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CSU, News

Summarizing the open forums in the search for CSU chancellor

After Chancellor Timothy White announced his retirement last October, the California State University Board of Trustees launched the process of finding his replacement. The trustees organized six open forums for students and faculty in the CSU system to give input on issues that are important to the universities.

Students from Long Beach State’s Associated Students Inc. voiced their concerns at the third open forum held in Long Beach at the CSU Office of the Chancellor Nov. 20.

“One of the things that I want in a chancellor is to be able to accept that this institution is for students of California and to strive to make graduation initiatives which are diverse and keep the struggles of an average student at the forefront of their minds,” said ASI President Lizbeth Velasquez.

Other members of ASI added that they would like the new chancellor to focus on diversity in all aspects including accommodations for students with disabilities and those who are housing and food insecure.

Heather Schmoll, ASI’s commissioner for disability affairs said that she would like to see a chancellor who is interested in creating a more accessible system.

“As a student with a disability myself I think that often times we’re not only left out of larger policy conversations but our needs aren’t really thought about,” Schmoll said.

President Jane Close Conoley released a statement after White’s announcement praising his character and highlighting his accomplishments as chancellor.

“Dr. White guided the system through the unprecedented fiscal challenges of the Great Recession to the present, when the CSU is on a unique path of accomplishment,” she wrote.

Other attendees echoed similar statements as well as hopes for a focus on finances and diversity. 

At the last meeting at California State University, Fresno on Dec. 5 attorney Joel Montanez Murillo expressed his desire to see the new chancellor be a person of color. He gave Fresno State’s President Joseph Castro as an example.

“It is imperative that we have a person, like Dr. White, like Dr. Castro, like Trustee Morales, serve us that have the greatest need,” Montanez Murillo said.

CSULB ASI senator at large Jireh Deng echoed this at the Long Beach meeting and said that students are more motivated when their teachers look like them.

Castro was optimistic that whoever is chosen, they would be able to bring change to the CSU system to benefit all campuses.

“This is an opportunity to build an even bolder future,” he said.

Another common theme that ran through many of the meetings was students’ hopes for someone who strives to make the best decisions for the community.

“The next chancellor shouldn’t only focus on academic needs of students, but what students need for academic success,” said Aaron Aragon, director of legislative affairs for ASI at CSU Bakersfield.

The candidates for chancellor are being kept confidential until the Board of Trustees come to a decision. The board is hoping to appoint a new chancellor by summer 2020.

Velasquez said she hopes for a chancellor who is proactive in their policies rather than reactive to a divisive society.

“We believe that the new chancellor needs to be someone who understands that this system is willing to make choices that are not always the most favored politically, but are for the benefit of students,” Velasquez said.

The next CSU Board of Trustees meeting will be held Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 at the Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach.  

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