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CSUCI Finalist Stresses Her Experience

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A University of Washington administrator said Wednesday she would draw from her experience building a campus if chosen as the new president of Cal State Channel Islands.

In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters, Vicky Carwein, chancellor and dean of the University of Washington at Tacoma, stressed that her experience in developing and expanding the 5-year-old Puget Sound campus had prepared her for building Ventura County’s first public four-year university.

“There are few opportunities for someone in education to come in on the ground floor and start a university from the beginning,” as the CSUCI president will, Carwein said. It’s “very much like what I’ve been doing,” she added.

Carwein was the second of three finalists to meet with administrators and tour the Camarillo campus in a series of candidate appearances scheduled this week.

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She and the other finalists--Michael Ortiz, provost and dean of academic affairs at Cal State Fresno, and Richard Rush, president of Minnesota State University at Mankato--will be interviewed by the California State University Board of Trustees early next month. A new president for the planned university is expected to be named shortly thereafter.

In an interview squeezed into a full day of meetings, Carwein, 52, said she saw a number of parallels between Channel Islands and the Tacoma campus.

Like Channel Islands, which occupies the grounds of a former state mental hospital, Carwein’s school also made extensive use of historic structures to house educational facilities. When she arrived at Tacoma in 1995, she said, the school occupied rental buildings. Under her supervision, the university renovated century-old warehouses along the city’s waterfront for its permanent quarters.

“It was very fun and very exciting,” she said.

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Carwein, who holds a doctorate in nursing science from the University of Indiana, said she has also been engaged in the type of public-private partnerships and income-generating ventures that Channel Islands plans.

Carwein said she is negotiating with a private developer who is proposing off-campus apartments for Tacoma’s students. And the United States Geological Survey is negotiating plans to move its Tacoma offices and labs on campus, she said.

As part of its effort to raise operating funds, Channel Islands is developing a 150-acre community of homes, parks and schools that will serve faculty and staff members. Ground is scheduled to be broken on the first 200 homes in the fall. Plans also call for high-tech companies to lease office space on the campus, which is currently a satellite of Cal State Northridge.

“People in education know that if we wait for the state to fund all our capital needs, we’ll wait for a very long time,” Carwein said.

Under Carwein’s tenure, the Tacoma campus has grown 15% a year, to 1,700 students. It offers only upper-division and graduate courses.

Carwein expanded academic programs, adding undergraduate degrees in computer programming and environmental studies and master’s degrees in social work and business administration.

Laura McAvoy, who sits on a citizens advisory committee that is helping to guide development of CSU Channel Islands, said she and other members are seeking a president who can sustain the enthusiasm and support the campus already has drawn.

After meeting with the three finalists, she and other members will make their recommendations to the presidential search committee and the full Board of Trustees.

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“We’re very anxious to have someone who can walk on water,” McAvoy said.

Carwein said she knows the university has strong boosters in the county and she expects to work closely with those who champion the campus.

“That’s what is great about what is going on here,” Carwein said. “You don’t have to get people on board. They are already here.”


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