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Retirement rhetoric

California State University Chancellor answers questions on Rossbacher retirement

The process for Humboldt State University President Lisa Rossbacher’s retirement is underway and controversy looms in the search for a replacement.
CSU Chancellor Timothy White visited HSU on Oct. 9 to discuss the process of retirement for Rossbacher.

“We will be back on campus in early February,” White said. “With a joint committee of trustees, myself and many members of the community here.”

White said that the committee will also consist of an Associated Students member, staff, faculty and a university stakeholder representative. This committee will be used to create a job description for the presidential position so the best applicable candidates can apply. Ultimately the initial 40-60 applicants will be reduced to around six final candidates.

The final six will have in person interviews at an undisclosed airport hotel on a tentative date in either March or April. From this group of six three finalists will be presented to the board of trustees of the CSU system in Long Beach sometime between May 15 or 20.

“At the end of the day they are the ones who have the authority to make the final decision,” White said. “They are the only ones with the authority to do that.”

White mentioned the controversy that has surrounded Rossbacher’s presidency as well as communications with HSU community on major decision making.

“I don’t anticipate that any president on any campus will not have controversy,” White said. “The question is, how do you go into things that are difficult and engage the right people.”

White said he believes decisions made at HSU were made in full discussion with “local stakeholders,” as well as with those who work across the CSU system.

He touched on how these decisions are difficult to make across the CSU system and how many are a result of the lack of resources in our educational system.

“There is always more demand then we have capacity for and it’s not if the decision making has been easy,” White said.

White met with Arcata Mayor, Sofia Pereira, City Manager Karen Diemer, Interim Chief of Police Richard Ehle and other law enforcement and city representatives to talk about new information and their perspectives on the David Josiah Lawson murder case. While White could not provide any new details or information he has learned about the case, he was able to touch on his meeting with student representatives and organizations.

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CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White with the Arcata Interim Police Chief Richard Ehle on Oct. 9 at HSU. | Photo courtesy of Humboldt State University

“[Student feedback] was wide ranging and obviously everyone agonizes over Josiah’s death,” White said. “We had a conversation about safety, both emotional and physical safety, and about microaggressions.”

White was also asked if he had notified Charmaine Lawson that he was coming to HSU to meet with both student and law enforcement representatives to talk about Josiah Lawson’s case and safety for people and students of color here on campus and off.

“Not to my knowledge, no,” White said.

When asked directly about a lack of safety for people of color here on and off campus, White said safety is the CSU system’s ultimate goal whether it was being achieved or not.

“I want to be very clear of the goal,” White said. “I want our campuses to be welcoming and inclusive, so anybody, regardless of their background and their demographic can be a successful student.”

The question of how the hiring process will address HSU’s lack of diversity between students and staff was also asked. While White did not give a solid plan to address this problem, White did say that he would like to make cultural changes and not just address this problem numerically.

“It’s one thing to have numbers and say ‘haha we did it.’ That’s superficial,” White said. “It’s whether you have a range of people of different backgrounds coming together in a community to inform and educate the next generation.”

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