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Presidents named at CSU campuses in San Bernardino, San Francisco

May 10, 2012 |  2:30 pm

Leslie E. Wong, Tomas D. Morales

Veteran educators from New York and Michigan were named Thursday to head California State University campuses in San Bernardino and San Francisco.

Tomás D. Morales, president of the College of Staten Island, the City University of New York, will succeed retiring president Al Karnig, who has led the San Bernardino campus since 1997.

Cal State San Bernardino “is the foundation of opportunity for students and I look forward to working with the outstanding staff, faculty and students as we build on the university’s future together,” Morales said in a statement.

Morales, 58, has presided over the College of Staten Island since 2007. Previous to that, he served in various administrative and academic posts at Cal Poly Pomona, including vice president for student affairs, provost, professor of education and as a principal deputy to the president.

At the Pomona campus, he established the University Honors College, realigned the division of academic affairs and helped to facilitate a $23-million expansion of the Student Center. Before joining Cal Poly, Morales was vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the City College of New York.

Morales holds a bachelor's degree in history from the State University of New York, New Paltz and earned his master's and doctorate educational administration and policy studies from SUNY, Albany. The Board of Trustees selection committee lauded his extensive administrative record: he is one of the few educators to hold positions at the three largest public university systems in the nation.

“Dr. Morales' strong leadership skills, accomplished academic record and articulated vision for the campus make him an excellent choice as the new president to lead Cal State San Bernardino,” said trustee Debra Farar, who chaired the search committee.

Morales is expected to begin his new position this summer.

Leslie E. Wong, 62, president of Northern Michigan University, will succeed Robert Corrigan, who has served as San Francisco State president since 1988.

“San Francisco State’s commitment to social justice, its diverse student body and its position as a leader in the global educational arena make for a vibrant and forward thinking campus community,” Wong said in a statement.

Wong has served as president of the 10,000-student Northern Michigan campus in Marquette since 2004 and led a number of academic, construction, fundraising and technology initiatives. Previously, he served as vice president of academic affairs at Valley City State University in North Dakota and also has held administrative positions at the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo (it is now Colorado State University at Pueblo) and at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gonzaga University, a master’s in experimental psychology from Eastern Washington University and doctorate in educational psychology from Washington State University.

“Dr. Wong brings a strong record of accomplishments, academic experience and exceptional leadership skills to his new position as president of San Francisco State,” said trustee Roberta Achtenberg, chair of the search committee. "He understands the unique mission of the university and its commitment and respect for scholarship, freedom and diversity. His vision for the future of SFSU is one that incorporates the multiculturalism of San Francisco and beyond and makes him an excellent choice to lead the university.”

Wong is expected to take up his new post Aug. 1.

The new presidents join Cal State at a tumultuous moment in its history, as leaders have faced scrutiny over executive pay and tuition increases, and as all 23 campuses have had to reduce enrollment and classes in the face of $750 million in state funding cuts.

If the state falls short on revenue, another $200 million could be cut next year. To deal with that possibility, Cal State will close most new admissions in spring 2013 and could turn away 25,000 students the following fall.

On Wednesday, trustees approved a plan to freeze state-funded salaries for new presidents but allow individual campus foundations to raise up to 10% more.

The action was in response to criticism from students, faculty and lawmakers over a series of pay raises for new executives at a time when the system has hiked tuition and cut enrollment because of state funding cuts.

Corrigan earned a base salary of $298,749 at San Francisco and received a $60,000 annual housing allowance. Karnig earned $290,000 plus a $50,000 housing allowance.

Salaries for Wong and Morales will be set by the board at a future meeting.

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-- Carla Rivera

Photos: Leslie E. Wong (left), Tomás D. Morales (right). Credit: California State University

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