The makings of Zingg

by Hutton Marshall

Paul J. Zingg
Paul J. Zingg

Last Thursday, President of Chico State Paul Zingg marked the final campus visit of the candidates for San Diego State’s next presidency. Zingg is the only candidate with experience in the California State University system or as a university president. However, the average SDSU president holds the job for 14 years and some question whether Zingg, who at 65 — only two years President Stephen L. Weber’s junior — is too old for the job.

Zingg’s motivation for pursuing a presidency at this time in his career has also been questioned. Prior to becoming Chico State’s president in 2004, he served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo for eight years. Just last year, Cal Poly searched for a new university president, but Zingg did not want his name considered for the job. Less than a year later, Zingg has had a change of heart.

“I’ve been nominated for other presidencies,” Zingg said. “I made it very clear that I wasn’t interested in leaving Chico. (The decision to pursue SDSU’s presidency) was a combination of soul-searching on my own about my experiences previously at Penn. I have a desire to stay in CSU, but not to retrace my steps.”

A main concern of students, especially those involved in student government and organizations, has been whether the incoming president will have the same communication with the student body that Weber did. Candice Luistro, Associated Students vice president of University Affairs, spoke highly of the communicability of Weber, especially when it came to dealing with the A.S. executive board.

“(President Weber) was very approachable and was always easy to communicate with,” Luistro said. “We really appreciated his open-door policy when working with Associated Students.”

Zingg currently meets with Chico’s president of A.S. once a month, and has regular communication with student organization leaders, valuing the connection between administration and students.

“I walk the streets with the students,” Zingg said. “I go out there to the student neighborhoods and the party areas and I’m pretty visible in those regards. I think you would find folks pleased with that.”

Following suit of the other two candidates, Zingg took advantage of the open forum to showcase his qualifications and his ability to interact with the students and faculty. During the forum’s first 20 minutes, which is allotted to the candidate for a brief speech, Zingg sought to inspire and lay out a clear plan for his potential presidency. According to Zingg, SDSU’s financial stability rests on four interdependent initiatives: external support, student fees, state support and resource stewardship.

“We want students not just to make a living, but to make a life,” Zingg said, quoting Marian Wright Edelman on the importance of a broad, balanced education.

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