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Trustees Ask Early Review of CSULB's Pres. Horn

August 23, 1987|WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — A confidential evaluation of California State University, Long Beach, President Stephen Horn is being conducted by university trustees--three years earlier than normal--in response to a rash of financial problems and community conflicts that have dogged his administration.

A five-member panel of outside academicians led by a former president of the University of Oklahoma spent last week interviewing faculty, administrators and key Cal State Long Beach boosters at the request of the trustee's personnel committee.

Their report on Horn, including an analysis of conditions across the 33,550-student Long Beach campus, is likely to be presented at the trustees' Nov. 10-11 meeting--but then, only in secret because it constitutes "a personnel matter," trustee spokesman Jeff Stetson said.

"The board was interested in exercising due diligence in responding to the fiscal concerns that have been reported over the last year, and also the concerns expressed by certain members of the community, particularly regarding the athletic program," Stetson said.

"There were several booster organizations who had communicated to the chancellor and the board directly," he continued, and trustees "simply wanted to review the situation as quickly as possible."

Horn, last evaluated 18 months ago and not due for another until 1991, did not return a call for comment last week.

Horn, 56, who holds a doctorate in political science from Stanford University, has spent 17 years managing what is the second-largest of the 19 campuses in the California State University and Colleges system and is paid an annual salary of about $110,000. He has been mired in disputes at various times, but never so deeply as last summer, when the campus ended the fiscal year with a $1.6-million budget deficit. The chancellor's office had to make the university an emergency loan of $898,561, which has since been repaid.

The Long Beach school "was the only campus in the system to have that kind of deficit," Stetson said, "and because of that that raises concern. Clearly legislators want to know why campuses aren't living within their budgets."

Horn also drew criticism from the community last December when a separate $719,000 deficit in a campus athletic fund violated state financial policies and nearly caused the school to drop its football program. After boosters raised $300,000 to save the program, some were further angered when Horn nearly cut track and field, and then hired a new athletic director without consulting them.

"Personally, he's a nice guy," said accountant Sam Breuklander, a former two-term president of the 49er Athletic Foundation and among those who called for Horn's evaluation. "He's there (at booster meetings), he's a well-prepared man, you can't put him in a corner, he's organized."

Not a Supporter of Sports

But Breuklander said Horn "just doesn't appear to be a real athletic supporter. He's more of a fine-arts type of person. He looks at (college sports) as kind of a burden."

After working feverishly to raise funds to pay off the athletic fund deficit, Breuklander said many boosters felt Horn's administration "just didn't bounce things off us like they had agreed to and make us feel like part of the team."

Indeed, Horn's management style as well as organizational and financial skill will be among the things evaluated by the review panel. The group is chaired by Paul Sharp, former president of the University of Oklahoma. The other members are Evelyn Ballard, former deputy medical director at San Francisco State University; Richard Jarrett, business manager of the Los Angeles Unified School District; Warner Masters, a former vice president at California State University, Northridge, and Theodore Meriam, a former Cal State trustee.

Trustee spokesman Stetson said it would be "inappropriate to speculate" on what the panel's report may conclude or what trustees may do once they receive it. But he noted that "the evaluation process is designed to be constructive" so as to aide Horn in solving whatever problems he may face.

Breuklander said boosters hope the trustees "either get a commitment out of Dr. Horn that (his administration) will put out a long-range (athletic funding) program and not worry about getting the rug pulled out," or else "replace him."

"If he doesn't want to do it, we should get somebody who does."

The evaluation panel was appointed by the trustees' personnel committee, made up of Trustee Vice Chairman Marianthi Lansdale and members Claudia Hampton, Thomas Stickel and alternate Roland Arnall.

Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds is not involved in the evaluation process and has not been interviewed by the Horn panel, Stetson said.

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