Richard Butwell, president of California State University, Dominguez Hills died Wednesday at Torrance Memorial Hospital after an early morning heart attack at his home in Torrance. He was 57 and had headed the Carson campus since Aug. 15, 1984.
A university spokesman said Butwell had no previous record of heart problems and had appeared to be in good health.
John Brownell, vice president for academic affairs at Dominguez Hills, was named acting president by W. Ann Reynolds, chancellor of the state university system. Trustees were expected to name a committee to search for a permanent replacement, a process that usually takes several months.
"The death of Richard Butwell has shocked and saddened all of us who have had an opportunity to work with him," said Dale Ride, chairman of the system's board of trustees.
Butwell, author or co-author of more than 50 books and articles on Southeast Asia, left a vice president's post at the University of South Dakota to head Dominguez Hills. He succeeded Donald R. Gerth, who moved to the presidency of California State University, Sacramento.