California State University trustees named two women to lead the Chico and Channel Islands campuses, paving the way for the nation’s largest university system to have more women serving as presidents than at any time in its history.
Erika D. Beck, provost and executive vice president at Nevada State College in Henderson, will preside at CSU Channel Islands. She succeeds Richard R. Rush, who is retiring in June after 15 years as president.
Chico State, the second-oldest school in the Cal State system, will be headed by Gayle E. Hutchinson, now provost and vice president of academic affairs at Channel Islands. Hutchinson succeeds Paul Zingg, who became president in 2004 and is also retiring in June.
The appointments, announced Wednesday, reflect Chancellor Timothy P. White’s push for more diversity in hiring as well as in the development of curriculum throughout the system, which educates about 460,000 students.
Two women were also appointed in January to lead the San Jose State and Sonoma State universities. Once Beck and Hutchinson begin their terms, 10 of the 23 campuses will be headed by women.
Cal State has been criticized for a gender imbalance in top leadership roles. Hiring of women and minorities has improved somewhat under White, who became chancellor in 2012 after heading UC Riverside.
White cited a “confluence of opportunities,” including the turnover of five presidential positions during the current academic year, as partly contributing to the unprecedented number of female campus presidents.
“The notion of diversity goes beyond numbers; it’s about the range of experiences … that people bring to campuses,” White said in an interview as trustees wrapped up a two-day meeting in Long Beach. “I find it enriching to have a heterogeneous set of individuals, by age, sex, income level, first-generation status. Having that mix makes a more powerful university.”
Although more than 57% of students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities are women, they account for only 26% of college presidents, according to a 2012 study by the American Council on Education.
Two of the 10 University of California campuses — those at Davis and Merced — are led by female chancellors.
Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes said she and her female colleagues have encouraged White to ensure that candidate pools are diverse, and they’ve reached out on their own to find qualified female candidates.
When Haynes was appointed in 2004, only three other women were serving as campus presidents, she said.
“I’m delighted and proud to be a part of the system in this moment,” said Haynes, who is a member of the American Council on Education’s Women’s Network.
Hutchinson, 58, will return to a campus with which she is vastly familiar. She has spent nearly 20 years serving in various positions at Chico, including dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences and chairwoman of the kinesiology department.
At Channel Islands, she coordinated all academic programs and played a key role in developing the university’s strategic plan.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education teacher education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a master’s in teaching analysis and curriculum development from Columbia University’s Teachers College and returned to Amherst for her doctorate in education.
Hutchinson’s experience in the Cal State system in general and with Chico State in particular made her an ideal candidate, said Trustee Douglas Faigin, chairman of the selection committee.
Hutchinson “has built her academic career at Chico State and has tremendous support on campus,” Faigin said in a statement.
Hutchinson’s salary was set at $293,643, the same as her predecessor. She will also receive a $50,000 annual housing allowance and a $1,000 monthly car allowance.
Beck will join Cal State’s youngest campus, established in 2002 in Camarillo and serving about 6,100 students.
Beck, 43, oversees academic programs, admissions and records and retention efforts at Nevada State College, a 3,500-student campus also established in 2002 that serves many minority students who are the first in their family to attend college.
She previously served as a faculty fellow at UC San Diego and taught at Grossmont College, a community college in El Cajon.
Beck earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a doctorate in experimental psychology from UC San Diego. She also holds a master’s in psychology from San Diego State.
Beck’s experience in “building and sustaining the academic rigor of a new campus” was instrumental in her selection to lead CSU Channel Islands, said Trustee Larry Norton, who led the search committee.
Beck will receive a salary of $283,000, $5,915 less than her predecessor, as well as a $60,000 annual housing allowance and $1,000 monthly car allowance.
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