Finalist for Top San Jose State Job Withdraws

From Staff and Wire Reports

The finalist for president of San Jose State University withdrew her application Tuesday, citing financial reasons and strong objections to her candidacy from some prominent alumni.

A group of affluent alumni who objected to the slate of minority and women finalists for the job threatened last week to end financial support of the university unless the application process was restarted.

Additionally, Latino and Asian-American groups objected because only finalist Ruth Leventhal's name was submitted to the California State University Board of Trustees this week for consideration. No minority candidates were included.

Leventhal, the 51-year-old dean and provost of Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, said in a letter to the board that she withdrew because of controversy surrounding the presidential selection process. She also said she would have lost money by accepting the job, which pays $116,000 to $124,000 a year, if the board had offered it to her.

"Unfortunately, despite the strong support and good feelings I had from those I met, there is so much contention which has been raised about the process, and so much uncertainty about state budgetary support, that I don't believe this is the right time for a transition to a new presidency," Leventhal wrote.

"These concerns, coupled with the severe financial loss I would have to assume, given the limited support available for the new president, have weighed heavily in my thinking about this step."

The Cal State trustees had authorized negotiations with Leventhal, but the high cost of housing in Northern California became one of the sticking points, according to trustee Martha Fallgatter, who headed the search committee. It will be at least a few months before the search process begins again, Fallgatter said.

Meanwhile, J. Handel Evans will continue as interim president, replacing retired President Gail Fullerton.

University system Chancellor Barry Munitz said he was disappointed that Leventhal felt she had to withdraw, especially since she had received unanimous support from the school selection committee.

"Most of those who urged the discontinuance (and restarting) of the search for all the wrong reasons should take no comfort in this situation. Ruth was a very impressive finalist, and our loss is Harrisburg's gain," Munitz said.

Leventhal was among six finalists for the job to run the 32,000-student university. The finalists, picked from more than 80 candidates nationwide, included three women, one Latino, one black and one Asian-American--a selection to which a small group of mostly Anglo alumni objected.

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