Woodbury University names new president

Woodbury University named a new president Wednesday, bringing to an end a six-month search that began after Luis Ma R. Calingo stepped down in February after fewer than three years in the post, citing a mismatch of his abilities and the larger goals of the university’s Board of Trustees.

The private university, founded in 1884, with campuses in Los Angeles — just outside Burbank — and San Diego, has selected David M. Steele-Figueredo as Calingo’s successor. Steele-Figueredo has served as dean of San Jose State University’s Lucas College & Graduate School of Business. His appointment to president will take effect Nov. 16.

David Dauwalder, Woodbury’s provost, has served as interim president since March and will resume his role as executive vice president and provost.

Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence Hurwitz, who headed the presidential search committee, said in a statement that Steele-Figueredo distinguished himself from other candidates through his “vast global business experience and extensive record of building innovative academic and other programs that bring value to students, employers and communities.”

“We were particularly impressed with the culture of openness, collegiality and collaboration he has fostered in all of his roles look forward to putting his considerable talents to work on behalf of the entire Woodbury community,” Hurtwitz said.

Steele-Figueredo said he is committed to strengthening the university’s brand, “its reputation and its special place in the market” beginning immediately. He listed among his top priorities student success, fundraising and alumni engagement.

The former Chevron executive, a native of Venezuela educated at Birmingham University in England where he earned a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in chemical engineering, said he would also seek to create a new degree program or institute for entrepreneurship, “one of the four pillars of a Woodbury education.”

After a career at Chevron and in leadership positions with online startups, a nonprofit and East Coast higher education institutions through the late 1990s and early 2000s, Steele-Figueredo joined San Jose State University’s Graduate School of Business faculty in 2008.

At the Silicon Valley institution, he implemented “centers of excellence” and helped raise nearly $40 million during a recent fundraising campaign, according to Woodbury University’s statement.
In addition to the U.S., England and Venezuela, he has lived in Japan, Belgium, Spain, Barbados and Trinidad.

According to his LinkedIn profile, as dean, he emphasized “practical business knowledge and global business education,” including the Thompson Global Internship Program, through which students live abroad while completing a project for Crown Worldwide Group, according to the internship program’s page on the San Jose State University website.

Steele-Figueredo took Masters of Business Administration courses at the University of California, Berkeley, and was enrolled in the advanced management program of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is married and has two married sons.

“Woodbury truly does transform lives,” he said. “I’m honored to be here at this pivotal moment in the university’s development.”

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