John Brownell, acting president of California State University, Dominguez Hills, since the death of Richard Butwell in February, has been appointed interim president.
The two-year appointment apparently recognizes Brownell's early successes in easing faculty discontent at the Carson campus and inspiring support for new efforts to overcome longstanding problems, such as declining enrollment and poor relations with surrounding communities.
At the same time, the appointment relieves pressure on university trustees to find a permanent replacement capable of handling both immediate problems and the long-term mission of Dominguez Hills.
The trustees are "pleased with the outstanding job that Dr. Brownell has been doing," said Jeffrey Stetson, a spokesman for Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds in Long Beach. "His appointment also provides stability and continuity during this interim period."
Stetson said the board was particularly pleased that Brownell had "restored a more open, collegial atmosphere" on the campus, raised staff morale and achieved some success in increasing student enrollment.
In the months before he died of a heart attack, Butwell had come under increasing pressure from the faculty, which contended that he made decisions without conferring adequately with his teaching and administrative staff. One such decision--changing the university calendar to the semester system--resulted in a further loss of students and a decline in state aid, which is based on attendance.
Since Brownell, a native of Whittier who came to Dominguez a year ago as academic vice president, is 62, it is uncertain whether he will be a candidate for the permanent post when the trustees complete a nationwide search in August of 1989.
At that time, Brownell noted, he will be close to 65 and after that age, university presidents are appointed one year at a time in the Cal State system.
"On that basis, it may not be too likely that I will continue in this post," he said. "So I will be giving my best efforts to the job in the next two years."
Brownell said his first priorities are to win the friendship and support of the largely minority communities served by Dominguez Hills and to woo more students by being "more responsive" to their needs.