Posted on by Harshavardhan Kosireddy

In Memoriam: Farrell J. Webb

With heartfelt gratitude for all he did for us in the College of Health and Human Development and at CSUN, we announce with sadness the passing of former Dean of the College, Farrell J. Webb, PhD, on Nov. 14, 2023.  The following was first published in CSUN Magazine. 

At the time of his passing, Webb was serving as provost of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Webb served at CSUN from 2016-23. Previously, he served as associate dean at its sister campus, Cal State L.A.; as well as at Kansas State University and Penn State University.

A California native, he began his education at Loyola Marymount University, earning bachelor’s degrees in sociology/political science and communication arts, with an emphasis in film and TV production. Webb went on to earn master’s degrees in sociology (social psychology) from Cal State Long Beach and New York University (applied statistics), and a doctorate in family social sciences from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Webb chose the doctoral program in Family Social Sciences at Minnesota due to its No. 1 ranking in the nation at the time and the strong links between his interests and those of the program, he later said. After graduation, Webb spent more than 19 years at Kansas State University, where he was an associate professor of family studies and human services, and director of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program. He also spent three years in the Office of the Provost as Kansas State University’s ombudsman.

To CSUN, he brought more than 21 years of public and academic administrative experience to the position, including his two years as an associate dean at Cal State L.A. At his appointment, Webb said he felt lucky to have been appointed dean. “I get to inherit a lot of good stuff and work collaboratively with some amazing faculty,” he said in a 2017 interview.

“The biggest things we want to do here are increase our research footprint by having more [scholarly] articles published, secure more grants and improve our graduation rates. We’re on track for this,” Webb said. “The College of Health and Human Development is also very focused on professional growth, and the faculty are very invested in making sure that happens with their students. They know their students well. The professors and the students have very warm relationships.”

Webb modeled this warmth with an engaging and approachable style. After many years in the classroom and working side by side with undergraduate and graduate students, it was clear that he was much more comfortable telling stories about students’ and professors’ work than discussing his own awards. He was an expansive storyteller, gesturing with a pen and smiling easily.

His office in CSUN’s Sequoia Hall was open and busy with student assistants. It was crucial, Webb said, to let students know that faculty and academic leaders like him were interested in them and that they were there to support students’ progress, success and aspirations.

“I do help people because I know what it’s like to be in the position where you want to get somewhere, but you don’t know how to do it,” he said.

As a scholar and researcher, Webb focused on the statistical analyses, research methodologies and interplay of human sexuality, gender, race and ethnic relations, health, poverty and inequality on well-being. He was a lifetime member of Phi Kappa Phi and earned numerous academic and teaching awards throughout his career.

Olivia Herstein/CSUN Magazine

Scroll back to the top of the page