CORRECTION: The article previously stated that Edward Fink has been interim associate dean since 2014. As of 2017, Fink’s position title is interim dean.
When he was a child, CSUF Interim Dean of Communications Edward Fink spent the first few years of his life on a Kansas farm thinking he’d work in a church for the rest of his life.
“What I knew was, when you grow up, you either become a farmer … Or a school teacher … Or a preacher, and I thought that I would go for preacher,” Fink said.
His early life was filled with playful days of roaming his father’s farmland with his four brothers. When Fink was almost 6 years old, his family moved to what he now considers to be his hometown, Decatur, Indiana where he started and completed his education.
Fink’s mother was a teacher who came from a family of preachers, creating seemingly limited options to what he knew was possible. It was not until high school that he discovered there was much more in the world than he originally thought.
College is where he began his indecisive journey of career paths.
“I remember I enjoyed my physics class very much, and had done well in math. So I thought for a while of maybe joining the Navy and letting the Navy pay for me to become a nuclear physicist, because that sounded kind of cool,” Fink said.
Though when Fink attended graduate school at Indiana University Bloomington, he ended up majoring in theater and drama. Fink auditioned for “Summer Stock,” a production of theatrical plays but soon realized his talent in this area didn’t quite amount to his expectations.
“I can do supporting roles, but I realized I was never going to be Tom Hanks,” Fink said.
With professional acting ruled out, he returned to the idea of joining the Navy – this time, as a pilot. Fink decided to go to a naval recruiting station in Indianapolis to do an aptitude test and returned the following week for a physical and to swear in.
However, after his physical, Fink was informed that he would be unable to attend pilot school for a few years due to health issues. After agonizing about what to do with this unexpected roadblock, he trusted his gut and took a step back.
“I thought about swearing in and going into this without knowing whether or not I’ll even get to be a pilot,” Fink said. “When I thought about going home and finding another path, I felt much calmer. So I walked past the room where everybody was gathering to swear in, I said a quick prayer that God would bless them for serving their country, and I walked away.”
At this point, Fink had decided he did not feel a strong calling to become a preacher, either. So, with naval pilot, actor and preacher crossed off the list, he was on to the next adventure.
Fink then began volunteering at Public Access Television, where he said he finally found his niche.
While working for television stations in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fink learned that those who became general managers in the industry all had master’s degrees. He then went back to school to pursue an additional degree in telecommunications.
While attending Indiana University Bloomington, Fink found joy in working as a teaching assistant. He received positive feedback and evaluations from students, which encouraged him to finish his doctorate and become a college professor.
Shortly after applying for various positions, he received an offer to teach at Cal State Fullerton in 1990. While at CSUF, the university started the Department of Radio-TV-Film, in which he became chair of. Fink also later became the director of the Faculty Development Center from 2013-14.
Shelley Jenkins, a full-time lecturer within the CSUF Department of RTVF (which is now called Cinema and Television Arts) has known Fink for over 25 years and said he was instrumental in making RTVF its own department.
“Ed is excellent at motivating people and getting them to do things with passion for the college and for each individual department,” Jenkins said.
Unexpectedly, when former Dean Scott Paynton resigned, Fink felt he had finally found his place as interim associate dean.
From 2014 until now, Fink has loved his position as the dean of communications, and aims to positively influence students’ lives.
“Whenever I have a decision to make as a dean, whether it’s with budget or curriculum, or space, I always try to ask myself, ‘How is this going to benefit the most number of students?’” Fink said.
His colleague, Brent Foster CSUF interim director of undergraduate studies and general education, first used Fink’s textbook in his classes before meeting Fink at CSUF and later becoming friends.
“He wasn’t just given anything. He earned it one step at a time,” Foster said. “He has built the credentials so that he can walk in a room and make a decision because he’s been there.”
Instead of succumbing to the pressure of having it all figured out at a young age, Fink discovered his answer with time and experience. As a result, he said he has ended up exactly where he feels he is supposed to be.