New business dean brings tech savvy and love of teaching

Anabel Martinez
Arts Editor

The University of La Verne appointed Emmeline de Pillis as the new dean of the College of Business and Public Management on July 12. 

In her first several weeks on the job, she met with college program directors via Zoom many times to understand the operations here at ULV.

“I see my role as just building on strengths,” de Pillis said. “We have so many strengths at La Verne and at CBPM and I feel very fortunate that I’m in a position to build on those.”

Faculty and students said they believe her extensive experience in both research and academia will be a great addition to the La Verne community. 

De Pillis was previously interim dean for University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Business and Economics. During her 23 years there, she led the Executive Education Program designed to allow adults with an established career to network and take courses in topics like business strategy or social media marketing without earning college credit.

“Because she’s from outside of La Verne, she has a fresh perspective, fresh eyes, to look at how we do things and come up with solutions and creative ideas,” said Kathy Duncan, professor of management.

De Pillis completed her bachelor’s degree in computer science at UC San Diego. As an undergraduate, she often painted art murals on people’s dorm walls for extra money.

After graduating from UCSD, she started working for Hewlett Packard providing telephone customer support, where most new hires were placed to learn about their products.

De Pillis received her Ph.D. from University of Southern California’s  Marshall School of Business, where she was able to teach her own section of a principles of management class during her program.

“I wasn’t scared to stand up in front of a classroom,” de Pillis said. “Sometimes people who are teaching for the first time get that stage fright. So thankfully, I did not have that because I already had a lot of sales training experience.”

De Pillis said graduate school helped her learn how to empathize with and understand all the different issues that can come up in a classroom.

“When I got out of grad school, I wanted to work at a place that had a balance of research, but also a real focus on teaching the student,” de Pillis said.

After serving as an interim dean at the University of Hawaii Hilo’s School of Business and Economics, de Pillis is eager to be student-focused in the La Verne community.

“Knowing the program in and out and knowing all the possible variations is so important (to ensure the successful graduation of a student),” de Pillis said. “For example, say you transfer a class over from a school that’s on the quarter system and not the semester system, then you get to graduation and you realize you’re a third of a credit short.”

“When I was an undergraduate, I never thought I’d be working at a help desk. I knew I wanted to work with technology, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that would look like,” de Pillis said. 

She moved up to do sales training and product management for Hewlett Packard and even got the chance to do an overseas assignment in Germany for six months. De Pillis said it helped her realize she enjoyed collaboration and teaching others.

“That’s how I ended up getting into academia. I really enjoyed going into a room (with others) and helping them learn something that makes their lives better. It’s like you’re creating something out of nothing,” de Pillis said. “So that’s when I went back to grad school.”

At La Verne, de Pillis said she is looking for ways to make processes smoother such as course planning for students and advisers to ensure on-time graduation.

“As you may know, we’ve had some loss of enrollment over the past few years, but I’m hoping she has some innovative thoughts to try to help turn some of that around,” Duncan said.

Suzanne Beaumaster, professor of public administration, said she thinks de Pillis will be a great dean as she has already proven to be proactive by meeting with the business faculty.

“I also found her to be an active listener, which is really nice for somebody in that position to be engaged with faculty and program directors,” Beaumaster said.

​​De Pillis said she has enjoyed meeting new students, faculty and staff on La Verne’s campus, often stopping for lunch at The Spot.

Nickolas Mclean, junior business administration and theater major and the Associated Students at La Verne senator for the CBPM, said he will be meeting with her bi-weekly to represent business student needs.

“I think that she’s very ambitious. There’s a lot to do to make the College of Business students overall more satisfied and more content. I think that she’s ready to take that all on,” Mclean said.

De Pillis said her big wish, but certainly not a plan, is to have a place where the College of Business and Public Management students and faculty could congregate and interact. She said she would love to be physically closer as the business classes at ULV are divided between four buildings.

“I really recommend to everybody to at least take an intro to business class, no matter what you are majoring in and maybe even consider being a business minor. I think (taking one as an undergraduate) would have helped me a lot to understand what the world of work was like,” de Pillis said. “Even if you’re a dance major, you might want to open your own dance studio someday.”

Anabel Martinez can be reached at anabel.martinez2@laverne.edu.

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Anabel Martinez is a senior digital media major with a concentration in film and television, and a journalism minor. She serves as the managing editor overseeing all of the Campus Times sections and was previously editor-in-chief in Spring 2022.

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