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New CSUN President Hires Outsider to Be Student Affairs Chief

July 14, 1992|SAM ENRIQUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Incoming Cal State Northridge President Blenda J. Wilson has hired an administrator from a Minnesota public university to be vice president of student affairs at CSUN, passing over the acting administrator who had sought the job.

In her first official action, Wilson selected Ronald Kopita, 48, the vice president of student affairs at Moorhead State University, over Fred Strache, who has been CSUN's acting vice president of student affairs, and a third finalist. Strache has held the job since the retirement of Edmund Peckham a year ago.

After visiting the CSUN campus on Thursday and Friday, Kopita agreed to accept the job, his wife, Pearl, said Monday.

"We're looking forward to it," she said.

Kopita will be one of three vice presidents who will serve directly under Wilson. Now chancellor of the University of Michigan at Dearborn, Wilson also will be selecting the school's permanent vice president of academics in the coming school year.

Kopita has worked for 15 years at the 9,000-student Moorhead campus, which is about 240 miles northwest of Minneapolis. The school is a part of Minnesota's seven-campus state university system.

He holds an undergraduate degree in social studies and secondary education from the State University of New York, College at New Paltz, and in 1973 he earned a Ph.D. in counseling psychology and higher education administration at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

At CSUN, Kopita will oversee campus departments such as student housing and activities, financial aid and athletics.

In an interview last week, he acknowledged that looming state budget cuts to California schools will make his job especially difficult. Many faculty members are, for example, calling for a reduced athletic program to free more money for academic departments.

"It will be my job to sort all this out," Kopita said in an interview last week. "I need to be an advocate for athletics and be a kind of mediator with the faculty about this. My first priority will be to see how much athletics costs and, based on that, make some decisions."

Further explaining his view of the role of college, he said, "At its heart is academic life, not athletic life."

Kopita and the other finalists flew to Michigan last month to be interviewed by Wilson, who starts at CSUN on Sept. 8.

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