Timothy Hengst Takes on New Interim Dean for College of Arts and Sciences


Photo by Ashley Cope - Reporter

Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Timothy Hengst standing in front of a blanket made by his wife in his office.

Ashley Cope, Reporter

This semester a new Interim Dean, Timothy Hengst, stepped up to the plate in the College of Arts and Sciences. Hengst took this position after the previous dean, Jessica Lavariega Monforti, stepped down mid-year; he will hold this position for the next year and a half until a permanent replacement is hired. 

“He is very student centered and puts the student experience first and he is fully committed to the mission of the university,” Sharon Docter Ph.D said in an email interview.

Hengst has been working at California Lutheran University for 22 years, and is a Cal Lutheran alumni, graduating with the class of 1972 where he was an art major and played on the football team. Since working at Cal Lutheran as a faculty member he has served on the Alumni Board, the Board of Regents as an alumni and faculty representative, as well as being the executive director of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company. Hengst also helped develop the Alumni Hall of Fame.

“I love, love the university I have a lifelong commitment,” Hengst said.

This is not Hengst’s first time in this position as Interim Dean either, as he was also the Interim Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences from 2005 to 2007.

“I have always gravitated towards leadership positions at the university,” Hengst said. 

Hengst’s background before coming to work at Cal Lutheran is in surgical medical illustration, and has illustrated over 50 medical surgical textbooks.  He has won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Medical Illustrators in 2013 for his work in the field. 

“I would go in and watch surgeries, do sketches, meet with the doctor and then create illustrations to demonstrate the techniques that he’s doing,” Hengst said. 

Hengst has taught multiple courses at Cal Lutheran including introduction to multimedia, the senior capstone for multimedia, and digital illustration when he is not in leadership roles at the university. 

“As soon as it was announced, I think there was a sense of relief like okay, we aren’t going to have to adjust to someone new but someone who walked through the fire with us especially with the pandemic,” said Haco Hoang who has worked with Hengst since starting at Cal Lutheran 17 years ago. “I think he is like a reassuring blanket at a time when we are all feeling a little cold or a little distressed. He is a really nice comfort blanket in that way,” Hoang said.

Hengst has not always been focused on his academic career but also has a hobby of making sushi.

“I started making sushi probably 20, 25 years ago just as a hobby and I just started learning about it and studying about it and now do pretty extensive sushi making of all different kinds,” Hengst said. 

Hengst has hosted sushi parties, teaching community members how to make sushi as well as making sushi for the opening and closing night parties for the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, which he is the executive director of.  

“He is a listener, he listens to people and responds to people so he doesn’t just make decisions on his own. And he really believes in the university, he’s a graduate of Cal Lutheran so he really cares about this institution. That’s a real positive.” said Michael Arndt who is the artistic director of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company and has worked with Hengst for around 25 years now. 

The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is Cal Lutherans professional theatre company. Hengst has worked to help put on the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company Festival every summer. Unfortunately because of Covid-19, the last two summers have had to be postponed. This summer they will be celebrating their 25 anniversary.

“I know that under Dean Hengst’s leadership, the College of Arts and Sciences and the University will continue to move forward in providing an outstanding education to our students,” Docter said in an email interview.