Cal Poly provost retiring after 7 years at the university

Cal Poly provost Kathleen Enz Finken announced Tuesday that she will be stepping down after nearly seven years with the university.
Cal Poly provost Kathleen Enz Finken announced Tuesday that she will be stepping down after nearly seven years with the university.

Cal Poly’s provost and executive vice president of academic affairs for nearly seven years will step down in 2019, a few years after a after undergoing major surgery related to cancer.

“While I have had no recurring health issues, the experience served as a reminder of what is most important to me, and I am anxious to spend more time with family and friends,” Kathleen Enz Finken, who has served as provost since 2012, wrote in an email Tuesday. “In addition, there are many personal interests and projects that I have put on hold that I look forward to pursuing.”

After serving as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for about three years, Enz Finken was hired as the senior member of Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong’s executive management staff in February 2012. She succeeded former provost Robert Koob, who served as the university’s interim provost since 2008.

In her email to colleagues Tuesday, Enz Finken wrote that it has been a “great joy to work with so many highly talented individuals who are so deeply committed to providing meaningful educational and co-curricular experiences for our students.”

“I am humbled by the incredible investment many of you make every day to provide thoughtful guidance and support not only for students, but for your colleagues, as well,” she wrote.

Enz Finken noted that friendships made at the university “sustained me through the often incredibly challenging and stressful work of being a provost in a large and complex institution.”

Noting that there is never a perfect time to retire, she said several factors played into her decision, including Armstrong’s leadership, the integrity of her Office of Academic Affairs staff and the engagement of deans, associate deans and department heads and chairs.

Enz Finken also noted that the average tenure of a provost at a large university is about four years.

“While I love my job and have enjoyed my career as a provost, I’m simply ready for the next chapter in my life,” she wrote.

On a personal note, Enz Finken revealed that she underwent “major surgery related to cancer” in the summer of 2015, and the experience has reminded her of other interests she wishes to pursue

She wrote that further information about a search for a new provost will be forthcoming, and though she did not yet have a specific retirement date, she anticipates it will be during the summer following commencement.

According to Transparent California, Enz Finken’s total annual pay in 2014, including salary and benefits, came to $344,556.

Correction: This story has been updated to remove a reference to Cal Poly’s administration and faculty salaries.

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Matt Fountain is The San Luis Obispo Tribune’s courts and investigations reporter. A San Diego native, Fountain graduated from Cal Poly’s journalism department in 2009 and cut his teeth at the San Luis Obispo New Times before joining The Tribune as a crime and breaking news reporter in 2014.