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California and the West

Davis Names Barry Munitz to Head Transition Team

Administration: Governor-elect says choice of former Cal State chancellor signifies commitment to education.

November 10, 1998|DAVE LESHER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — Barry Munitz, former chancellor of the California State University system and current president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, was named Monday to head the transition team for Gov.-elect Gray Davis.

Munitz, 57, said he will continue in his role at the Getty and has no intention of assuming an official or permanent job in the new administration after Davis takes office Jan. 4.

Davis said Monday that the selection of Munitz demonstrates the high priority he has assigned to education reform and his pledge to pursue a politically moderate course.

"I think Dr. Munitz is one of the preeminent educators in America," Davis said in a telephone conference call with reporters from his vacation getaway in Santa Barbara. "If I said one thing during the campaign it is that I am going to take a high-expectation approach to education."

Davis remained vague about other aspects of his transition.

He said he may identify other individuals on the transition team later this week. But he declined to provide a timetable for his decisions, and he avoided specific questions about policies.

In general, Davis said the transition will differ from those of other governors. He plans to appoint at least six task forces of academic, government and business leaders to adopt policy platforms on such topics as education, health, agriculture, business and the economy.

After that, he said his transition team will consider the individuals most appropriate for executing the policies.

"This is a different type of transition," Davis said. "Obviously, I have people in mind . . . but I want to put the horse before the cart here and make sure we get the best thinking possible."

Munitz brings a decorated resume and a substantial degree of bipartisan credibility to the transition.

He continues to serve on several corporate boards. He also maintains extensive business connections dating from his nine years of service as a senior executive at Maxxam, a Houston-based holding company that included the environmentally controversial Pacific Lumber Co. among its subsidiaries.

During the 1980s, Munitz also served as president of Federated Development Co.--with investments in aluminum, lumber and real estate businesses--and he was on the faculty at UC Berkeley as a teacher of drama and literature.

In 1991, Munitz became chancellor of the California State University system, where he was praised as a visionary leader by education officials and by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

Last year, Munitz was named president and chief executive of the $4.2-billion J. Paul Getty Trust, the world's richest and most far-reaching foundation devoted to the arts and humanities.

"It's clearly understood that I will not take a position in the administration," Munitz told reporters Monday. "My goal is to get the full-time people in place as quickly as possible."

In other transition news, Davis said he hopes to move into the suburban Sacramento house where Wilson now lives. The ranch-style home along the American River was purchased by a private foundation for ex-Gov. George Deukmejian with the stipulation that it remain a governor's residence until an incumbent chose to live elsewhere.

Davis also said he recently had a cordial talk with Dan Lungren, the Republican candidate he defeated in last week's election. And he praised Wilson for conducting a cooperative and smooth transition so far.

He said he and the governor have agreed to have dinner in the near future.

Times staff writer Kenneth R. Weiss contributed to this story.

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