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Field Pared to 4 for CSUN Post : Trustees: Candidates will visit the campus in May for interviews before the board makes its selection of a new president.


The field of candidates for the presidency of Cal State Northridge was narrowed Tuesday to four longtime educators who combine academic credentials with a vision of the future university as an activist institution serving its community with a global curriculum.

The finalists, chosen by a search committee from the California State University Board of Trustees, include two women--one of them black--from a field of nearly 100 applicants.

Two finalists already serve as chief executives at universities, and the list of achievements include wooing the World University Games to Buffalo and directing Air Force research on microwave radiation.

The finalists: H. Ray Hoops, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Mississippi; Blenda J. Wilson, chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn; Ronald H. Stein, vice president for university relations at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Claire Van Ummersen, chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire.

"The committee worked long and hard to narrow the list, first to nine semifinalists and now to four finalists," said Trustee Claudia Hampton, chairwoman of the Presidential Selection Advisory Committee.

"We believe that any of the four has the potential to be a stellar president for Northridge."

Each finalist will visit the campus the week of May 5 and the new president will be chosen later that month.

The new president will replace James W. Cleary, who has guided the campus for 23 years, spanning a period of tremendous growth and occasional turbulent change at the 353-acre campus. Cleary took over in 1969, after a group of African-American students seized administration offices.

Under Cleary's guidance, the university embraced multiculturalism and enrollment has swelled to about 30,440. Expanding upon his vision will be the challenge facing the new president.

The search committee began in November to look for a replacement. The committee was charged with finding someone committed to academic excellence as well as the needs of a multiethnic student body in a metropolitan suburb. All four meet these conditions, according to Cal State officials.

University officials said they could not say how much the position will pay. Other state university presidents in California earn between $116,000 and $124,000.

The four finalists:

* H. Ray Hoops--He is 52, has one daughter and is married to a professor of hotel and restaurant management. Hoops has been at Ole Miss since 1988.

Previously, he served as president of South Dakota State University, a position he resigned after less than one year in 1985. Hoops said Tuesday that he resigned as a matter of conscience after having a disagreement with the governor, who Hoops believed was trying to inappropriately intervene in the running of the university. "I have no apologies to make" over that, he said.

Hoops received a bachelor's degree in speech communication and a master's and Ph.D. in audiology and speech at Purdue University. He will visit the campus on May 8.

"I know the budget problems in California," he said in a phone interview. "But as a whole, California has done a good job funding higher education. In the next decade, the greatest strides in education will be made in the urban environment. I like the size of Northridge. It's manageable but it has all the resources of a great institution."

* Blenda J. Wilson--Wilson, 51, is married and has no children. She has been chancellor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn since 1988. One of three University of Michigan campuses, Dearborn is in suburban Detroit, and has 8,000 students. Wilson has a master's degree in education from Seton Hall University and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Boston College.

She has served as executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and was senior associate dean and associate dean for administration at Harvard University's School of Education. She will visit the campus on May 7. "The responsibility of a contemporary university is to understand the global world," she said in an interview. "In addition to the traditional kinds of knowledge that American universities have dispensed in a superior way, we need to know more about the cultures of other people."

She added, "I have not been offered this position, nor have I explored it sufficiently to know whether I would accept if it were offered."

* Ronald H. Stein--He is 49, married, and has three children--two boys and a girl--aged 14, 10 and 9. He has held his current position since 1987. His bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. are all in philosophy and were obtained at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He is the president-elect of the American Assn. of University Administrators and is given credit for bringing the World University Games, which attracts college athletes from around the world, to the Buffalo campus for competition next year. He will visit CSUN on May 5.

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