Jim Herrick is Director of the SDSU Alumni Association. This post was originally featured in his blog, Directly Speaking.
About a year ago, SDSU President Steven L. Weber reiterated his intent to retire. That prompted the campus to collectively gasp and fret and get busy remembering what the process was for hiring a new president. Most campus folk were aware that it was not within our purview but rather that of Chancellor Reed and the Cal State University System. Key community members, and Campanile Foundation and Alumni Board members, however, had to be reminded that The System governed San Diego State, thus The System would hire Steve’s successor.
And no one could blame anyone for their fuzzy grasp of how it works. After all, President Weber has been here for 15 years. Dr. Tom Day, his predecessor, had been her for 18. Golding, Love, Hardy, Hepner, Black–along with Tom and Steve add up to only 7 presidents of SDSU in 114 years! Given the modern proclivity for university presidents to last only about 5 years before moving on, one could say we have enjoyed a remarkable run.
Then, in the beginning of February, Dr. Charles Reed, along with Trustees William Hauck, Lou Monville, Linda Lang and Peter Mehas, came to campus. They spent an entire day talking and listening. They answered questions, and patiently described the process. By day’s end they had mitigated the concerns of both the community leaders and the campus community about how it all would unfold. It turns out, that because the CSU has 23 campuses, and because of that average tenure statistic, and because Charley Reed has been at this quite awhile himself, that they have done this kind of thing before.
So this week we are enjoying the campus visits of the three finalists for SDSU president (For a list of the three candidates and their bios, please click here.) The process has been enormously enlightening. These gentlemen are all tremendously qualified academics and administrators who bring great perspectives on higher education. They are polished professionals who can handle both challenging questions from students and faculty and who also demonstrate superb interpersonal skills. Most important is that along with their amazing resumes, they are demonstrating a genuine desire, resolve and proven ability to elevate the quality of higher education.
And the two-day gauntlet through which they are running here on campus is also pretty impressive. The theory goes that if they can hold up to two dozen non-stop appointments with faculty, vice presidents, deans, students, community leaders, staff and media, then they will be far more likely to withstand the day-to-day rigor required of a modern, large-university president.
Next week, Chancellor Reed and the selection committee, armed with all of the feedback from the campus visits, will interview the three finalists and presumably select our next president. I am certain he will be a good one.