No. 8: Cal Poly President Warren Baker retires

For the first time in three decades, Cal Poly will have a new president next year.

After taking the lead post at the university in 1979, Warren Baker announced his retirement on Dec. 7.

Baker, 71, was praised by local community and university leaders for bringing the university to national prominence — particularly its architecture, engineering and agriculture programs.

Cal Poly often receives high rankings in national surveys of comparable universities, including a top ranking in the U.S. News and World Report for the past 17 years among public universities that focus on undergraduate and master’s degree programs.

The longest-serving Cal State University president also successfully sought money from private donors.

Under his watch, a Cal Poly fundraising campaign begun in 2001 at the university’s 100th anniversary brought in $264 million.Baker also encouraged relationships between the university and more than 800 industry leaders as part of the “President’s Cabinet.”

Those leaders — including many Cal Poly alumni — have provided advice and donations and helped students get jobs, according to university officials.

A new president is expected to be named by the middle of 2010.

The CSU’s Board of Trustees, working with CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, will lead the search. An advisory committee to the trustees will help with the selection process, including campus, alumni and community representatives as well as a president from another CSU campus selected by the chancellor.

Over the next several months, the campus will continue many ongoing projects and programs despite the transition period at the top, said Dan Howard-Greene, the president’s chief of staff.

Howard-Greene said those include enrollment planning for next year, management of a tight budget in a difficult state budget environment, and construction projects such as the recreation center expansion.

San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce President Dave Garth said that he’ll miss Baker’s leadership, adding that the outgoing president has worked “wonders at Cal Poly” and drawn widespread attention to the city.

Garth said he hopes to be a part of the selection process for the new president.

Other local leaders, such as San Luis Obispo Mayor Dave Romero, said the city has benefited from a strong partnership on issues such as fire and bus services, as well as the Performing Arts Center.Romero said he hopes the city will continue good relations with the university into the future.

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