Interim president named for Cal Poly

Robert Glidden
Robert Glidden

Cal Poly’s new interim president aims to prepare the university for a permanent leader “and not let things go stagnant,” he said Friday.

Robert Glidden, president emeritus of Ohio University, was chosen for the role after the California State University Board of Trustees determined earlier this month that two finalists for the president’s seat weren’t the right fit.

Glidden, 73, will serve following the July 31 departure of retiring President Warren Baker and until the search for a permanent president is completed.

Glidden plans to spend a lot of time “learning the feel of the academic culture and what things need to and should be handled,” he said in a phone interview from Ohio.

Glidden was president of Ohio University from 1994 to 2004, overseeing six campuses and an enrollment of 29,000 students in southeast Ohio.

Former colleagues say he is approachable to students, an expert organizer and a talented fundraiser.“He’s a fine man,” said Michael Bugeja, who was an assistant to Glidden and is now a director at Iowa State University’s journalism school. “He’s got a calmness about him when times are at their most difficult.”

Tom Hodson, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, called Glidden “the consummate president.”

“He is intelligent, sophisticated and a great leader,” Hodson said. “He commands the respect of all constituencies on a university campus. … He is a decisive president. His integrity is beyond reproach.”

An internal Cal Poly administrator wasn’t selected as interim president because the university is better served by separate leaders, according to CSU Chancellor’s Office spokeswoman Claudia Keith.“The provost has provost duties to do, and he cannot wear two such big hats,” Keith said, in reference to Cal Poly Provost Bob Koob.

Glidden’s salary will be set by the CSU trustees at a meeting in July. Keith didn’t yet know the pay range.

The board plans to reconvene in September to choose a permanent president at the end of the year or the beginning of 2011, Keith said.

Glidden said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed offered him the interim role. They knew one another years ago when Reed served as chancellor for the Florida Board of Regents and Glidden was provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1991 to 1994 at Florida State University.

Glidden also served as a professor and dean of the school of music there from 1979 to 1991.

He has also held academic appointments in music at Indiana University, the University of Oklahoma and Bowling Green State University.