Dr. Sep Eskandari | photo courtesy of MSU Billings

Welcome MSU Billings Provost, Dr. Sep Eskandari!

September 21, 2021

by katie jones backer

MSU Billings is brimming with new faces and energy as the school year gets underway. We welcome Sep Eskandari, Ph.D., Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at MSU Billings to our community and enjoyed getting to learn more of his experience and desire to lead at MSUB. Check out his story below!

Prior to joining MSU Billings, Sep Eskandari served as the Associate Provost for Academic Planning and Faculty Excellence at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). In this role, he had broad responsibilities for Academic Planning and Resources, Academic Affairs Budget, Faculty Affairs, Academic Programs, and Research. He worked very closely with the Provost in all matters related to the day-to-day operations as well as long-term planning for the Division of Academic Affairs. He was an active contributor to key divisional and cross-divisional initiatives, including student and faculty success; multi-year plans related to enrollment, budget, and faculty and staff hiring; university strategic plan; academic master plan; campus master plan; assurance of learning and accreditation; and academic policies, to name a few. Prior to that position, Sep served in other leadership roles, including as Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs, Academic Senate Chair, Academic Senate Vice Chair, and Chair of the Biological Sciences Department.

Sep obtained a B.S. in Chemistry and M.S. in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona, and a Ph.D. in Physiology from UCLA. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship in neurobiology at UCLA, he joined the faculty of Biological Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona in Fall 2000. As a faculty member, he led an active, externally funded research program resulting in numerous peer-reviewed publications with student co-authors. His research focused on the molecular physiology and pharmacology of brain neurotransmitter transporters.

Sep is married to Julie Eskandari and, together, they have a daughter, Lily.

When asked to describe his new position and what drew him to Billings, Sep shared:

[Provost and Vice Chancellor] is the chief academic officer position at MSU Billings. I am responsible for ensuring that academic programs and outcomes are aligned with the mission, vision, and strategic priorities of MSU Billings and serve the local region, as well as the State of Montana. I am eager to work with Chancellor Hicswa and all campus and community members toward advancing the vision and mission of MSU Billings in support of the academic, workforce, and economic development needs of Billings and Montana.

“The vision, mission, and values of MSUB, and commitment to serving students” are what drew him to embarking on this new professional adventure. Sep continued, “My family and I love the range and variety of outdoor, entertainment, and dining options available in Billings. We continue to explore every weekend and find new gems, to our delight.”

Sep already has a huge appreciation for Montana and MSU Billings and is looking ahead with ways to share more of our “hidden treasure” of a university with prospective students.

MSU Billings is a place where students come first. Class sizes are small – student-to-faculty ratio is 14 – which is amazing for a regional, comprehensive public university. Students get to know their professors and learn directly from faculty who are experts in their field. We need to continue to broadcast our successes to the local and broader communities. We need to continue to extend our reach to Eastern Montana communities.

Our academic programs (both degree and certificate programs) need to continue to evolve to meet the workforce needs of today, as well as what students need to have in essential skills to be ready for the future of work. MSU Billings must continue to improve its student success outcomes (retention and graduation) for all students, including closing the equity gaps. MSU Billings must continue to ensure it is meeting the workforce needs of local and state communities and stakeholders. This requires that we are nimble in offering degree and certificate programs in high-demand and emerging areas.

With the fantastic additions of Dr. Hicswa as Chancellor, Dr. Eskandari as Provost, and Michael Bazemore as Athletic Director, MSU Billings is ready to take on this new school year, putting students’ success and safety first, and continuing to expand programs and reach new students. These are exciting times at MSU Billings!

Sep concluded, “My family and I love being here! We thank Billings and its wonderful people for welcoming us with open arms and giving us a new home here in beautiful Montana!”

We wish you well, Sir! Welcome to Big Sky Country!

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