5 Finalists for President's Post Share Vision of Cal State Dominguez Hills

Times Staff Writer

After two years under interim leadership, a new president for Cal State Dominguez Hills will be selected from five finalists next month at a meeting of university trustees in Long Beach.

The candidates, in interviews last week, said they share with university officials a vision of the Carson campus as a model of what most California institutions of higher learning will become in the 1990s as the state's population and culture become increasingly diverse.

Dominguez Hills, which was built in the postwar years to serve a largely white population explosion in the southern part of the county, now has a 58% minority enrollment.

The five male finalists, selected from 134 applicants in a two-year search, will visit the campus on separate days this week. The board of trustees of the statewide university system will interview the candidates May 16 and announce their choice, a spokesman for the chancellor's office said.

The winner will succeed Richard Butwell, who suffered a fatal heart attack in February, 1987, during a period of campus turmoil. John Brownell, who will retire later this year, has served as interim president during the search for Butwell's permanent replacement.

5 Finalists

The five finalists are Allan H. Clark, 53, executive director of Educational Consulting Services in Indianapolis and former president of Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.; Robert C. Detweiler, 50, vice president for academic affairs at Cal State San Bernardino; John E. Kerrigan, 53, vice president for academic affairs at the downtown branch of the University of Houston; Herman Lujan, 53, vice provost for instruction of the University of Washington in Seattle, and William Earl Moore, 47, chemistry professor and former vice president for academic affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston.

"We are looking for a president who understands the multicultural dimensions and opportunities at Dominguez Hills," said Trustee Claudia Hampton, who chaired the 10-member selection committee. "We want a leader with lots of energy, lots of optimism . . . who sees Dominguez Hills as a microcosm of California's higher education in the next decade."

The committee was composed of three trustees, three faculty members, an administrator, a student, an alumnus and a member representing the community.

Hampton said the committee gave special attention to minority and female applicants, but though minorities were well represented among the applicants, only 10 women sought the position. She speculated that many women who might qualify already have good jobs that they would be reluctant to leave. The current salary for the Dominguez Hills post is $95,500.

Affirmative Action

"Affirmative action was not the determining factor," Hampton said. "We felt we would know the individual who was right for Dominguez Hills, no matter what the sex or color."

Three of the finalists are white, one is black and one is of Hawaiian and Latino descent.

Don Hata, a history professor who served on the selection committee, said the group was "looking for someone who would strip off his shirt and reveal a big "S" on his chest--in short, we need a super-person for this job. We've been in a maintenance mode for two years and now we need someone who can inspire the entire campus community to take a great leap forward."

Hata, Hampton and others credited Brownell, the interim president, with bringing stability to the 8,200-student university after several years of declining enrollment and faculty unrest. Under Brownell's leadership, they said, enrollment has climbed by about 1,000 students, bringing it close to the high mark in the early 1980s. An additional 2,100 students are enrolled in a new nursing program.

In interviews, the finalists said they thought they were selected because their experience and interest in multicultural education fit the leadership needs at Dominguez Hills.

Cultural Diversity

"Developing programs for urban universities has been a driving force in my life for 10 years," said Moore, of Texas Southern. "I believe Dominguez Hills can become a model institution that demonstrates that cultural diversity and excellence can coexist on the same campus."

Moore, who is black, also was vice president for academic affairs at Prairie View A & M University, a branch of Texas A & M in Prairie View, Tex.

Detweiler, of San Bernardino, noted that "higher education in California has a long way to go before it really reflects the diversity of the state's population. Dominguez Hills is an ideal setting for developing the kind of programs that attract more students from the minority communities and help them achieve their highest goals."

Detweiler, who has written papers on racism in the Americas, taught history at San Diego State University, where he also served as dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

Lujan, of Seattle, was vice president for minority affairs at the University of Washington before becoming vice provost. Earlier, he was director of social and environmental studies at the University of Kansas and held a number of teaching posts.

Demand for Scientists

Lujan, a native of Hawaii, said Dominguez Hills can become an important part of a national effort to bring greater numbers of minority students into the mainstream of education. In the next decade, he said, there will be a demand for scientists and other specialists that can "only be met by people of color and women. They are the largest single group available to move in as older people retire."

Kerrigan, of the University of Houston, said the ethnic makeup of Dominguez Hills is similar to that at the Texas campus where he has been academic vice president for four years. A specialist in public administration and urban affairs, his experience includes administrative and teaching posts at the University of Nebraska and the University of Oregon, a stint with the Ford Foundation in Beirut and Jordan, and he has held the position of city manager of Aspen, Colo.

That background, Kerrigan said, would be useful to a Dominguez Hills president in building closer relations with people, industries and institutions in the Carson area.

Clark, of Indianapolis, was president of Clarkson University until 1987, when he helped found the private consulting firm. A graduate of Princeton, he taught at Brown University, where he was chairman of the math department, and then at Purdue University, where he was dean of the school of science for 10 years.

Like other candidates, Clark said the Dominguez Hills presidency would offer an unusual opportunity for an administrator to work in the forefront of a new trend in education.

"Dominguez Hills reflects the future of many other universities, where students are becoming a majority of minorities," he said. "It can set the pace on how such institutions should develop."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World