Updated (Oct. 10 at 4:40 p.m.)
Timothy P. White, Chancellor of UC Riverside, was elected to succeed Charles Reed as the new Chancellor of the California State University, which enrolls 427,000 students.
White will be the seventh CSU chancellor and is expected to begin in December.
White, 63, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, immigrated to the U.S. and is a first-generation college student. He has been chancellor for UCR since 2008 and previously served as president of the University of Iowa from 2004-2008.
After attending Diablo Valley Community College, he earned his bachelor’s from Fresno State, a master’s from Cal State Hayward (now called East Bay) and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.
“As Chancellor, I look forward to engaging with faculty, students, staff, campus presidents and CSU trustees, along with the communities we serve, as we advance this vital system of higher education for California’s future,” said White in a statement.
The chancellor search committee, formed externally from the CSU Board of Trustees, met behind closed doors at the CSU Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach. Their last meeting was held Wednesday.
“I was a little bit disappointed in the lack of transparency about this process… We had not heard anything about who the candidates were other than the candidates who had made it public,” said Kevin Wehr, California Faculty Association (CFA) Capitol Chapter president.
Wehr said the applicants should have been interviewed publicly by the CSU community. Interviews for CSU faculty include public presentations and more public searches, he said.
“You always hope for the best, but we got more of the same… I would have loved it if the applicants under consideration had been interviewed by the CSU community,” Wehr said.
While the CFA have stated that they would have liked a more “transparent process,” California State Student Association (CSSA) President David Allison, who sat on the selection committee, said he believed that the students and the other members of the CSU were well-represented behind the closed doors of the selection committee meetings.
He said that on behalf of the CSSA and the CSU students, he is grateful to the CSU for including more student representation in the process.
Michael Uhlenkamp, director of media relations for the CSU, said White’s experience at UCR has adequately prepared him for his duties in the CSU.
“I think specifically with the campus that he helms right now at Riverside, that campus, more than any of the other UCs, really mirrors some of the demographics of CSU campuses, there’s a large commitment to helping underserved students, and there’s a large group of students there that receive Pell Grants, so based on that experience, we do feel that it’s a good fit,” said Uhlenkamp.
Reed, who has held the position for 14 tenured years, announced his retirement in May. The search for his replacement began shortly after.
During his term, the CSU has had to endure historic budget cuts from the state of about a billion dollars. History, Uhlenkamp said, will remember this feat.
“I think people look at tuition increases and they don’t understand exactly why they happen—they take place obviously because of massive cuts in funding,” Uhlenkamp said.
“I think students have a right to be upset and I think Chancellor Reed as well as the campus president as well as anyone who’s working at the CSU is working on behalf of students to try to mitigate that as much as possible,” Uhlenkamp said.
Reed will continue his duties as chancellor through the end of the fall semester, including the implementation of the recent board’s contingency plans for Proposition 30, which will definitively decide the outcome of student tuition, as well as faculty pay, for the next several years.
If Proposition 30 fails, the CSU would institute a 5 percent tuition increase, amounting to about $150 more per student per semester. This will, at its bare minimum, keep the budget where it currently is.
If it passes, however, tuition would “roll back” to fall 2011 prices by reimbursing students $498 that was demanded almost a year ago and caused CSU students all over the state to protest.
White said that he believes he can bring a “unique perspective” to the CSU from his success in fulfilling California’s Master Plan, which mandates that all citizens have a right to education. Additionally, he said similar challenges facing the UC are present in the CSU and that he can help solve them.
“I feel this is a tremendous opportunity for me to try to do more for higher education in this state, at a time that is both precarious and potentially transformative. It is an opportunity to affect the futures of some 430,000 CSU students, and those yet to come,” White said in an open letter to the UCR community.
Kris Lovekin, director of media relations for UCR, said White’s weekly letters to UCR students show his value of communication.
In addition, Lovekin said White takes a firm stand in a crisis, owns up to his mistakes and sees challenges as opportunities to do things more efficiently.
“(The) CSU could not have picked a better person for the role. I am personally sad that UC Riverside will lose him. But as a citizen of California I am trying to see the big picture here. California in general will be better off because of his leadership,” said Lovekin.
Allison said he has faith that White can overcome the obstacles set before him and the CSU as a whole.
“I think he knows what he’s doing, he knows how well it’s gonna go, he knows what to expect… The fact that he’s willing to do it speaks volumes about how much he cares about California and higher ed in California,” Allison said.