William C. Rust will step down as president of the United States International University after a 37-year tenure, a move officials hope will steady the institution that has been rocked by recent troubles.
Rust, who has governed the 3,500-student school since its inception in 1952, will become chancellor, a newly created position, trustees announced Friday. General Kenneth McLennan, a four-star retired Marine Corps General who has been Rust's assistant since July, will become acting president.
"For 37 years, this university has formed and developed under the leadership of Dr. Rust, and we are pleased this move will make it possible for his impact to continue while the day-to-day operation of the campus is transferred," said Theodore Vallas, chairman of the Board of Trustees in a prepared statement.
USIU has about 2,250 students at its main campus at Scripps Ranch off Pomerado Road. It also has centers in San Jose, Chula Vista, Irvine, and Glendale, in addition to its international facilities in Nairobi, London and Mexico City.
The board's move follows a critical report issued by the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges, which threatened to revoke the school's academic accreditation in March, 1991 if it did not make management changes. Without the accreditation, students would not be eligible for state or federal loans.
But the accreditation is only one of the university's problems. In October, the Bank of America filed a lawsuit against the school seeking $6.7 million in unpaid loans. The school has also had trouble with its handling of its $2.1-million pension funds owed to faculty and staff.
To solve its financial woes, the school has taken out a $15-million loan, said spokeswoman Anne Slavicek. "We have had short-term cash flow problems," she said.
In a prepared statement, Rust said he and the university desired his stepping down.
"This change is coming a year or two later than I wanted," said Rust, adding that he was looking forward to working on the school's international programs, fund-raising and its TV station. "I believe this is a strong move for the university."