The University of California at Riverside's chancellor, Timothy P. White, will be the next chancellor of the California State University system, the Cal State Board of Trustees announced on Thursday. Mr. White, who is 63, will succeed Charles B. Reed, who has headed the 23-campus system since 1998.
"I actually feel very humbled, very honored, very grateful, but also very prepared in order to go forward in this time," Mr. White said during a conference call with reporters. "I'm enthusiastic about our future."
At the same time, Mr. White noted, "we're going to have to innovate. The need for California's future, its economy, its environment, the social mobility of individual Californians, their families, their communities all are dependent on the success of public higher education in general, and the California State University in particular."
Mr. White, who will take office in late December, will inherit a university system facing a precarious future. Under Mr. Reed's leadership, enrollment grew by 100,000, to 427,000 over all, while state appropriations have been cut since 2008 by 35 percent, or more than $1-billion. Cal State has limited its enrollment and raised tuition in recent years in an attempt to compensate for the cuts. It will face additional budgetary uncertainty in November, when the fate of a referendum proposing a statewide tax increase will decide if another round of cuts in state funds will be imposed.
When asked what he would do personally if the ballot measure, known as Proposition 30, were to fail, Mr. White earnestly replied, "I would probably drink a big glass of Scotch."
"There are things that are out of your control, and part of leadership is managing the tough times," he continued. "I'm the kind of person that says, look, this is our reality. Let's find our way through and not lose track of being a student-centered university and serving California and Californians."
Mr. White has served as chancellor at Riverside since 2008 and has been praised for leading the growth of the UC system's most diverse campus. Under his leadership, the university's enrollment increased to a record 21,000. Mr. White also oversaw the establishment of Riverside's new medical school, including hiring its first dean and securing $100-million in funds, none of which were provided by the state. The school received accreditation just last week.
"Chancellor White has provided tremendous service to the University of California and its Riverside campus for the past four years, and he is an excellent choice to lead the California State University system," said Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California, in a written statement.
"While he will be missed, it is no small consolation knowing that, with Chancellor White at the helm of the CSU, the University of California will continue to have a well-placed partner and ally in the fight to preserve public higher education in California," Mr. Yudof said.
Mr. Yudof announced that an interim chancellor for Riverside would be named in the coming weeks and that the search for a permanent replacement for Mr. White would begin shortly.
Mr. White is the second new chancellor to be named in the state's higher-education system in recent days, following the appointment of Brice W. Harris as chancellor of the California Community Colleges system in late September.