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Search for a New CSUN Leader May Take 6 Months

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The search for a permanent replacement for departing Cal State Northridge President Blenda J. Wilson very likely will take up to six months, with the new president not expected to begin work until January, officials said Wednesday.

“We’ll call it a millennial presidency,” Cal State system spokeswoman Colleen Bentley Adler said.

In the meantime, an interim candidate also will be sought, possibly from another CSU campus or from a pool of retired educators, officials said.

Wilson surprised the campus Tuesday when she announced she would leave in June after nearly seven years as president to head a nonprofit educational foundation in Massachusetts.

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The two men whose opinions on a successor will carry the most weight, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and William Hauck, chairman of the board of trustees, say they will look for an experienced, press-savvy educator to run one of California’s largest universities.

“We need somebody who has vision, a good leader,” Reed said. “We need somebody that can take the university to the next level. Somebody with presidential experience, academic experience, who can motivate people to buy into where the university is headed.”

Said Hauck: “We’ll want a person who has got good political instincts and good judgment and a demonstrated track record in raising money.”

Once posted in national publications this spring, the job is expected to be highly sought after.

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With the campus’ $393-million earthquake recovery scheduled for completion in 2000, a renewed CSUN is poised to enter the next century with a modernized and expanded physical plant.

The new president could also benefit from the more successful initiatives during Wilson’s tenure, such as expanded teacher education and new university and business partnerships.

Compensation for CSU presidents ranges from $142,920 at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo to $202,404 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Even after receiving one of the smallest increases in the CSU system last year, Wilson commands a $181,000 annual salary and lives in a large Northridge home provided by the state. CSU presidents also have use of state cars or are given vehicle allowances.

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Presidents also receive a monthly entertainment allowance of $300.

Wilson is the third top administrator to announce her resignation in as many months. In December, Arthur Elbert, former vice president of administration and finance, turned in his resignation letter to pursue a job at the chancellor’s office. Ron Kopita, vice president of student affairs, announced last month he would leave his post at the end of the academic year.

Senior administrators Bill Outhouse, vice president of university relations, and Chief Information Officer David Liu have served in their positions less than a year.

That leaves only one longtime CSUN administrator, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Louanne Kennedy, to serve in the university’s executive team.

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And as the university’s second-ranking administrator, Kennedy is also in the running for the interim presidency.

But Reed and Hauck said they will just as likely appoint a temporary replacement from another campus or from the pool of retired presidents and chancellors.

“If he picked Louanne that would leave everyone in the executive team in a job they had never done before,” one administrator said.

Wilson plans to meet with Reed on Friday to discuss the transition.

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In the next few weeks the board of trustees will form a search committee composed of three trustees, the chancellor and Hauck, the chairman of the board. An advisory committee will also be created with the chair of the Academic Senate, two faculty representatives, one campus support staff representative, one student representative, one alumnus representative, one vice president or academic dean and the president of another CSU campus selected by Chancellor Reed.

Although trustees will consult with the advisory committee, only the former will vote on a short list of at least three candidates. The full board of trustees will then cast votes on those three candidates.

The board is also seeking a new president for Cal State Dominguez Hills and is scheduled to announce finalists next week.

“CSUN is headed in the right direction right now,” Reed said. “We need someone who will focus on quality and recruiting outstanding faculty members . . . improving the public schools, working with the high schools and community colleges.

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“We need someone who can go out and raise the resources that will expand this institution.”


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