Brian Heisterkamp, professor of communication studies, will serve as interim director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Office of Community Engagement, effective immediately. He steps into the job previously held by Diane Podolske for more than 20 years. She retired in June to rejoin her extended family in Minnesota.

Heisterkamp will continue in this role until a permanent director is selected and reports to interim vice provost Kelly Campbell, said Rafik Mohamed, university provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to work in an office that contributes to the university’s mission and supports students and faculty in their efforts to integrate community partners from the Inland Empire and beyond into their academic pursuits,” Heisterkamp said.

The Office of Community Engagement facilitates partnerships between the university and public and private groups off campus, providing knowledge and resources to enrich scholarship, research and creative activity that benefits the public good. University students, faculty and staff participate in various activities, such as Coyote Cares Day, a day of community service, as well as service-learning opportunities that provide students with practical career-related experiences while assisting community agencies.

Heisterkamp has made numerous contributions to the university and community since joining Cal State San Bernadino in 2001. He currently leads a multi-year grant, Pathways to Success, funded by a Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education. A joint effort with Norco College and San Bernardino Valley College, the program serves Hispanic and low-income students by providing access to education, support for their academic success and opportunities to obtain skills leading to careers in the arts and humanities.

He also serves as co-principal investigator and research director for the Prison Arts Collective, a statewide Arts in Corrections program based at San Diego State University. As a part of his responsibilities, he oversees the collection of research and evaluation data from 14 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prison sites.

He previously served as project director for the Here to Career program, supported by a Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Another joint effort between CSUSB, Norco College and San Bernardino Valley College, the program served and expanded limited institutional resources for Hispanic and low-income students through education promotion, career readiness and problem-based learning activities.

Heisterkamp has authored several publications and given numerous nationwide conference presentations on language and social interaction, conflict management and mediation. He has a doctoral degree in communication from Arizona State University. Additionally, he is a member of the Western States Communication Association, a membership organization with over 1,000 members, and previously served as president in 2018.