-track faculty members 
  • The addition of five new full-time staff members to the student affairs team 
  • The new administrative position of assistant director of facilities services 
  • The hiring of a full-time enrollment services coordinator

Wheeler joined the SDSU Department of Philosophy in August 1995 as an assistant professor. His research has been in ancient Western philosophy, contemporary value theory and contemporary metaphysics. 

Now a professor, Wheeler has served on the Academic Senate for the California State University. While serving on the ASCSU, he was the legislative specialist and the parliamentarian. Wheeler has served as the president of the SDSU chapter of the California Faculty Association and as both a member and chair of the University Senate. 

Wheeler earned his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Colgate University and both his master’s and doctorate degrees in philosophy at the University of Rochester. 

SDSU will conduct a nationwide search for a new dean for SDSU-Imperial Valley beginning in fall 2021. 

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