Harmsen brings almost three decades of academic experience to her new role of provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, which is second highest position at the university.
Harmsen earned a Bachelor of Science degree, a B.Sc. (Hons) 1st Class and a Ph.D. in geology from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She served as a faculty member, department chair, and associate dean and is currently the dean of the colleges of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico.
Harmsen will step into her new role in February 2014. Charles W. Gossett is currently serving as interim provost and vice president after Joseph F. Sheley took the reins at Stanislaus State as president in June of 2012.
In a press release, Sacramento State University President Alexander Gonzalez said, "I was impressed during the interview process by Dr. Harmsen’s comprehensive experience as a teacher, researcher and leader. She has managed colleges and departments during challenging budgetary times while always focusing on the future and preparing graduates for dynamic careers. I have full confidence that Dr. Harmsen’s collegial, thoughtful approach will strengthen our campus and create new opportunities for our students."
Harmsen's work includes initiatives to promote student diversity in science and engineering, and promoting science, technology and math curriculum in K-12 education.
Her recent research includes a $650,000 grant to investigate paleontological resource mitigation of the Fairmead site in Madera County and $300,000 from the National Park Service for benthic habitat mapping of Channel Islands National Park.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the students of such an excellent university and work with the talented faculty and staff of Sacramento State,” Harmsen said in a prepared statement. “Public higher education in California has entered an era of transformative technology and greater demands for accountability, and partnering with the campus community and leaders in the region to shape Sacramento State’s success is both challenging and exciting."