The California State University system is working towards finding a new chancellor after the resignation of the eighth chancellor, Joseph Castro in 2022. Through the use of public forums and two separate committees the CSU is hoping to find the next chancellor by the summer.
Since the resignation of ex-chancellor Castro, various media outlets and community groups from the CSU community have expressed concern and their lack of trust toward the CSU system. Students, faculty and staff have shared that they feel the CSU has failed to address reoccurring issues such as Title XI reports, racial injustice and unfair salary adjustments has led to a disconnect between CSU administration and the community they serve.
In hopes of picking a candidate that can fulfill the expectations of faculty, students and other community members, the CSU has composed two committees that are entrusted with the duty of finding and interviewing candidates that fit the “leadership profile” created by the feedback received.
Michael Uhlenkamp, the senior director of Public Affairs for the CSU Chancellor’s Office, is monitoring the search for the ninth chancellor closely and is confident that the committees will make a choice that will suit the leadership profile curated.
“The committees are new to this specific search, last time we did the search there was a stakeholder committee, but the process used to follow very closely to what we use for presidential search,” said Uhlenkamp. “The implementation committee is really tied to finalizing and movingthe search process by helping identify the characteristics needed and then the assessment committee is really about getting and narrowing the group of candidates to finalists for the full board.”
The search began on Feb. 7 with the first of three consecutive public forums where the CSU community was invited to speak to the Implementation Committee. Though these forums were made for the committees to hear what characteristics CSU members would like to see from the new Chancellor, they were met with many speakers addressing issues seen throughout all CSU campuses and how they need to pick a chancellor who is ready to step up and confront the systems previous wrongdoings.
Open forum speakers made the systemic issues the CSU faces clear to the implementation committee and how they believe the picking of the chancellor can change the divide between the CSU and its community.
Paula Van, administration support staff at California State University of Los Angeles, said she felt the current CSU business model lacks sustainability.
“My opinion is that the decision makers at the CSU operate from inside this bubble where they are used to hearing about the problems and never seeing any meaningful and impactful changes,” said Van. “I think it takes an outsider to see what is wrong, what is really broken and fix it and hold those accountable for the failings of the universities.”
Psychology Professor Nicholas Von Glahn, the union president of the California Faculty Association for CPP, expressed similar concerns towards the chancellor search.
Through collaboration with other officers of the union they were able to create a list that they felt represented the needs of the students and the union.
“We would like a chancellor that really makes a forum to hear student voices and faculty voices and staff voices, in ways that are meaningful and real,” said Von Glahn. “Over my time, I have lasted 15 years at Cal Poly Pomona, there has been little ability, especially with the chancellor’s office todirectly communicate real problems as they come up.”
Von Glahn further reiterated how this chancellor could potentially help mend systemic issues seen within the CSU such as unjust faculty salaries, racial inequity and unfair fund allocation.
“We need a chancellor who understands that faculty teaching conditions are our student’s learning conditions. They need to prioritize funding the classroom and not the boardrooms,” said Von Glahn.
Throughout the open forum sessions, a theme seen from the speakers was a chancellor who holds CSU campuses’ administration accountable and is willing to push the CSU to its full potential by prioritizing the well-being of its students and faculty.
“(The chancellor) is going to take a look at what is going on both at the campus level and the system level. There is a little bit of a disconnect in that each of these presidents does report to the chancellor, but the chancellor is also responsible for what takes place system across the system”, says Uhlenkamp. “While the chancellor does have an impact … they’re not necessarily going to weigh in on those campus based decisions, but theirs is absolutely accountability that’s tied to leadership and their performance.”
The CSU’s approach towards this search focuses on accessibility. Recordings of all three open forums can be found on calstate.edu under the Chancellor Search page, so that both the upcoming chancellor can review the feedback received and the community can reflect to make sure that their concerns are being addressed.
If community members have nominations or concerns that they felt were not addressed in the forums there is a feedback section found on the website.