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

Committees Seek New CSU Chancellor

Humboldt State has no direct input on chancellor search committees.
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Humboldt State has no direct input on chancellor search committees

No one from Humboldt State University sits on the search or advisory committees for the next CSU chancellor, and the closest forum to give feedback to the committee is in Sacramento.

“It’s roughly a dozen people on these committees combined, and unfortunately,” CSU Senior Director of Public Affairs Mike Uhlenkamp said. “Unfortunately we’re not able to get that far north because of the travel considerations.”

The CSU Board of Trustees has appointed a search committee and an advisory committee to select the next chancellor. The search committee includes the Board of Trustees Chairman Adam Day, the vice-chair, current CSU Chancellor Timothy White and eight other trustees.

The stakeholder committee includes two CSU faculty representatives, a staff representative, a student representative, an alumni representative and two campus president representatives. These representatives hail from Sonoma State, San Francisco State, CSU Sacramento, San Diego State, CSU San Marcos, California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly Pomona.

“There isn’t currently anyone from HSU on those committees,” HSU Communications Specialist Grant Scott-Goforth wrote in an email.

According to CSU data, graduation rates are currently at all-time highs. Four-year graduation rates for first-time college students have risen from 19% in 2015 to 27% in 2019, and six-year graduation rates have risen from 57% in 2015 to 62% in 2019.

The two committees are currently undergoing what they are calling a “listening tour” to gather feedback for the search process.

“It’s a fairly tight group and so they went with, for all intents and purposes, the leaders from those groups,” Uhlenkamp said.

Four public forums at Sacramento State, CSU East Bay, the Chancellor’s Office and Cal Poly Pomona were held on Nov. 12, 13, 20 and 22, respectively. Two more public forums were held on Dec. 3 and 5 at CSU San Marcos and Fresno State.

All of the forums can be streamed or viewed online, where you can also submit feedback.

“We are 23 campuses, one university,” Uhlenkamp said. “So we’re looking for everyone to provide some sort of feedback. And everyone’s going to have different forms of feedback, and one of the great things about the University is that we’re so diverse and so different.”

White announced his plan to retire on Oct. 22. He has served as chancellor since 2012 and will remain chancellor until the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

White, a first-generation Argentinian-American, most notably launched in 2015 the Graduation Initiative 2025, a CSU-wide push to increase graduation rates.

According to CSU data, graduation rates are currently at all-time highs. Four-year graduation rates for first-time college students have risen from 19% in 2015 to 27% in 2019, and six-year graduation rates have risen from 57% in 2015 to 62% in 2019.

“The Board of Trustees is very pleased with the current direction of the University,” Uhlenkamp said. “And by direction, I refer to the fact that enrollment is close to an all-time high, graduation rates are at all-time highs, the funding from the state of California is at an all-time high. The dollars that we receive from donors is also at an all-time high—so it’s effectively a golden age of being a CSU student. So they want to maintain that trajectory.”

Uhlenkamp said the committees will take the feedback they receive over the next two months to make a position description and then use that to gather a pool of candidates. Following multiple rounds of interviews, the committees will choose a group of finalists to be interviewed by the full 25-person Board of Trustees.

“More than using students as photo opportunities, we need a Chancellor who will do whatever it takes to secure what students need to succeed.”

Uhlenkamp said the committees want someone who can maintain the current CSU trajectory while also bringing their own vision. As for the longevity of the next chancellor, Uhlenkamp said current higher education leaders tend to serve for shorter lengths than in the past.

“While, yes, we do want to have consistency, I don’t think that there is a specific number put on how long they want this individual to serve for,” Uhlenkamp said.

On Nov. 20, the California Faculty Association wrote an open letter to the CSU Board of Trustees detailing its desires for the next chancellor.

The letter began by asking for a chancellor dedicated to student success.

“More than using students as photo opportunities, we need a Chancellor who will do whatever it takes to secure what students need to succeed,” the letter said. “Knowing that success means more than four-year graduation rates, our new Chancellor should be committed to helping students follow their own paths unfettered.”

The letter went on to call out the lack of labor representation in the stakeholder committee, calling it “a serious oversight.”

“We need a leader who will change the toxic culture of disrespect for labor at the CSU, and value the work of all employees who serve the system,” the letter said.

The letter ended with a request for an open search process allowing participation.

“We look forward to working with a new Chancellor who will partner with us in these efforts,” the letter concluded.

The committees expect to select the next chancellor by summer 2020.

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