UC President Atkinson to Retire

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SAN FRANCISCO-A national leader in educational reform, UC President Richard Atkinson announced his retirement yesterday at the UC Board of Regents meeting, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

"I'd like to see more of my grandchild," Atkinson said. "I'd like to sleep eight hours a night."

Richard Atkinson

Since beginning his tenure as UC's president in 1995, Atkinson spearheaded lasting initiatives in university admissions and expansion.

Atkinson will continue his duties as president until Oct. 1, 2003, while Board of Regents Chairman John Moores initiates the search for his successor. The university has named no candidates for the job as of yet.

The 73–year-old Atkinson is leaving at a time when UC faces a major budget crisis.

Despite the numerous problems facing the university, Atkinson said he expected UC would make a "smooth transition" into the term of the next president.

"I hope that by the time I leave, we will have gotten through the worst of it," he said, referring to UC's budget crisis. "The university has a tradition of ensuring excellence."

The university's greatest challenge in the coming years will be maintaining academic excellence as enrollment swells by a projected 40 percent, a demographic bulge known as Tidal Wave II, Atkinson said.

A former director of the National Science Foundation, Atkinson said he would return to his San Diego home and the research he left behind 27 years ago.

Atkinson indicated that he waited until after the recent election to announce his decision.

A nine-member regent committee will conduct the search for Atkinson's replacement.

Faculty will advise the regents but not vote on the final choice. Gayle Binion, chair of the UC Academic Senate, said a faculty committee will be "really central" to the process.

Finding a qualified replacement for Atkinson will be a daunting task, regents said.

"If we could find a 50- to 60-year-old Dick Atkinson, we'd be delighted," said Regent John Davies.

Atkinson made his UC debut as the chancellor of UC San Diego in 1980.

But he made his mark as an outspoken leader, taking a strong stance in favor of affirmative action.

Failing to convince the regents to retain affirmative action, Atkinson lent his energies to alternative means of maintaining diversity and access for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

On Atkinson's watch, UC broke ground on its planned Merced campus, its 10th.

The university revamped its enrollment system, instituting a system of "comprehensive review," which evaluated an applicant's achievements outside the academic realm.

In 2001, Atkinson proposed that UC go further and end the use of the SAT I exam in the application process.

His push to evaluate students in core academic subjects ultimately pushed the College Board to change parts of the SAT I, beginning in 2005.

"Whether I agreed with him-and on many issues I did not-he did not duck the issues," said Regent Ward Connerly. "That is a trait of good leadership."


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