Framroze Virjee replaced Mildred García as the President of Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 1 after his predecessor was hired to head the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
However, Virjee is only a temporarily appointed until June 2019, so the California State University system still needs to find a permanent replacement.
Mike Uhlenkamp, Senior Director of Public Affairs at the CSU Chancellor’s Office, said the CSU will begin this process after the spring semester to allow the other three ongoing president searches can conclude.
“The other ones will likely wrap up in the next few months, then we will kick off the Fullerton search beginning next fall,” Uhlenkamp said.
CSU Bakersfield, Dominguez Hills and San Diego are currently in the midst of finding new leadership as well.
At Bakersfield and Dominguez Hills, Presidents Horace Mitchell and Willie Hagan will both be retiring at the end of the spring 2018 semester after having served their universities since 2004 and 2012 respectively.
Meanwhile, Sally Roush took over as an interim president at San Diego State University in the summer of 2017 after the previous president, Elliot Hirshman became the president of Stevenson University.
“Even a retirement will be something that is relatively unexpected,” Uhlenkamp said. “We have an idea that a president isn’t going to be at a given campus forever, but the factors that go into when that president is going to leave or if that president is going to leave are completely different, depending on the president.”
Since he began working at the Office of the Chancellor in 2010, Uhlenkamp said there have been 21 president searches across the CSU system.
Only three campuses currently have presidents who began their tenure before 2012. After Mitchell retires from Bakersfield, the remaining two will be president Jeffrey Armstrong of CSU San Luis Obispo and president Karen Haynes of CSU San Marcos.
Uhlenkamp said that due to the demands of the job, the CSU expects most presidents to stay at a given school for five years, and any time after that is “icing on the cake.”
“I think the challenge of being a campus president is that for our campuses, the majority of them equate to running a small city,” Uhlenkamp said. “You have people living on campus, you are potentially living on campus, you have hundreds or thousands of employees, you have a police force and you’re dealing with facilities issues. It’s a very taxing job.”
Because each university in the CSU has a different demographic to serve and a widely variable student body, from around 1,200 students at Cal Maritime to the over 40,000 students at Fullerton, the leadership needed to run each campus can differ as well.
Uhlenkamp said that the CSU casts as wide a net as possible to try to hire the best possible candidate for each campus. They also often work with a hired search firm to supplement the “fairly small” team working out of the Chancellor’s Office, resulting in each president search costing tens of thousands of dollars.
While the trend of longer-lasting CSU presidents has mostly passed, there is a current trend toward hiring a more diverse range of presidents.
Even after the recent appointment of Virjee, there are currently more female than male CSU Presidents, 12-to-11. Uhlenkamp said this is the first time that has happened in the history of the system.
“The most important thing is that we’re able to conduct a search where we’re able to identify the largest possible pool of qualified candidates,” Uhlenkamp said. “We want the best possible people for an individual role.”