Postponing the Provost Search


Dear University Community,

As I mentioned in my message to you yesterday, the university faces some challenges which have given me pause.  Our enrollment shortfall is considerable.  Projections suggest that we will be 5-6% short of our 2016-2017 target established by the Chancellor.  This translates to approximately a $9,000,000 to $10,000,000 shortfall.  The work of the Provost, the academic deans, enrollment services, advising and advancement have established a new teamwork model resulting in a number of strategies to be implemented this spring term.  Faculty and staff have also stepped up to this hurdle. I am hopeful that once we see our annualized enrollment figures after spring semester’s census day, the gap will have closed significantly. Keep in mind that we are experiencing successive years of not meeting our enrollment target.  Bringing in new leadership in the midst of this is not wise.

The 2016-2017 allocation to the CSU in the California budget differs considerably from what the Board of Trustees submitted to the Governor. It is still early in the process but our leadership team has been modeling various scenarios.  We won’t know much until later this spring.  This is a considerable unknown.

We are also finishing the first semester of designing and implementing San Francisco State University’s multi-year plan to meet the Student Success and Graduation Initiative (SSGI) targets for our campus. The SSGI goals are ambitious and we will be held accountable to make progress to meeting those goals.

It is also apparent to the search committee, our advisors and to my cabinet that we were slow in initiating the search process. This was not due to any lack of effort or commitment. Everyone did their best to get started. I think there is too much risk in “hurrying” the process and jeopardizing our effort to find the kind of person (and the best person) we need.  

I have made this decision with input from faculty leadership, Academic Affairs leadership, the search committee and from the Cabinet. Delaying until next year the search for a permanent Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is prudent and wise. I have also asked that the current search committee remain intact and be prepared to conduct the search during 2017-18.  I want to thank them for the considerable work already completed.

Dr. Summit has agreed to remain in the position of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs during 2017-18. I have witnessed the superior effort, skill and talent which characterizes her work. She has my full support moving forward. She will also have 18 months to lead a considerable change effort rather than six.  On July 1, 2018, the permanent provost will inherit a new spirit, new commitments and newly configured curricular designs.  Please join me in thanking Dr. Summit for her service and wishing her well for the coming months.

Thank you all for your work on behalf of our students and their families.   

Les Wong