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Della Volpe Is New Dean

Cal State Fullerton Names Alumna, Acting Dean to Permanent Post

Angela Della Volpe is Cal State Fullerton's newly appointed dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Photo by Karen Tapia

Cal State Fullerton alumna and veteran faculty member Angela Della Volpe has been named dean of the university’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The appointment is effective April 1.

“I’m elated,” said Della Volpe, who has been serving as acting dean. “I love my colleagues. They are my lifelong friends. I respect them and appreciate the work they do. For me to work more closely with them, leading the college, is just the most precious gift.”

In his announcement of Della Volpe’s promotion, Ephraim P. Smith, vice president for academic affairs, noted her decades-long career with the university.

“Dr. Della Volpe brings more than 25 years of academic and administrative leadership, experience in implementing the mission and goals of the college and the university, extensive knowledge of the curriculum and programs of HSS, and a collaborative style,” he said. “While serving as associate dean, Dr. Della Volpe continued teaching one course each semester and was highly active in curriculum and program development. She has managed and been instrumental in expanding the college-based study abroad programs in Spain, Florence and South Africa, with pending programs in Costa Rica and Cuba.”

The Rancho Palos Verdes resident became acting dean in January 2009, when Thomas P. Klammer, now emeritus dean of the college, went on medical leave. When he retired during the summer, Della Volpe’s appointment was extended.

“Angela was a wonderful colleague and partner in leading the college during the 10 years I served as dean,” Klammer said. “I am thrilled that she has been named dean. Her vision and creative spark will serve the college well during these challenging times. I look forward to watching its continued growth and development during Angela’s deanship.”

As dean, she oversees the college’s 241 full-time faculty members, 200 part-time lecturers and 45 staff members.

Her Cal State Fullerton career began 30 years ago when she was hired as a linguistics lecturer. She became assistant professor of linguistics in 1985, earning tenure in 1991 and served as her department’s chair before being named associate dean in 1996.

Della Volpe has a doctorate in Indo-European studies from UCLA and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and linguistics from Cal State Fullerton.

She has taught a variety of linguistics courses and participated in several literacy projects. Della Volpe has co-authored several volumes of the Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph Series and is co-author with Klammer and Muriel R. Schulz of “Analyzing English Grammar,” the sixth edition of which was published in 2009 by Pearson Longman.

Della Volpe is principal investigator of the university’s Vietnamese Language Project and co-principal investigator of the Southern California Strategic Languages Initiative, a federally funded project that has secured more than $1 million to underwrite the teaching of nontraditional languages at five California State University campuses, including Cal State Fullerton.

Della Volpe envisions the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ future as an evolving one.

“The college will continue to adapt to the changing nature of higher education, as well as to the changing demands of our society, our urban environment and the world’s expanding knowledge,” she said. “We will accomplish this by providing the highest quality liberal arts education and, at the same time, imparting to our students a sound applied and professional preparation. We will continue to promote our faculty research agenda, develop relevant curricula and facilitate internship opportunities so that as lifelong active learners, both our students and our faculty will be dynamic agents of positive change in our society.”

She said the current financial climate is difficult, but “we need to keep in mind that these ebbs and flows are cyclical, and this is an opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves.”

Della Volpe said the college already is undergoing a self-analysis. She has solicited faculty feedback on what the college’s goals should be for the next few years.

In addition, “we have engaged in an analysis of the typical graduate of our college,” she said. “What does the typical graduate do in the work force and in life? The answer will guide our vision and plans of the future.”

Technology, she added, will play a major role.

 “We have to marry the technology of the new age with the values of the traditional university,” Della Volpe said. “That is our challenge for the 21st century.”

An online master’s degree in gerontology is in the works, and online bachelor’s degrees in sociology and anthropology are being explored.

Della Volpe said she plans to work closely with the university’s other deans on interdisciplinary projects. Collaboration is key to future growth and success, she added.

“I have seen this campus and this county become transformed from orange groves to the urban environment it is today,” she said. “It’s a magnificent experience.”

Throughout her career, she has offered students this advice: “Find your passion and pursue it for the rest of your life. This is the place for exploration and finding your passion.”

It has been for Della Volpe.

Media Contact:
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs, 657-278-7586 or