In the hours after the announcement of California State University (CSU) Chancellor Charles Reed’s retirement, a spokesperson for the state senator who had called for Reed’s resignation earlier this month said he had not heard anything suggesting there was a correlation between the timing of his demand and Reed’s departure.
State Senator Ted Lieu’s spokesperson said the senator had not heard from Reed, who announced his retirement in a statement to CSU campuses and employees Thursday.
“It has been an incredible honor to serve as chancellor of the California State University during such a dynamic period in the university’s history,” Reed wrote in his statement. “Over the past decade and a half, the CSU has emerged as a national leader in providing access and support to students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Reed, 70, will remain chancellor until a replacement is found, according to a press release announcing the decision. The nearly 50-year veteran of education will leave the chancellor position after 14 years in the CSU system.
Reed’s departure comes during a major fiscal crisis for higher education in the state, and just weeks after the university system announced the potential of drastic cost-cutting measures. At a CSU Board of Trustees meeting two weeks ago, the chancellor discussed the university’s budget woes and said he and the university presidents had “done our very best work in our careers the last two or three years to keep things going.”
Prior to this, Lieu wrote a letter to Reed calling for his resignation as chancellor. After a CBS 2 investigation into Reed’s finances found $766,000 in spending on what Lieu called “luxuries,” the senator wrote that “if the allegations are true and if you (Reed) continue to maintain your position that taxpayer funds should be spent in this manner, then you need to resign.”
But CSU spokesperson Erik Fallis called the senator’s claims “erroneous” and said the chancellor’s decision was not at all related to Lieu’s demands. Fallis specifically cited one of Lieu’s claims that the chancellor’s office spent $70,000 on a conference at a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), saying the conference was targeted to help children in low-income families.
When asked about the event at the Los Angeles airport, Lieu’s office did not directly address Fallis’ remarks. The senator instead noted he is still waiting for an official response to his letter to Reed.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, however, took a different position from Lieu. The president, who worked with Reed to pass the Student Success Fee late in winter quarter, sent an email to university staff to express his gratitude for Reed’s service in higher education.
“I have long respected Chancellor Reed’s leadership on behalf of higher education nationally, and over the past 18 months I have enjoyed getting to know him and learn from him,” Armstrong wrote. “On numerous occasions, he has expressed to me how much he has admired Cal Poly’s achievements.”
But the California Faculty Association, who has long used Reed as the poster child for overspending and lack of transparency in the CSU, released a statement saying Reed’s retirement is a time to “reflect on the direction” of the university.
“We sincerely hope and will actively work to make sure Chancellor Reed’s retirement will offer an opportunity to usher in an era of better relations among CSU faculty, staff, students and system management,” the statement said.
Under Reed’s administration, the state university system grew by more than 100,000 students and awarded more than 1 million diplomas. Reed launched initiatives to serve minority students who tended to be underrepresented in major universities, including those who are the first in their families to attend college.
Nearly 10 years ago, Reed also worked to create the Early Assessment Program (EAP), which tests high school students in English and mathematics. Approximately 81 percent of high school juniors in the state now participate in the EAP, according to the CSU.
Fallis said the CSU will conduct a nationwide search for Reed’s replacement and the chancellor plans to hold a press conference this week to discuss details of his departure from the university system.
Following his retirement, Reed will return to Florida — where he worked for 13 years as the chancellor of the Florida State University system — to spend more time with his family. He plans to continue work in higher education during his time there.