New Dominguez Hills Chief Hopes to Boost Enrollment

Times Staff Writer

The new president of Cal State Dominguez Hills says his immediate goals will be to boost enrollment at the Carson school and strengthen its ties to the nearly two dozen communities it serves.

“The immediate goal is to create an enrollment management plan I feel comfortable with,” Robert C. Detweiler said Tuesday after his appointment was announced.

Five Finalists

“I personally have the strong sense we must grow to serve the interests of the community,” he added.


Detweiler, a 21-year veteran of the California State University system and vice president for academic affairs at Cal State San Bernardino, beat out four other finalists for the job. The five, all men, were selected from 134 applicants.

“It was a close call,” said William D. Campbell, vice chairman of the Cal State Board of Trustees. “He had a lot of competition. But it was unanimous.”

Detweiler was the only Californian among the finalists. The other candidates included Allan H. Clark, executive director of Educational Consulting Services in Indianapolis; John E. Kerrigan, vice president for academic affairs at the downtown branch of the University of Houston; Herman Lujan, vice provost for instruction at the University of Washington in Seattle, and William E. Moore, chemistry professor and former vice president for academic affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston.

Detweiler, 50, succeeds Richard Butwell, who suffered a fatal heart attack in February, 1987. Since that time, John Brownell, who plans to retire later this year, has served as interim president.

Detweiler is expected to take over at Dominguez Hills within two months. He will become the fifth president of the school, which was founded in 1965. The salary has been $95,500, but Detweiler said he does not yet know what he will be paid.

Detweiler, who holds a doctorate in history from the University of Washington, joined the Cal State system in 1968 as a history professor at San Diego State. He subsequently held several administrative posts at that school, including dean of its College of Arts and Letters, before moving to his present post at San Bernardino.


The 50-year-old educator said the San Bernardino and Carson campuses are similar in that they serve a large number of part-time students who hold down jobs during the day. Also, a large number of students at both schools are the first in their families to attend college and are older than typical college students.

“Twenty-seven is the average age at both campuses,” Detweiler said.

However, the two schools are different in terms of ethnic makeup, he said. At San Bernardino, minority enrollment is about 30%, while at Dominguez Hills it is about 60%. A third of Dominguez Hills’ students are black.

Detweiler did not provide specifics on how he might go about increasing enrollment at the campus. Compared to the San Bernardino campus, Dominguez Hills faces stiffer competition in attracting students, he said.

Dominguez Hills experienced a 16% decline in students between 1982 and 1986, a drop Brownell attributed in part to the decline in students enrolled in Los Angeles’ community colleges. Two-thirds of Dominguez Hills’ students transfer from community colleges, he said.

Brownell and others also have attributed the drop to Butwell’s decision in 1986 to convert from a 10-week quarter to a 15-week semester system, a move that was criticized at the time by faculty members. Butwell and teachers were frequently at odds over enrollment and budgetary issues.

Under Brownell, Dominguez Hills’ enrollment has grown by about 1,000 students, to 8,106. That is just slightly lower than the number enrolled during the early ‘80s.


Although Detweiler said he has not yet determined what academic programs might be added or expanded under his direction, Brownell said the school does not have enough resources to meet the demands of students seeking careers in the health field.

Also, Brownell said that an engineering program is “in the future of the campus.” The university has a pre-engineering program, but students must go elsewhere to earn a four-year degree.