Cal State Long Beach’s President Will Resign : Education: Curtis McCray will take over in March at Millikin University in Illinois, a small liberal arts school. His decision to leave was not unexpected.


After leading Cal State Long Beach through four of its hardest years, President Curtis McCray announced Friday that he is leaving to head a small private college in Illinois.

By March, McCray will be in Decatur, Ill., as president of Millikin University, a liberal arts college with about 1,800 students.

He will be leaving behind a university that in recent years has reduced its student population by about 5,000, cut more than $33 million from its annual budgets, laid off hundreds of part-time faculty members, discontinued some academic programs and eliminated the popular football program.


Although the state university system’s financial crisis has been McCray’s biggest stumbling block, he said it was not the reason for his departure.

“I told them in 1988, when I first came, that I would spend five years here,” McCray said. When an opportunity arose a few months ago at Millikin, the 54-year-old Indiana native said he decided “it would be interesting to do something different” after 22 years of service in public universities.

At Millikin, “the budgeting methods will be very different,” McCray said. “They don’t depend on the state Legislature. And that’s exciting.”

McCray said he spent about half of his time raising funds during his four years at Cal State Long Beach, which, with 30,000 students, is the second-largest in the Cal State system. His efforts paid off. Before his arrival in 1988, the university received between $3 million and $4 million annually in donations. By this year, that figure had increased to $15.5 million.

McCray’s decision to leave was expected by many administrators and faculty members, who said they were saddened to see him go. He was praised for his open-door style of management and for soliciting faculty input.

“I think he did a marvelous job,” said Dorothy M. Goldish, chairwoman of the Academic Senate, which represents the faculty. “This campus had a 30-year period of friction between faculty and administration. In far more troubled times than ever before, we’re working in the spirit of cooperation and respect.”


McCray plans to leave Long Beach in January or early February. An interim president will be appointed while a search committee seeks a permanent replacement.