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The CEO Higher Learning

Amy Wallace is a Times education writer

Barry Munitz is cramming, like one of his 336,000 students the night before a final exam. It’s 4 in the morning and the chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system sits on a still-made bed in a drab hotel room in east Texas, studying the future of higher education. If the 55-year-old Munitz has a credo, a single organizing principle, it is this: You can never, ever be too prepared. So here he sits amid piles of notes and quotes and statistics and reports, reading and rereading, committing details to his memory, getting ready for his day. * During the next 22 hours, Munitz--natty in navy blazer, paisley tie and striped shirt set off by monogrammed French cuffs--will give four speeches and race through three working meals, advising 200 college leaders how to make their institutions better. He will drive 120 miles and fly 400 more, from Houston to Oklahoma City, touching down just in time for yet another lengthy meeting about his favorite topic: How to make higher education more accountable to the public. * Throughout the day, he calls people by their first names and compliments them on their questions. He quotes poet William Butler Yeats, rock star Bob Seger and IBM chairman Lou Gerstner. Speaking without notes and unaccompanied by handlers, he is charming, even entertaining, and he never flags--staying alert, articulate, on message. * “I’m going to use words like ‘manage’ and ‘consumer’ and ‘product’ that strike terror into the hearts of academics,” he warns his audiences. “There are dangerous things happening in higher education nationally, one of them being this growing disconnect between why people send us money and how we spend it. We need to be a model for closing that gap.”

In both Texas and Oklahoma, Munitz is greeted as a celebrity. “A higher-education blueblood,” one college president calls him, while the chancellor of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents dubs Munitz “one of the handful of individuals who help shape the contours of higher education nationally.” When his last meeting ends at 10 p.m., Munitz plops down on yet another hotel bed. He stays on the phone for the next four hours, returning two dozen calls to colleagues back home in California. Only at 2:30 a.m. does he doze--but with the lights on and fully clothed. He is up again at 5 a.m. for a conference call with education leaders in Washington.

Barry Munitz is not what anyone expects when they think of a college administrator. Instead of a bookish pallor, he has a bronze finish, interrupted only at the temples where his sunglasses block the rays. Instead of a tweedy jacket and a dignified timepiece, he wears colors--a dark-purple dress shirt one day, a cranberry turtleneck the next--and a huge $18 wristwatch. Instead of a sedan, he drives an eggplant-colored Camaro, license plate “CSU CEO.”

His resume is similarly unconventional. For two years, he was a literature and drama professor at UC Berkeley. But he moved so swiftly into administration that he never got tenure and never served as a department head or a dean--jobs usually considered steppingstones to become a university president. Instead, he has something most educators don’t: corporate experience and the wealth that comes with it. For the nine years before he came to Cal State in 1991, Munitz was a top executive at Maxxam Inc., a Fortune 200 holding company. When he took the $197,232-a-year chancellor’s job, it meant more than a 50% cut in pay. Since becoming chancellor, he has donated the equivalent of two years’ salary to the university.

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Add to this Munitz’s broad circle of friends. He’s close to Leon E. Panetta--the departing White House chief of staff and possible contender for California governor in 1998--and chats occasionally with Bill Clinton himself. He’s known former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley since they were both at Princeton, and if Gov. Pete Wilson hasn’t checked in with Munitz recently, “he likes to know that one of [his staffers] has,” says Joe Rodota, Wilson’s point man on higher-education issues. “They really get along.”

Munitz also stays in close touch with corporate and philanthropic leaders--developer Eli Broad, for example, and Harold Williams, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. And then there’s Hollywood. There can’t be many college administrators who were consulted whether “Fatal Attraction” needed a new ending. Paramount Studios head Sherry Lansing, among his closest confidantes, regularly seeks his advice. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t talk to him about,” she says.

But perhaps the most surprising thing about the leader of one of the world’s largest four-year systems of higher education is that he can often be found in nondescript college towns like Nacogdoches, Texas. “People all love to invite me to speak, because when I describe California’s [problems] they feel better,” Munitz will say. But that’s not the reason he makes these trips. Munitz believes that regional systems like Cal State deliver the most important education in the nation. Big research universities, which draw their students from the cream of the crop, put a fine polish on youngsters who have proved they can make it. State colleges, he says, seek to do something much more difficult: transform raw potential into accomplishment.

Given California’s rapidly changing demographics and increasing demands for a more skilled work force, Munitz believes these “comprehensive, inferiority-complex-driven institutions” can no longer be relegated to second-class status. He wants to reclaim respect for the Cal States of America. By dint of long hours, an irrepressible personality and an uncanny ability to mediate between extremes, he appears--against all odds--to be succeeding.

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Before Munitz took charge of CSU, the president of the UC system had always been the state’s preeminent public-college spokesman. Today, that person is Munitz. “I’ve got to be careful here,” says one high-ranking UC official. “But Barry is the leader in this state.” He heads California’s Education Round Table--the elite of the state’s public and private college and K-12 leaders--and is chairman of the Washington-based American Council on Education, the nation’s most prominent higher-education advocacy group. In the fiercely hierarchal world of academia, that Munitz--who represents neither the Ivy League nor a big research university--holds both jobs is especially striking.

“Academic leadership today is not only about internal leadership but about being able to speak directly to the public and the Legislature in terms that are sensible to those audiences,” says Ted Mitchell, a UCLA vice chancellor and former dean of its Graduate School of Education. Munitz is the model of such an approach, Mitchell says. “He’s bilingual: He speaks academic, but he also speaks public. He is a convener of conversations, a translator across the divide.”

Robert Atwell, the recently departed president of the American Council on Education, says Munitz “is without a doubt the best academic political statesman that I’ve ever known.”

UC president emeritus Clark Kerr, meanwhile, calls Munitz “one of the few great successes in leadership in higher education in the 1990s. He has a better understanding of what Cal State can do and is doing than anybody’s had up till now. He’s the best leadership they’ve ever had.”

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Such extravagant praise makes some people nervous. Partly because of his background, partly because of his fondness for speaking of education in corporate terms, partly because he always appears on top of his game, Munitz arouses suspicions. Is he too clever by half, some wonder, an executive who thrives more on manipulating the process than on assuring the best outcome? Ask about Munitz and the conversation veers between two extremes: He is either the last best hope for California public higher education or he is too good to be true.

*

Everyone gets mail from Barry Munitz. mention a hobby, an arcane interest, a detail about your family in his presence and, chances are, the postal carrier will soon deliver a relevant newspaper clipping, cartoon, T-shirt, article or book with a note from the chancellor.

Nancy Y. Bekavac, president of Scripps College in Claremont, recalls a dinner party at which she teased Munitz about his wardrobe by announcing that men who wear white patent leather shoes and white belts are called “full Clevelands.” (Munitz’s outfit only ranked a half Cleveland, she says.) Munitz had never heard the phrase. But within days, he had sent Bekavac a page from former White House speech writer Peggy Noonan’s memoirs, where the term appeared, and a novel with the phrase as its title. “I don’t have time to brush my teeth twice a day, and this guy is out looking for ‘full Cleveland’ memorabilia!” Bekavac remembers thinking. Such a quick turnaround is typical, whether the subject is silly or serious. “You could have a file that says, ‘Barry Munitz Mail,’ but you wouldn’t have room for it,” she says. “I’ve concluded he doesn’t sleep.”

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Not only his friends get mail. Munitz and Assemblyman Bernie Richter (R-Chico) have clashed publicly over how Cal State implements affirmative action--at one point, the conservative lawmaker compared Munitz to “a red-necked bigot.” Nevertheless, Munitz recently sent Richter documents, culled from a Harvard University conference the chancellor attended, that supported Richter’s view that race and gender preferences should be abolished. “I don’t find this persuasive, but I bet you will,” Munitz told the assemblyman. “If you haven’t seen it, have a look.”

This is the Munitz way. He starts sentences with phrases such as, “You know this better than I do” or “I don’t think there’s any question that your statement is right.” You may enter a conversation disagreeing with him, people joke, but you’ll soon come around to his view--and yet somehow believe it was your idea all along.

At first glance, Munitz’s manner may seem like a parlor trick--a Dale Carnegie-style maneuver to win people over. But Munitz’s personal touch is much more than a public relations gimmick: His charisma is a fundamental part of his success. “It’s incredible to watch him,” says John Slaughter, president of Occidental College. “He knows everyone. He’s omnipresent.”

The Cal State system has its roots in the state’s 19th-century teaching colleges. Over the years, it has expanded its mission, now offering 1,600 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in 22 cities from Arcata to San Diego. Today, in addition to teachers--and CSU still trains most of the state’s K-12 instructors--it produces 50% more business graduates and more computer scientists and engineers than all other California universities and colleges combined.

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Five years ago, when Munitz became chancellor, Cal State was struggling with feelings of inferiority. Drawing students from the top 33.3% of California high school graduates, CSU educates more than twice as many people as UC. But UC is more choosy, enrolling only those who rank in the top 12.5%. While the majority of UC students come straight from high school, many Cal State students are “nontraditional"--the average student is 27 and works 30 hours or more per week. CSU has no professional schools other than architecture and grants no Ph.Ds; under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, that role is reserved for UC.

Some of the tensions at Cal State stemmed from a system that Munitz couldn’t hope to change overnight. Research universities such as UC tend to be seen as more prestigious, regardless of the number of people they serve or the quality of undergraduate instruction they provide. But Cal State’s difficulties had been exacerbated by a central administration that ruled with a heavy hand. One former trustee recalls that, for years, campuses weren’t even allowed to install artwork without approval. W. Ann Reynolds, the previous chancellor--described by one critic as “as subtle as a guided missile"--had left the institution demoralized: Board members were at each others’ throats and deep budget cuts were forcing the university to do more with less money from the state.

The place had problems, and so did Munitz. Although he had an impressive academic vita--five years as the chancellor of the University of Houston, four more as the University of Illinois’ academic vice president--his most recent job was as vice chairman of Maxxam Inc., a Houston-based holding company. During Munitz’s tenure, Maxxam was involved in the failure of a large savings and loan association and in several controversial takeovers, including one that led to increased harvesting of Northern California’s old-growth redwoods. Many in the state--most of them Democrats--weren’t thrilled about Munitz’s arrival.

Munitz remembers that Assemblyman John Vasconcellos, the Santa Clara Democrat who for years has been one of higher education’s best friends in Sacramento, “put me on the grill the first couple of times we met, saying, ‘I’m not happy to have you here given where you’ve been.’ ”

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Munitz was undaunted. A man who one colleague says “has never met a meeting he doesn’t like,” Munitz set out to woo supporters and skeptics alike. He dropped in on legislators, looked up former Cal State board members and sought the advice of anyone he thought could help--from corporate leaders to retired university presidents. His goal: To identify each constituency’s predominant concerns. “Tell me what your bottom line is,” he would say. “If I know that, I can try to solve the problem.”

“He got around like nobody I’ve ever seen to meet the key people and make them understand him as a person,” says Denny Carpenter, a former Republican state senator who now runs one of California’s top lobbying firms. “I don’t know which party Barry belongs to. He relates to the spectrum.”

From the start, people noticed Munitz’s corporate bent. One of his first actions as chancellor was to increase private fund-raising--virtually nonexistent when he arrived--by making it part of the job description of Cal State presidents. Today they are evaluated on how much their campuses raise every year. In return, Munitz also gave presidents more running room, urging them to take more initiative and backing them up when they did.

When state funding cuts threatened campus budgets, Munitz opted to cut his own staff first, trimming central administration in Long Beach from 700 to about 500. At the same time, he was lobbying legislators and the governor to decentralize the budgeting process and let Cal State have the flexibility to manage its own funds.

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Munitz was determined to send the message that Cal State stood for quality. After state appropriations began to dwindle in the early 1990s, Munitz tried to force the Legislature’s hand by announcing a “downsizing” enrollment policy. To absorb more students without more funding, he said, would increase the student-to-faculty ratio and undermine the learning experience. Instead, Munitz vowed to only enroll as many students as the state would pay for.

Though it was short-lived, that policy--combined with marked jumps in tuition--led Cal State to lose students. (Enrollment fell by more than 50,000 between 1990-'91 and 1994-'95, though it has recently begun to rebound.) Critics contended that the deliberate enrollment reductions denied thousands of students access. But Munitz felt it made an important point: a Cal State education was worth defending.

With no new capital funding in sight, Munitz also managed to expand, transforming facilities such as Fort Ord Military Base in Monterey. (Munitz jokes that he wanted to name the campus CSU Fort Ord--or CSUFO. “That’s one of the only battles I’ve had with my board,” he kids.) More recently, Munitz pushed to change the way the faculty is paid, instituting a controversial “pay for performance” model. That move--labeled as a morale-buster by some faculty--was essential, Munitz says. “I’ve got to have leverage and restraint mechanisms--they are what make a big institution work,” he says.

Throughout all this, Munitz has worked to mend the fractious Cal State board. Its lack of public strife contrasts sharply with the UC Board of Regents, which has fought openly and bitterly about affirmative action. When UC regents voted to do away with race and gender preferences, the meeting was secured by more than 300 police officers who arrested several demonstrators. By contrast, when Cal State trustees took up a contentious proposal to scale back remedial education six months later, fewer than a dozen police guarded the room. Munitz arranged to have coffee and doughnuts served to protesters.

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“I’m the first one to put down feel-good leadership if it doesn’t lead to anything else,” says Patrick Callan, whose California Higher Education Policy Center has positioned itself as one of the state’s leading watchdog groups. “But when [Munitz] took over, the CSU [system] had been held up to scorching ridicule. That he has given the system a more positive sense of itself is one of those intangibles that doesn’t spell out success, but is a condition of success.”

Callan does have doubts. Munitz’s savvy management and natural political skill are undeniable, he says, but does the chancellor have any academic priorities? “That’s the question mark,” Callan says. “He has built an enormous amount of strength into CSU and a lot of personal support for himself. Will he be able to use that to really translate into significant changes in educational policy? What is the future going to hold?”

*

To understand Barry Munitz, consider his thumbs.

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Forty years ago, when Munitz was attending Erasmus Hall High School in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, he used to bite his fingernails to the quick. His mother, Vivian, was raising him and his younger sister alone, without much money. His cuticles bore the brunt of his adolescent anxiety. Then, one day, he decided to stop. “The mediator in me made a deal with myself,” he recalls: “See if you can let the eight fingers grow, and you can bite your thumbs.” To this day, the nails on his fingers would make a manicurist proud. His thumbs are a ragged mess.

“I’m a better mediator than a negotiator,” he says. “I always understand everybody’s perspective. My first instinct isn’t to define the extremes and draw the line. That’s the way I was raised.”

Munitz’s family came to Brooklyn from Eastern Europe. He grew up hearing Russian and Yiddish--two of his four grandparents never mastered English. His father, Raymond, the only member of the family who had gone to college, taught Munitz how to play chess when he was 3. Four years later, he disappeared, and when he turned up, announced that he’d gotten a divorce. Munitz shared a chilly, mouse-infested tenement apartment with his mother and sister. Reading, Munitz says, was his escape--an activity that his family and neighbors, many of them Jews who had been forced by the Nazis to flee their homelands, encouraged.

“You heard over and over that your leverage in life was what you carried in your head,” says Munitz, who calls his overstocked bookshelves “my security blanket.” His father’s departure also shaped the way he interacts with the world. “When what you’ve cared about has disappeared, you learn you can’t take relationships for granted. You’re working every day to try to be sensitive enough to other people that you get some caring back.”

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He went to Brooklyn College because it was free, majoring in classics and comparative literature. He lived at home and worked full time at night and during the summers to help support his family. “The reason I understand CSU so well is that I never was in a fraternity or lived on campus or had this notion that students were people who just went to school and studied,” he says. “That was totally foreign to me.”

After winning a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he headed for Princeton University to earn an advanced degree in comparative literature and finished in two years--less than half the normal time. He got a job at UC Berkeley and, before heading west, visited the head of his program. The professor--striking a chord that would resonate throughout Munitz’s life--rebuffed him. “He said, ‘You’re not going to be a professor of literature. You’re going to be a politician. You’ll go out to Berkeley, and I’m sure you’ll pull the wool over their eyes for a while. But I don’t want to talk to you as if it’s one scholar to another.’ ”

After less than three years on the Berkeley faculty, Munitz gave up teaching. He had caught the eye of Clark Kerr, who was leaving the UC presidency to become chairman of the Carnegie Foundation Commission on Higher Education. Kerr hired Munitz as a staff associate.

At age 30, Munitz became an administrator at the University of Illinois. Five years later, he was appointed chancellor of the University of Houston-Central Campus. Then, in 1982, he took a detour. Houston financier Charles Hurwitz persuaded Munitz to work for him at Maxxam Inc. Munitz was there for nine years, during which Hurwitz became known as Texas’ takeover tycoon. As Hurwitz used junk bonds to buy such companies as Pacific Lumber and Kaiser Aluminum, Munitz specialized--as usual--in diplomacy. As Hurwitz was being reviled as environmentalists’ enemy No. 1, Munitz courted various constituencies, trying “to find the place, if possible, where both sides’ interests were being served.” During this period, a colleague began introducing Munitz simply as “Hurwitz’s conscience.”

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Munitz made a lot of money at Maxxam--enough, he says, so that he need never work again. And he learned a lot--about politics, regulation, management and the importance of a strong governing board--that he believes now helps him tackle Cal State’s problems. But Maxxam saddled him with some ugly baggage. In 1995, the Treasury Department’s bank regulatory agency filed a civil suit against the company, Hurwitz and Munitz, among others, for allegedly contributing to the $1.6 billion failure of a Texas savings and loan. The case is still being negotiated.

Munitz remains unapologetic--even proud--about his Maxxam days. He helped build a successful company that employed thousands of people, he says, and “learned this is a hard-nosed, priority-setting, difficult world.” Yes, he acknowledges, more old-growth redwoods were felled while he was at the company. But he insists that came after a new inventory found Pacific Lumber had more trees than previously believed. Sure, a Maxxam development in Rancho Mirage was built on a bighorn sheep habitat. But Maxxam donated more than half its land--and a chunk of money--to a bighorn research institute, he says. Besides, no one had seen sheep on the property for years until Maxxam landscaped it, luring hungry sheep to “start eating $50 a day in flowers.”

“I don’t know how you make the change if you don’t jump into the muck, getting in the middle of the machinery and trying to make it better,” he says. “Do people genuinely believe that Maxxam would be a better company if anybody with decent motives walked away and wouldn’t have anything to do with them?”

Paradoxically, while many see Munitz’s corporate interlude as a black mark, others prize him for it. His trustees--many of them men and women of business--say Munitz understands them. Lansing--who takes a break from running Paramount Studios every year to spend Thanksgiving in Mexico with Munitz and Anne, his wife of nine years--remembers that when she first met him, in Houston in the mid-1980s, “he was already talking about how he knew he had to return to academic life because he felt his soul was empty.” Early on, when Munitz’s corporate ties prompted opposition to his candidacy from state Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) and former House Speaker Willie Brown, Lansing called both on his behalf. Don’t judge Munitz, she asked, until you’ve met him.

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Still, Munitz hasn’t won everyone over. Hayden, a persistent opponent of student fee hikes who chaired the Assembly Higher Education Committee when Munitz came to Cal State, fears that his charm blinds people to his flaws. “He’s a very articulate, intelligent person--by no means a corporate raider stereotype. So it’s seductive. But that’s a big turnoff if you know what’s behind the smile: a downsizer,” says Hayden, who believes that the 69% fee increases during Munitz’s reign have driven too many students away. “At the end of the day you don’t quite know where Barry is. But you do know this: He’s never fought downsizing.”

*

One of Barry Munitz’s favorite movies is “Broadcast News,” the story of a hard-charging neurotic TV producer (Holly Hunter) and the pretty-boy anchorman (William Hurt) who represents everything she hates about the dumbing down of network news. In the scene that sticks in Munitz’s memory, Hunter confronts Hurt with her discovery that he has faked his own tears on-camera.

“You totally crossed the line between what is ethical and what is garbage!” Hunter tells Hurt.

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“It’s hard not to cross it,” Hurt responds. “They keep moving the little sucker, don’t they?”

It’s not Hunter whom Munitz relates to, but Hurt. “In this complex world, it’s dangerous to make facile assumptions about absolutes,” he says. “People are so quick to say, ‘How could you do that? That’s out of bounds.’ But even what’s clear to them one day, to the same person in the same situation a week later might not be clear at all.”

Munitz offers the movie as a way to understand him. You see, he knows that some people think he’s a manipulator. People have been accusing him of it all his life. “Someone said to me a long time ago, ‘You seem to go out of your way to tell people whom you don’t need to things you don’t need to tell them. It can’t just be that you’re simply open and outgoing. Either you’re dumber than I think or you’re so clever that it’s not a good thing.’ ”

Lately, however, it is Munitz’s silence, not his openness, that has prompted skepticism. Faced with a controversy that directly affected Cal State--Proposition 209, the statewide initiative to ban affirmative action--Munitz did not take a public position. When his 23 campus presidents wanted to draft a joint statement condemning the ballot measure, Munitz counseled against it, urging them to speak out individually instead. Don’t do something just to feel good, he said, that will ultimately draw the wrath of the governor, hurt the institution and not accomplish your aim.

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“It would have been nice to stand up at the [CSU] board meeting in September and say, ‘Let me tell you how I’m going to vote [on Proposition 209] and how I hope all of you are going to vote.’ But I have to ask where’s the benefit?” he says, explaining that he was more effective working behind the scenes. “If I’m disenfranchised, then there’s nobody to fight the battle that I’m fighting.”

Hayden says a similar argument was used to justify Munitz and others’ decision not to actively protest tuition increases. “The silent acquiescence is what I feel is a great tragedy for California families,” Hayden says. “He hasn’t fought [fee hikes]. He’s administered them.”

For many--even some who admire Munitz--his reluctance to fight in public is troubling. By quietly letting the issues play out in hopes of finding a middle ground, is he being a shrewd tactician? Or a coward? Is it leadership to pull your punches in the short term to assure long-term goals? Or do true leaders take risky public positions and seek to bring others around to their view?

“If you asked, ‘Name a higher-education leader you’d most like to spend the evening with, someone who will bring [to the table] lively talk, grace and wit,’ Munitz is one of the few who comes to mind. The boy is slick. So nimble, so agile,” says John D. Maguire, president of Claremont Graduate School. “But is he ultimately full of courage? I don’t know.”

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Munitz says he does have a bottom line, a point past which he won’t compromise. But he acknowledges that he rarely, if ever, reaches that limit. “Like a mouse in a maze, I’m going to bang my nose against every door to see if I’ve got a way to solve [a problem] that causes the minimum hurt and disruption to those things that are important,” he says. “You run the risk of being easy to describe as someone who will always compromise or settle. I think, though, that over time, the track record is a lot of battles have been fought and a lot of things have been gained.”

Today, Munitz’s agenda is to shore up Cal State’s role as what he calls the socioeconomic engine for mobility and economic development in the state. He is committed to using the university’s new merit-raise system to reward professors who transmit knowledge through teaching, not just to those who discover knowledge through research. He also says it is Cal State’s responsibility “to try to stop this hemorrhaging of inner-city school education"--a complex problem that can only be solved by improving the training of K-12 teachers, Cal State’s original mission.

Already, he and his top administrators are courting the politicians who are likely to seek the governorship in 1998. He considers it essential that, by next summer, each candidate be briefed on the challenges that face public higher education, from “Tidal Wave II"--the expected surge in the state’s college-age students during the next 10 years--to the continuing battle for funds.

People are always gossiping that Munitz, whose five years in the job already exceeds the national average for college presidents, is a short-timer at Cal State. He could run the Carnegie Foundation, some speculate, or the Getty Trust. Last year, he was among the contenders to fill the UC presidency. “There are not very many jobs in American higher education,” Atwell says, “that Barry couldn’t get if he wanted.”

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But Munitz says he’s staying put. The Carnegie or the Getty? He’s too young, he says. UC? It’s not the type of institution he finds most exciting right now. “I’m planning to be here as long as [the trustees] want me to be here,” he says.

In fact, he’s busy recruiting others to join him. When state Sen. Gary Hart--a former teacher and an expert on K-12 education--left the Legislature, Munitz begged him to come to CSU. Hart now runs Cal State’s Institute for Educational Reform, which focuses on reading instruction, teacher training and academic standards. Munitz recruited Tom Ehrlich, the former president of Indiana University, to work on the Cornerstones project--an attempt to draft a plan to guide Cal State into the next century. Most recently, Munitz lured Bobbie Metzger from her powerhouse public relations firm Stoorza, Ziegaus, Metzger & Hunt. Munitz says he told Metzger: “I know you’re making a ton of money. But you’ve made money. You need to be doing what I’m doing. You need to give back now.” Metzger, a Cal State alumna, will be helping the university educate lawmakers and the public about its mission.

Mediating, not negotiating. Cajoling, not confronting. Keeping his most controversial opinions to himself and his focus on the distant goal. This is how Munitz believes he accomplishes most. Those who know him best say that, for this chancellor at least, it seems to work.

“Barry has both a broader vision and a longer view than any higher education leader I have ever known,” says Molly Corbett Broad, Cal State’s executive vice chancellor and Munitz’s second-in-command. “He can not only tolerate but feel completely comfortable at a level of ambiguity that will drive many people nuts.”

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