California State University, Long Beach
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Presidential Search Committee Holds Initial Meeting On Campus

Published: October 15, 2013

There was a modest crowd on hand when the Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President officially launched the Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) presidential search on Sep. 30 at The Pointe in the Walter Pyramid.

Roberta Achtenberg, California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees member and chair of the CSULB presidential search committee, presided over the open forum. Other trustee committee members included Trustees Margaret Fortune and Lupe Garcia, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, Trustee Chair Bob Linscheid and CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White.

“Our task here is to find the best, not the best possible, the best president for Cal State Long Beach,” Chancellor White told those in attendance. “We’re going to choose a president who will meet the needs of the faculty, staff, students and community.”

Some 20 faculty, staff, students and alumni took the opportunity to step up to the microphone and share their feelings on what qualities they are looking for in the university’s next president.

“We have been spoiled by the last two presidents that we’ve had,” said Teri Yamada, professor of comparative world literature and classics and president of CSULB’s chapter of the California Faculty Association. “Can you spoil us again?”

Yamada was referring to former President F. King Alexander and his ability to successfully lobby for the university at the state and national level, and President Robert Maxson, whom she described as very personable in dealing with all campus faculty and staff as well as members of the community.

“If you could combine those two characteristics,” Yamada said, “the best lobbyist and the best PR person on campus—that would probably give us an ideal mix.”

Michael Losquadro, chief operating officer of the 49er Foundation, said he is looking for leadership, noting a campus CEO is someone who plays a significant role in the development of the university.

“We need someone who has a vision for the campus and what it can be, a true leader,” he said, “someone who has a warm and welcoming personality, is collaborative; someone who is bold and will to make decisions that may not always be the popular decisions.”

Losquadro and several other speakers encouraged the search committee to have a more transparent process with the selection of CSULB’s next president, including an open forum at the campus for any finalists chosen for the job.

Other desirable qualities mentioned by the various speakers included someone who is committed to the campus; a bridge-builder; open-mindedness; forward thinking; a visible supporter of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community; someone who values diversity and unity.

More than one member of the campus community asked the search committee to look seriously at people of color when choosing the next CSULB president. Additionally, a couple of others advised them to consider a woman for the campus’ top position. Still, others recognized the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and want a president who won’t forget the importance of the arts and liberal arts disciplines.

CSU Chancellor Timothy White
CSU Chancellor Timothy White speaks at the initial presidential search committee meeting.

“Everything people have said this morning has been duly noted, and I know will be extremely influential with all of the committee members,” Achtenberg said as she closed the forum. “Everyone, I promise you, will take very seriously the special qualities of this university in choosing the next president of Long Beach State.”

In addition to the trustees’ committee, members of the Advisory Committee to the Trustees’ Committee were introduced and listened to the comments from the campus community. The advisory committee is made up of representatives from CSULB’s faculty, students and alumni as well as a member of a campus advisory board, all of whom were selected by campus constituency groups. It also includes a vice president or academic dean from the campus and a president of another CSU campus, both of whom were selected by the chancellor.

Members of CSULB’s Advisory Committee for the Selection of the President include faculty members Wendy Reiboldt, professor and chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, and Proveen Soni, professor in the Department of Marketing; Daniel O’Connor, chair of Academic Senate; Mary Stephens, vice president of Administration and Finance; Jennifer Moran, development coordinator for the College of the Arts (staff representative); Larisa Hamada, director of Equity and Diversity; John Haberstroh, president and CEO, Associated Students, Inc. (student representative); Roberta Jenkins, member of the CSULB Foundation Board (campus advisory board representative); Community members Ken Miller, The Honorable Robert Foster, mayor of Long Beach and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, superintendent-president, Long Beach Community College District; and Dian Harrison, president of CSU Northridge.

The next meeting of the committee is slated for Dec. 6. Semifinalist interviews are expected to take place Jan. 10 with the possibility of a president being named at the Jan. 27 CSU Board of Trustees meeting.

–Rick Gloady