In the beginning of October, Dr. Noel Bezette-Flores began her position as SDSU Global Campus Associate Dean and Chief Student Experience Officer. The move brought Bezette-Flores full circle, as she returned to San Diego — the city where she grew up.
Bezette-Flores oversees the SDSU Global Campus Student Center, which supports students from the start of their journey with SDSU Global Campus until post-graduation. The Student Center focuses on four areas: recruitment, enrollment, retention, and graduation. The Student Center also helps ensure a high-touch experience for SDSU Global Campus students, bringing SDSU’s academic community to the student regardless of location.
When asked why she was interested in taking on the new role, Bezette-Flores cited integration of SDSU Global Campus in SDSU’s strategic plan and the direction of the university as a whole.
“I love innovation, new ideas, and new opportunities and challenges,” said Bezette-Flores. “It’s always exciting to be on the ground floor of something like this.”
Bezette-Flores is a graduate of Palomar College, where she earned her Associates of Arts degree. She then moved to Texas, where she raised five children and earned her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and her Ph.D. in Education Psychology and Individual Differences from the University of Houston.
Throughout her career, Bezette-Flores has focused on facilitating student success, community empowerment, and strategic planning. She’s also worked closely with immigrants, refugees, and homeless youth populations. Bezette-Flores has experience in all facets of higher education, including leadership positions in student affairs, academia, and even professional development.
Her most recent role was at Houston Community-College Central, where she served as the Associate Dean of Student Success and Engagement. Before that, she served as Assistant Dean and Director of Advising for the College of Public service at the University of Houston-Downtown and subsequently was appointed as Executive Director for the Center for Family Strengths and Community Engagement.
Bezette-Flores is recipient of many awards and honors, including the Star Award from the Texas Higher Education Commission for the creation of Two-Plus-Two programs with several four-year institutions. She also has her own day in Houston — Dr. Noel Bezette-Flores Day, Feb. 15 — awarded by the City of Houston and Mayor Annise Parker.
For 23 years, Bezette-Flores was continuously enrolled in college, which influenced her leadership style.
“I’m very strength-based on my approach,” said Bezette-Flores. “I’m very curious and a lifelong learner, so I’m coming in with an open mind and taking that approach with my team.”
Bezette-Flores is beginning her leadership of the Student Center as SDSU Global Campus, and higher education as a whole, is experiencing unprecedented change. In the midst of all these changes, she’s bringing student engagement back to basics.
“All we are as an institution is the people,” said Bezette-Flores. “The campus is beautiful, San Diego is beautiful, but you can’t have that full experience right now. It really is the people, it’s the human beings, it’s that high-touch experience, and that’s what makes the institution.”
For Bezette-Flores, her move back to San Diego is a milestone personally and professionally. Two of her children and two of her grandchildren live in California. Outside of work, she enjoys gardening, jogging, paddle boarding, and traveling.
She has a purpose in her role at SDSU Global Campus.
“I want to create pathways that might not have existed or help strengthen ones that are there,” said Bezette-Flores, “So that people can have a more robust life, and that’s exciting.”