Chapman College trustees named Allen E. Koenig the 11th president of the small, independent institution Wednesday, ending an 18-month search just in time for the start of a new academic year.
Koenig, who has been president of Emerson College in Boston since 1979, was chosen for his "experience and leadership ability," according to multimillionaire developer George Argyros, chairman of the board. Koenig, a last-minute entry in the presidential contest, was selected over prominent local economist James Doti, who had been acting president since March, 1988.
Although Chapman is now beginning its 129th academic year, "this is the first time the college has chosen an experienced president," Argyros said Wednesday. "The board felt that if we had an opportunity to take an experienced president, that was what we should look for. That was the marked difference."
Koenig, 50, praised Chapman's "diversity, complexity and academic excellence" at a news conference after the board vote. Although he is not expected to begin work until Oct. 1, he will open the fall semester with an convocation address "to set the tone for the academic year" on Sept. 12.
"When I come back to campus on Oct. 1, I want to spend my first few months getting to know the faculty and the students and the staff" before making changes, Koenig said. "Some people believe that if one is analytical and goal-oriented, you don't have a concern for human beings. I can engage in both approaches."
Koenig, whose recent tenure at Emerson has been marred by faculty opposition to the college's planned move to Lawrence, about 30 miles north of Boston, was formerly executive director of USC's Idyllwild campus and executive vice president of Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa.
At an open forum with Chapman faculty Tuesday, Koenig presented his goals for the college and pledged to involve faculty in a wide range of decisions.
"I look forward to working with Dr. Koenig and I look forward to the leadership that he will bring," Paul Frizler, chairman of Chapman's Faculty Senate, said Wednesday. "The whole faculty hopes he achieves his five-year goals. It should be a very exciting year."
Several faculty members gave Koenig high marks for directness and candor, but others expressed anxiety over the changes that he might bring. Among his stated goals were plans to cut back the number of courses offered, to reduce the percentage of tenured faculty, which now stands at 60%, and to increase the student-teacher ratio to 18 to 1.
"It's always a gamble with somebody new," said a professor who asked not to be identified. "When someone comes in from the outside and talks about making programs work or chipping them out, everyone is concerned it is going to be their program."
It remains to be seen whether Doti, who is director of Chapman's Center for Economic Research and author of the annual Chapman Economic Forecast for Orange County, will remain at the college. Doti, a faculty member since 1974, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Argyros, however, publicly thanked Doti for his work and dedication as acting president.
"It was not an easy decision for the board," Argyros said. "Dr. Doti has been a wonderful acting president and really has so many skills. He has served enthusiastically and well."