As a first-generation high school and college graduate from a family of modest means, Rich Ogle, Stanislaus State’s new provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, fully understands the potential of transformational learning experiences.
“Serving an institution that significantly improves the social mobility of its students is very exciting to me. It’s really powerful, and it’s my life story,” he said. “My dad was a cab driver, and my mom grew up in the foster care system and always struggled with a learning disability. I am a strong example of the social mobility impact of higher education.”
Ogle grew up in El Cajon, just east of San Diego, and was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a doctorate in psychology. A licensed psychologist, he completed his clinical internship and post-doctoral training at the Veteran’s Administration medical and surgical facility in Seattle.
He began building his career in higher education in 2002 at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (UNCW). He started as a faculty member, then moved up through the administrative ranks and eventually became the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Ogle stepped into his current role at Stan State in mid-June, succeeding Kimberly Greer, who recently took the job of interim provost at California State University, East Bay.
Although he was firmly established at UNCW, the idea of returning to California and working in the CSU system has been on Ogle’s mind for a few years. The CSU system—and particularly Stan State—was frequently on his radar because it was a peer comparison school for UNCW, and he followed news about the CSU system because he is an alumnus, having spent his first year of college and earning his doctorate at San Diego State.
“I’ve always had an affinity for the CSU system because it has a focus on helping students access education and attain social mobility. That is a mission I believe in,” he said. “And I’ve always paid a little extra attention to Stan State because it serves so many students who are the kind of student that I was—first-generation and Pell Grant eligible. At this point, I find it very fulfilling to serve those students and focus my career on those values.”
Serving Students ‘A Calling’
A few weeks into his new job, Ogle described his work at Stan State as “more of a calling than a job.” He said he is excited about implementing the University’s Strategic Plan, which prioritizes student success and faculty excellence.
“That is certainly my focus—providing transformative learning experiences for students driven by faculty success,” he said. “You do that by hiring great faculty, putting them in cutting-edge programs, supporting them in their teaching and their research, scholarship and creative activity, and that will drive student success.”
He said he is also keeping an open mind about new programs and changes because he first wants to get to know the campus community and more about the existing programs.
“I don’t have any set ideas because I really want any direction that we take to be a grassroots effort,” he said. “It should be based on students’ needs, students’ wants, what is going to help students beyond the gates of Stan State and the areas of faculty expertise that we identify as waiting and ready to expand.”
Ogle said future programs will likely be more interdisciplinary, and he expects to explore those types of opportunities with students, faculty, staff and campus leadership in the coming months. He also expects to do a lot of listening to and brainstorming with his colleagues without constraints.
“That is how I like to work. I like to invite people to brainstorm and dream while putting the logistical problems aside,” he said. “When we come up with something interesting, then we can work out the logistics.”
Besides bringing him closer to his Southern California roots, moving from North Carolina to Turlock brings he and his wife Lupin closer to family. He still has family in the San Diego area and she has family in Modesto, which is where her parents grew up.
The Ogles have three children: Lola, a student at North Carolina State University; Louise, a high school senior who is completing her studies online; and Soren, who will be starting fifth grade in Turlock.
He describes his family as “theatrical” and said they all enjoy live theater as audience members and participants. He is also looking forward to escaping the summer humidity that is common in North Carolina.
After recently experiencing a 108-degree day in Turlock, Ogle was unfazed by the high temperature and happily commented, “I enjoyed the dry heat.”