NMSU appoints permanent dean to lead new college

LAS CRUCES — After a nationwide search, New Mexico State University has named Yoshitaka Iwasaki as the inaugural dean of the College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation.

Iwasaki will begin her new role at NMSU on July 1, NMSU Acting Provost Dorothy Campbell announced Thursday.

Iwasaki has over 20 years of experience in higher education and expertise in community research and education, knowledge mobilization and capacity building. He is currently a professor and director of the Department of Public Health and Recreation at San Jose State University.

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“Dr. Iwasaki’s research and experiences will align with our community’s and NMSU’s mission and goals of academic excellence, community engagement, and social justice,” Campbell said.

Iwasaki, Ph.D. in Recreation and Leisure Studies from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, will arrive at NMSU at a pivotal time to lead the university’s newest college.

Established in 2021, the College of Health, Education and Social Transformation is the result of a merger between the former Colleges of Education and Health and Human Services and the Department of Sociology.

The college is home to eight academic departments and offers cumulative degrees, certificates, and degrees in several areas, including communication disorders; counseling and educational psychology; kinesiology; feeding with milk; public health; social work; sociology; and teacher preparation, administration and leadership.

As Dean, Iwasaki will work to develop initiatives that support and advance NMSU’s strategic plan, its mission as a land-grant university, and its commitment to student social mobility. He will also have the opportunity to make a significant impact throughout the border region and its educational, health, and socio-economic outcomes while contributing to NMSU’s teaching, service, and research efforts through strategic leadership and relationship building.

New Mexico State University created the College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation in July 2021 after the merger of the former Colleges of Education and Health and Human Services and the Department of sociology.

Iwasaki’s areas of interest and expertise include culture, diversity and community-university engagement, active living, and quality of life. He also specializes in participatory action research to address social justice issues such as human rights, poverty, empowerment, youth engagement, mental health and social change.

“I’m very inspired and drawn to two distinct areas of recognition and differentiation that NMSU and HEST possess,” Iwasaki said. “First are the people who founded and mobilize this preeminent public research university that lands with its commitment to transformative student-centered education, community-university engagement, and innovative translational research, guided by diversity , equity and inclusion, social justice and entrepreneurial orientations.

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Iwasaki continued, “The second is the organizational structure of HEST, which is a distinctive, truly interdisciplinary, solution-oriented college that integrates both human and health dimensions in clinical and community settings with an emphasis on holistic health, wellness, and human development; and a fierce commitment to addressing health, educational, and socioeconomic disparities across New Mexico.

Prior to joining San Jose State University, Iwasaki served as a professor, associate dean for research, and director of a research center at the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension from 2011 to 2018. He also worked as a professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Health Professions and Social Work at Temple University in Philadelphia from 2006 to 2011.

Iwasaki’s professional experience includes over a decade serving in leadership positions at institutions of higher education. In 2017, he received the first McKinnon Walker Trust Global Fellowship from the University of Wollongong in Australia. In 2008, he was inducted into the Academy of Leisure Sciences.

At NMSU, Iwasaki will succeed Henrietta Pichon, who has served as the college’s acting dean since July 2021.

“As we embark on our journey of transformation together,” Iwasaki said, “we should invest in organizational culture and community building to co-create ‘one college under one umbrella,’ while embracing the legacy and the strengths of each integrated unit within a college.”

For more information about the college, visit https://hest.nmsu.edu.

Carlos Andres López writes for New Mexico State University Marketing and Communications and can be reached at 575-646-1955, or by email at carlopez@nmsu.edu.

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