LOS ANGELES (AP) — California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed announced Thursday that he plans to retire as soon as his successor is found.
Reed, 70, has led one of the nation's largest public university systems for the past 14 years, overseeing an expansion that added 100,000 more students and a campus in the Channel Islands.
Reed said he is particularly proud of his initiatives that have made higher education accessible to low-income, minority students.
"I take great pride in the CSU's mission to serve California's students," he said, adding that he's signed more than a million diplomas during his tenure.
Reed's retirement was not unexpected, but comes amid a climate of tumult in the 23-campus system, caused by a loss of $1 billion in CSU's state funding, approximately 35 percent of its budget. Reed has endured harsh criticism and campus unrest from students and faculty over resulting tuition hikes, enrollment caps and employee layoffs.
In the past few months, he's come under particular fire for raising campus presidents' pay at a time when the university has withheld a faculty salary increase specified by contract and raised tuition by 9 percent.
Reed has had to make difficult decisions, but has always been motivated out a desire to do what is best for students, said Bob Linscheid, chairman of the board of trustees.
"Charlie has persevered though the worst budget crisis in the history of California and has had to deal with deep budget cuts to the CSU," he said. "Charlie's management of the institution is something to behold."
The California Faculty Association, the labor union representing some 24,000 professors and other employees which has been at loggerheads with Reed over a new contract, said that with Reed's departure, it looked forward to an era of better relations between administrators and students, faculty and staff.
"This 'changing of the guard' provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the direction of the CSU, and to improve the quality of education at the nation's largest university system," the CFA said in a statement.
During his tenure, Reed became particularly known for his efforts to promote college to poor, minority students, using everything from multilingual posters "How to Get to College" to a Sunday program at African-American churches.
He also launched a program to assess 11th-graders for college-readiness in English and math skills and worked with community colleges on a state law that ensures more two-year college graduates transfer to a four-year degree program.
University of California President Mark Yudof praised Reed's "tireless, multi-dimensional campaign to reach students who might otherwise not have put themselves on a path toward college."
"The chancellor has been an effective and reliable ally in the fight to keep alive for future generations of Californians the promise of an affordable, top quality education," Yudof said in a statement.
Reed, who started his career as a school teacher, came to CSU from the State University System of Florida, which he had led for the previous 13 years. He plans to return to Florida to spend more time with his family and work on various higher education projects, the university said.