California State University – Channel Islands' Richard Yao.

California State University – Channel Islands' Richard Yao.

California State University – Channel Islands on Thursday appointed Richard Yao as interim president, less than a month after outgoing president Erika Beck announced her move to the same role at California State University – Northridge.

Yao, who currently serves as CSUCI’s vice president for student affairs, was named to the position by California State University Chancellor Timothy White. He is the first person of color to lead the campus; the interim president identifies as a Chinese Filipino American.


He will take over the job on Jan. 11 and will serve through June 30, 2022. CSU trustees will begin the national search for a permanent president in the fall of next year.


“In speaking with campus and community stakeholders, a prevailing theme that emerged was the need to sustain the momentum Channel Islands is experiencing under President Beck, while ensuring that the academic achievement of the increasingly diverse student body continues,” White said in a statement. “Dr. Yao is highly regarded by faculty, staff, students and community members, and brings stability and insight to the campus at a critical time.”


Yao became vice president of student affairs in 2018. He is also a licensed clinical psychologist, previously serving as senior lecturer in psychology for eight years at Nevada State College before becoming the first dean of students on the Nevada State campus.