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Celestina Barbosa-Leiker Named Dean of CSUF’s College of Health and Human Development

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Following a national search, Celestina Barbosa-Leiker was appointed dean of Cal State Fullerton’s College of Health and Human Development, effective July 1.

Barbosa-Leiker currently serves as executive vice chancellor and a professor in the College of Nursing at Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. 

Her research focuses on substance use in underserved populations. More specifically, her research demonstrates gender differences in the measurement of opioid withdrawal, relapse while in treatment and predictors of relapse. She also studies the transition from pregnancy to parenthood in women with substance use disorders. 

Barbosa-Leiker currently leads an interdisciplinary research team to assess mothers, infants and health care providers in order to better care for women with opioid use disorders, as well as for women who use cannabis during pregnancy. Her National Institutes of Health funding looks at the link between psychological risk factors (stress, depression and substance use), quality of life, community and brain aging in American Indian adults. The results of these studies will help educate health care providers, inform policy and improve standards of care.

“I am incredibly honored for the opportunity to serve as dean of the College of Health and Human Development. The college’s commitment toward working for a healthier and more equitable society maps onto my experiences and expertise, and aligns with my internal values,” shared Barbosa-Leiker.

She believes that the university prepares students to be practitioners and health sciences researchers in an ever-changing landscape by giving them hands-on skills, leveraging technological advances, and understanding student and community needs.

“By focusing on health and science to better serve diverse communities of patients, and by listening to what drives our students into these fields, we can contribute to the well-being and development of our communities and help students find the best path toward their goals.”

She added that CSUF’s rankings, commitment to first-generation students, and designation as a Hispanic, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution demonstrate its track record of supporting historically underrepresented students.

“As a Latina, nontraditional student from Southern California, I cannot think of a better place to serve,” she said. “I look forward to joining the Titan community and working alongside the college’s students, staff and faculty to help improve the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.”

Barbosa-Leiker holds a doctorate and master’s degree in psychology from Washington State University. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in substance abuse from the same institution.

Barbosa-Leiker is an elected member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards for her academic leadership, including the YWCA Woman of Distinction, WSU Sam Smith Leadership Award, and Washington State “Notable Woman of STEM.”

“Celestina has a strong sense of our mission for moving the college forward,” said Amir Dabirian, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I am confident that our campus community will welcome her with open arms.”

Lynn Juliano