SDSU community weighs in on search for university’s next president

SAN DIEGO — For about two hours Monday, dozens of San Diego State University students, faculty and staff members lined up before a committee of California State University trustees to voice opinions on the qualities their next president should have.

The input varied and comments ranged from shrinking class sizes to growing housing units to bolstering transfer programs that benefit low-income students. Those ideas will be taken into consideration by members of the committee, who are tasked with creating a job description for the head of the university.

“Coming from the perspective of journalism, I think my unpolished, one word thought is transparency,” said Bey-Ling Sha, a professor in the SDSU School of Journalism and Media Studies. “You can’t tell us everything and we get that, but faculty and staff don’t always feel heard because our input is sought. …It seems to go into this void, and if our input cannot be used for whatever reason, it would be great to have a transparent reason for why that is.”

San Diego-area CSU trustee Adam Day, who chairs the committee, thanked everyone who weighed in on the matter, adding that it is challenging to find a campus president because it involves finding someone with a very unique skill set.

“It’s very challenging to thread that needle,” Day said.

Following public comment, the committee went behind closed doors, where they were expected to discuss the role of the committee in the search process, factor in the input they received during the meeting with what they each find to be the preferred attributes of the next president, as well as to confirm the schedule for future meetings. Over the next several months, the committee will review application and conduct interviews.

The committee includes trustees Silas Abrego, Lillian Kimbell, Hugo Morales and Rebecca Eisen, plus CSU Chancellor Timothy White. An advisory group that will be part of the committee includes former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Associated Students President Chimezie Ebiriekwe, and Margaret Iwanaga Penrose, president and CEO of the nonprofit Union of Pan Asian Communities. Faculty members and other SDSU officials are also included.

The committee expect to complete the search and appoint a new president by early next year. As the search continues, longtime SDSU executive Sally Roush, who came out of retirement to take the interim presidential role, will remain at the helm.