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Chancellor White talks presidential search, skateboarding with campus community

The CSU chancellor visits CSULB as part of his system-wide tour.

Chancellor White talks presidential search, skateboarding with campus community

Todd Johnson

Chancellor White takes questions from students during an open forum in the Anatol Center on Monday.

Cal State University Chancellor Timothy P. White toured Cal State Long Beach’s grounds yesterday, meeting students and addressing issues such as the presidential search and skateboarding on campus as part of his day-long visit.

White, who became CSU chancellor in December, visited CSULB as part of his CSU-wide tour, which he plans on finishing before the end of his first year in the position.

A special greeting was played for White on KJAZZ yesterday morning as he drove to campus. The chancellor toured several parts of campus, including the Walter Pyramid, University Art Museum and Horn Center.

During an open forum with the campus community, White said he was impressed with CSULB and that the campus’ administrative process has made financial difficulties of the past few years almost “invisible.”

“We all know it’s been a very difficult time in California for everybody, and higher education isn’t an exception,” he said. “I understand where we’ve been as a system and as a campus, and my commitment to you is to work daily to try and change those fortunes going forward.”

He said that the commitment of faculty and staff has been essential to excelling in difficult times.

White also said that with California’s economy stabilizing and slightly growing, the CSU is now in a position to ask for more financial support from the state.

“I think it changes the conversation for arguing over the few crumbs that are on the table to deciding how best to use that slightly larger crumbs that are now coming on the table,” he said.

White praised CSULB for maintaining its academic quality and remaining accessible through budget cuts. He also said that tuition increases seem to have finally leveled off.

“I think it’s stable on tuition fees for a while,” he said. “There may be little adjustments over the next handful of years but nothing like we’ve seen over the last four or five.”

Two attendees questioned White about search for CSULB’s next president and the lack of transparency in the search process. White said that if all the finalists are willing to openly visit the campus, then the CSU would be open to having an on-campus forum with the candidates, much like those held in the past.

White also said that privacy is essential to attracting the nation’s best candidates, most of whom are already employed by other universities.  He said that if CSULB wasn’t an established and respected university, that wouldn’t be the case.

“Because of your work, this is a very attractive university for people with a lot of skills to think about joining,” he said. “We don’t want the best president possible . . . We want the best president.”

He also suggested that anyone on campus who would still like to give input about qualities they would like to see in a president should contact Lars Walton, the CSU chief of staff, and voice their concerns to him.

During the forum, White also said he supports a smoke-free CSU and said that skateboarding on campus as a means of transportation should be allowed.

“Using [skateboards] for transportation, safely, just like any other wheeled object, I think is inevitable,” he said. “What isn’t okay is unsafe riding or doing damage to the curbs and the sitting areas.”

When asked about ethnic studies programs across the CSU system, White told those in attendance that he is gathering a committee to analyze their “origins, history and enrollment trends” and decide how to address majors and programs that have low enrollment.

The chancellor said that rumors of limiting ethnic studies to specific campuses are not true and that any decision made would come after an in-depth review.

“I got the concern, I deeply have the concern, and I am very committed to making sure we have an honest conversation about it,” he said. “Ultimately, things like this are going to come across my desk only after a lot of consultation with community, with faculty, with students, and various campus leaders are involved with this.”

White said the January CSU Board of Trustees meeting will have a presentation about the status of ethnic studies in the CSU.

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