California State University chancellor announces he will retire in 2020

California State University Chancellor Timothy White announced Tuesday that he will retire in 2020.

White has served as chancellor since 2012, and the CSU Board of Trustees announced that a replacement search will begin immediately “with the goal of appointing the next chancellor by the end of the current academic year.”

His decision to retire means the state is looking for executives to lead two of its three public higher education systems. University of California Chancellor Janet Napolitano announced in September that she would step down after the 2019-20 academic year.

The CSU Chancellor’s Office said White led the system in a period in which its revenue from the state grew by $1.3 billion and its enrollment increased from 436,000 students to 480,000.

He launched an initiative in 2015 to improve the CSU’s graduation rates, aiming to help more students complete bachelor’s degrees within four years.

“The CSU is deeply woven into the fabric of California, having created opportunities for so many people who now play critical roles in our economic, social and political life,” White said in prepared remarks. “It has been my great honor to work with our state’s elected leaders, our Board of Trustees and our campus, faculty, staff and student leaders to reinvest in our university to expand access and improve academic outcomes for the future.”

White’s announced departure comes four months after a state audit revealed that the CSU system had $1.5 billion collected in outside accounts even as the system lobbied the state for more funds and raised student tuition.

White disputed the report at the time, saying in a statement that “reserve funds are like a family savings account or the much acclaimed state of California’s Rainy Day Fund which is built up gradually over time and used to pay for one-time necessary expenses or protect against uncertainties – not ongoing expenses today.”

The Campaign for College Opportunity praised White in a statement released Tuesday, calling him “an ardent champion of gender equity” whose tenure has seen a record number of female university presidents appointed.

“Chancellor White has had a remarkable career serving students as professor, dean, provost, campus chancellor and system-wide Chancellor and we wish him the best in retirement,” the group said in a statement.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.