SF State President Robert Corrigan to retire at end of school year

After serving as SF State president for 23 years, Robert A. Corrigan announced, at an all-faculty meeting, Monday that he would retire after the 2011-2012 school year.

SFSU Corrigan retirement

San Francisco State faculty members give a standing ovation to President Robert A. Corrigan after he announced his retirement on Aug. 22, 2011. Photo by Erik Verduzco.

His reasons for leaving include research purposes and his uncertainty that he would be able to continue helping tackle the budgetary woes. However, he also said he intends to be involved with the campus in other ways.

“I want to go back to my research and get away from what’s happening,” Corrigan said. “I had to do what I had to do. Given that the [budget] situation is a multi-year problem, the University needs to have a president who will be around and I cannot say that I would be around enough to serve.”

Some who have worked with Corrigan believe that he is not using his retirement as a way to abandon the issues at the school, but to finally get a well-deserved rest.

“I don’t think Corrigan is leaving because it’s getting too hard,” said Paul Sherwin, the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “I think he stayed longer so he can try to fix the problems.”

This means that the search is now on for a replacement president. The California State University Board of Trustees, the chancellor and members of the campus are in charge of conducting searches for a new president, said Erik Fallis, CSU spokesman. Fallis said discussions have not yet begun, so it is uncertain whether or not SF State will have an interim president or have a new president by the time Corrigan is set to depart.

“There’s time for us at this point, but until the board, the chancellor and the campus meet, we can’t be sure of what’s going to happen next,” Fallis said. “But we are going to try to find the best person out there.”

Since the budget crisis started three years ago, Corrigan was at the helm, making the search for his replacement a delicate issue.

“There’s obviously a tremendous amount of knowledge about the issues that Corrigan represents,” Fallis said. “He is certainly a valuable person who is leaving, but he developed a lot of individuals on campus who are very capable of dealing with these issues as well.”

A concern for the campus is finding a leader who is compatible with the views of the faculty and staff of SF State.

“In terms of finding a new president, I think the selection committee should be clear of the University’s mission and vision and select a president that shares and adheres to these values,” said Pamela Vaughn, the new chair of the Academic Senate.

When Corrigan first became president, the University was 95 acres, which grew to 142 acres in 2008 under his leadership according to the 2008 Xpress archives.

SF State purchased more property, including University Park North and South with bonds in 2005, increasing the amount of apartments owned by the University by 753. The University purchased 180 apartments between 2000 and 2001.

Not only did Corrigan increase the size of SF State, but he also changed the way the campus functioned.

“The campus has had tremendous growth both in land size and in staff and students. There’s been an increase of quality in this educational system and also stability in its governance,” said Sue Rosser, SF State provost. “The two years I’ve worked with him have been an honor and I’ll miss him very dearly. He changed this campus’ dynamic and made this University a destination and he will always be remembered for all his contributions to this community.”

Corrigan did not always want to be an administrator, either. His career in administration began at the University of Maryland where he served as the campus’ ninth provost. There he was nominated to be president of SF State.

He was selected out of about 100 nominees for the position.

While the future of SF State without Corrigan is unclear, the University is being mindful of its next steps.

“SF State has the advantage of knowing about his retirement a year in advance,” said Ellen Griffin, university spokesperson. “The budget crisis will be long-term, but we have other good leaders to handle it who are up for the task.”

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