Dr. Dianne F. Harrison is the fifth president of California State University, Northridge and began her appointment in June 2012. Before her appointment, she served as president of California State University, Monterey Bay, a position she had held since 2006. Prior to CSU Monterey Bay, she worked at Florida State University, where she served for nearly 30 years in various capacities, first as a faculty member, then as dean of social work, associate vice president for academic affairs, dean of graduate studies, and vice president for academic quality and external programs.
Known for her commitment to students, academic excellence, and strategic leadership, President Harrison has a reputation for building strong partnerships with public and private organizations, enabling students, faculty, and staff to cross institutional boundaries and engage in innovative instruction.
Since her appointment, Dr. Harrison has overseen eight key priorities for CSUN: 1) advancing student success; 2) focusing on employees for success; 3) fostering diversity and inclusive excellence; 4) increasing the visibility and reputation of the university; 5) planning for a future less dependent on state funding; 6) expanding research activity and sponsored programs; 7) supporting sustainability; and 8) using athletics as a tool for engagement.
Recognized for her leadership and service in higher education and other fields, Dr. Harrison has served on more than 80 boards and committees of national, state, and local organizations. She currently serves on the board of the American Council on Education (ACE), American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and Second Nature. She is the board secretary on the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) and chair of the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) Advisory Board at the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU). She also serves on the educational leadership boards of the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology, the CSU Technology Steering Committee, the CSU Commission on Online Education, and the CSUPERB Presidents' Commission. She is the 2019–20 chair of AASCU's Committee on Sustainability Development. A former member of the NCAA Board of Governors and the Division I Board of Directors, her current appointments at the NCAA include service on the NCAA Division I Committee on Academics and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors' Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity. She recently completed the Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar in France. She has been appointed three times, most recently in October 2018, by former California Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, having been initially appointed in 2011 and served in 2014 as chair of the Commission. She completed two terms as a commissioner for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 2018.
As an active civic leader, she serves on the boards of directors for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Valley Economic Alliance, and Valley Presbyterian Hospital. She is a member of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator Leadership Council and the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs. She also serves on the Advisory Council of BizFed and as vice chair of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) Board.
In March 2019, Dr. Harrison was honored as Woman of the Year for California’s 18th Senate District and included in the Los Angeles Business Journal's "LA500" list in July 2018, as one of the 500 most influential people in Los Angeles.
Dr. Harrison holds a Ph.D. in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s of social work and a bachelor’s in American Studies, both from the University of Alabama.