LONG BEACH — Robert Bersi has a vision.
"I've always wanted to spend 10 years at a place where the results would be just startling," he says. "I see that here . "
The " here " is California State University, Long Beach, where Bersi assumed duties last week as the university's new vice president of development, a post that had been vacant for more than a year.
"It would happen with or without me," said the former chancellor of the University of Nevada who accepted a $3,000 pay cut to $82,000 a year to come to Long Beach. "When I look at CSULB and this part of California, I see a giant. This institution is going to be recognized as a significant economic and social force in the country."
Chosen from more than 100 candidates considered over the past year, Bersi, 54, replaces Howard L. Still, who died of leukemia in March, 1986.
"He's first-rate," said Cal State Long Beach President Stephen Horn of his new hire. "He has outstanding experience in university community relations. Wherever he's been, he has been deeply involved in community development from the corporate standpoint. He has the knowledge, experience and the type of personality that can meet and persuade and give confidence to a wide range of people."
Posts in Connecticut, Nevada
Before moving to Nevada in 1981, Bersi was president of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury for six years and prior to that served in various administrative capacities at Cal State Dominguez Hills. As vice president of development at Cal State Long Beach, Horn said, Bersi will oversee the university's efforts to raise funds from other than state sources, particularly corporations, individuals and private foundations.
"That's what I enjoy doing and that's what I've always done," Bersi said. "Once you've got the administration running, what else is there for you to do? What you should be doing is advancing the institution."
Bersi comes to the university at a particularly critical juncture in its history. The discovery last year of an unexpected $1.6-million deficit in the university's budget resulted in the temporary removal of Horn's fiscal authority, the borrowing of $900,000 from the state university system and a major financial reorganization that included the elimination of some athletic programs and decreases in most campus operating budgets.
Horn recently announced that the debt had been repaid and the reorganization successful.
Dale Hanner, California State University vice chancellor for business, said that while Horn's fiscal authority has not yet been returned, the situation at Cal State Long Beach "appears to be promising" and that a new assessment of it will be made in August.
Crisis Viewed as in the Past
And both Horn and Bersi now characterize the financial crisis as past, and the university's future as bright.
"We've done very well," Horn said. By not replacing Still for so long "I lost a year of momentum," he said. "But thank heavens I waited, because now I have the best . . . person."
Bersi says that one of his initial objectives at Cal State Long Beach will be to concentrate on "joining forces with corporations," particularly in paying for instructional equipment for new labs and workshops and in support of the "remarkable" research and instructional projects being conducted by some faculty members.
"You give this faculty the tools it needs and it will produce graduates that will compete with any graduates in the country," he said.
Long Beach is the perfect place for such development, he said, because "you've got a community with economic mass and cultural vigor" that still retains a sense of community and is becoming an increasingly important world trade center. "Under these circumstances the prospects are very pleasant and the potential for success very strong," Bersi said.