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Ventura County

CSU Channel Islands Installs New President

Ceremony: Richard Rush calls event a tribute to Ventura County residents who fought for a four-year campus.

April 20, 2002|FRED ALVAREZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Channel Islands President Richard Rush was formally installed into office Friday during a colorful, pomp-filled ceremony meant to launch a series of events leading up to the opening of the Camarillo campus in late August.

Clad in a burgundy robe, and flanked by colleagues and university officials bedecked in academic regalia, Rush was confirmed by CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed before hundreds of supporters, some of whom had traveled halfway across the country to wish him well.

Afterward, Rush told the crowd that the ceremony was less a celebration of individual achievement than a tribute to the many people who have worked to turn the dream of Ventura County's first four-year public university into a reality.

"I accept this responsibility in the name of the people of Ventura County, who for over 30 years sought a four-year public university to serve this area," said Rush, who accepted the $200,000-a-year job in March 2001 after nearly a decade as president of Minnesota State University at Mankato. He started at Channel Islands in June.

"Today marks the beginning of the celebration of a dream come true," he said. "Though this ceremony inaugurates a president, it is truly the celebration of this community's vision and commitment."

After years of planning and preparation, Cal State Channel Islands will open Aug. 26 at the former Camarillo State Hospital complex.

While there will be a number of events leading up to that day--including opening ceremonies Aug. 16 and a black-tie presidential fund-raising dinner the following day--Friday's ceremony marked the stretch run for the long-awaited campus, the 23rd in the Cal State University system and the first since 1995.

That sense of history and achievement did not go unnoticed.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) congratulated those in attendance for being the driving force behind the creation of the new campus.

"I have goose bumps," the congresswoman said. "I have chills tingling up and down my spine at the occasion this brings us: the birth of this university."

State Sen. Jack O'Connell, who has carried legislation and budget bills to make the new campus a reality, commended the work of those who had come before Rush. He praised people such as founding President Handel Evans, who marched in a processional ushering the new president to the stage.

O'Connell then turned his attention to Rush.

"In President Rush, we have the right man for the right job at the right time," he said.

Then student Eleanora Bruno stepped forward, offering words of encouragement for Rush from the inaugural class.

"We wish you continued strength and wisdom for the challenges ahead," said Bruno, who was the first student accepted to the Channel Islands campus and who plans to study business. "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars."

In the shadow of the university's bell tower building, one of a handful of sun-bleached state hospital structures renovated and ready to receive students, Rush stepped forward to accept a bronze medallion commemorating his presidency.

Then he spoke with reverence about the responsibility he had been given. And he promised that he and his faculty and staff would not let the community down.

"I want to state most clearly that this university will focus on students and their successes," said Rush, who served as a faculty member and administrator for nearly 20 years with the Cal State system before assuming the top job at Mankato in 1992.

"We will engage students' minds and foster their aspirations," he said. "Together, we will create the future, not simply inherit it."

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