La Sierra University taps education prof for provost’s post

Steve Pawluk, Ed. D.
Steve Pawluk, Ed. D.

July 7, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( La Sierra University has selected Steve Pawluk, Riverside resident, La Sierra education professor and department chair, to serve as the university’s provost. Pawluk began his new duties July 1.

Pawluk chaired the department of administration and leadership in La Sierra's School of Education and served there as professor of administration and leadership. He replaces Provost Warren Trenchard who left the post to pursue other assignments at the university. Trenchard served as provost for six years. He is also a professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature in La Sierra's School of Religion.

The La Sierra University Board of Trustees on May 13 appointed Pawluk to the position. The provost serves as chief academic officer and chief operating officer for the university.

Pawluk brings to the office 33 years of higher education, administrative, k-12 and church leadership experience, as well as a wealth of knowledge from a variety of past pursuits in reserve law enforcement, politics, welding, contracting and sales. In his spare time, he is a voracious reader of biographies and books on physics and loves to fly his Cessna aircraft out of Riverside Municipal Airport.

Pawluk arrived at La Sierra in June 2007, drawn to the opportunity by his appreciation for the mission and important Biblical values promoted by La Sierra University, he said. School of Education Dean Ed Boyatt presented the position to Pawluk for his consideration during a conference in 2006 in Nashville, Tenn.  

Pawluk, a native of Southern California, arrived at LSU from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tenn. where he was the senior vice president for academic administration for five years. Previously he served as an education professor and dean of the School of Education and Psychology at Walla Walla University. His past leadership roles include serving as superintendent of schools and youth director for the Montana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and serving as a church pastor in Montana and Washington.

During the past three years, Pawluk’s achievements in the School of Education include authoring his department’s Preliminary Credential (Tier 1 Administrator) and Professional Clear Credential (Tier 2 Administrator) accreditation reports for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, leading to full accreditation for each credential program. He also planned and facilitated recruiting activities in public school districts for master’s and doctoral education programs.

At Southern, Pawluk developed a shared vision by involving the faculty and various committees in the development of the Academic Master Plan 2006-2012 with annual measurable benchmarks. He instituted the School of Visual Art & Design Production Company, initialized and developed Southern’s Office of Graduate Studies and launched development of its Virtual Campus.

One of Pawluk’s first goals as La Sierra’s provost will be to work with faculty, administration and staff to develop a new strategic plan for the university, prioritizing specific action steps for innovative programs and new facilities.

“I’m excited about the opportunities that this position offers. I think La Sierra is doing many things well already. If my skill set can help the university continue to move forward, that would be great,” Pawluk said.

“I believe that our denomination and our community need La Sierra,” he continued. “I think [the university] has demonstrated great courage to openly address the complex questions that are sometimes avoided on other university campuses. That gets us in trouble sometimes, but it’s our moral responsibility to help students deal with the hard questions.”

At La Sierra Pawluk said he has found spiritual strength and support. “The presumption that the people I work with love Jesus and are loyal to the denomination allows us to speak freely in an attitude of trust. And in an attitude of trust we can do important work,” he said.

Pawluk’s leadership style involves collaboration and support and is based on the belief that the majority of employees aim for success. “I think most people here believe in the university. My job is to provide the encouragement and the resources they need to do the job,” Pawluk said. “Part of leadership is to help people figure out how to use limited resources now and over time for maximum benefit.”

Pawluk holds a doctorate in education from Montana State University, a Master of Arts in religion from Loma Linda University and a Bachelor of Arts in theology from the La Sierra campus of Loma Linda University. His numerous awards include a leadership fellow appointment in 2004 by the Milton Murray Foundation for Philanthropy, a designation that allowed him to complete a summer institute at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

He also received a “Keep My Fires Burning: Storyteller” Pendleton wool blanket for his support of Native Americans in higher education, and the “Por apoyar la educación en Bolivia” citation for his work with the Universidad Adventista de Bolivia.

Looking back over the years, Pawluk believes everything he has done has prepared him for his newest post, from teaching courses on leadership strategies, fine-tuning assessment systems, faculty development initiatives, directing budgets, fundraising, leading congregations and to participating in community activities.

He grew up in Santa Monica where his parents operated a family construction business. His sister teaches elementary school. Pawluk counts among his chief influences President John F. Kennedy and his ability to use words to inspire the country, “without sounding hollow,” he said, as well as J. Richard Hackman, author of “Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances.” Hackman’s book, which Pawluk read while attending a summer session at Harvard, teaches how to build teams, provide resources and then step out of the way to let the teams do their work. Pawluk has incorporated such concepts into his leadership style. He learned from his father-in-law, Roland Shorter, the art of interpersonal communication and of being a “people person,” he said. And he has been inspired by Dean Boyatt’s ability to facilitate rational decision-making during critical moments and his leading by example.

When he’s not teaching, leading, reading or flying his Cessna, Pawluk may be found target shooting, desert prospecting, or taking walks with his wife, Carol, and their Doberman puppy, Sophie. Carol Pawluk teaches music at Loma Linda Elementary. The couple’s son, Matt, is a research and development engineer at Abbott Vascular in Temecula. Their daughter, Kate, is recently graduated from Walla Walla University with a Bachelor of Arts in history and a minor in philosophy. Fluent in several languages, she is preparing to teach English as a Second Language overseas.


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)


  • Last update on  July 07, 2010