Board of Governors declares Geraldine M. Jones president


Lauren Griffith, Cal Times News Editor

   California University of Pennsylvania has a new president. On April 7, Geraldine M. Jones was selected to serve as California University of Pennsylvania’s president. Jones was declared Cal U’s Acting President after former president Angelo Armenti was fired in May 2012. She was later declared the interim president.

  Jones graduated from California State College in 1972, and has spent time as program director for Upward Bound, chair of the Department of Academic Development Services, associate dean of the College of Education and Human Services, the dean of the College of Education and Human Services, and provost/vice president for academic affairs.

  The presidential selection was reached by the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), after a presidential search committee was put together in September 2015. The committee consisted of three trustees, one executive, two faculty, two personnel, one student, one alumnae, and one former president of a PASSHE school.

   RPA Inc., an executive search and consulting firm, was hired to assist Cal U in the search for the new president. RPA Inc. held several different consultant meetings on campus in November for faculty, staff, and students to voice their opinions and concerns for the next Cal U president.  An advertisement for the position was released November 20.

    In early February the candidates began their review by RPA Inc. and the Presidential Search Committee, and later that month, applications were no longer being accepted.

  After initial interviews were done by RPA Inc. four candidates were invited to Cal U’s campus to speak in open forums with students, faculty, staff, and alumni. After one of the candidates did not continue with the interview process, the three candidates were Geraldine Jones, Ralph Rogers, and Guiyou Huang.

   On March 29, the Council of Trustees for Cal U approved two candidates-Geraldine Jones and Ralph Rogers. Jones and Rogers’s resumes were then forwarded to the Office of the Chancellor for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, and to the State System’s Board of Governors. The decision from PASSHE came just nine days later.

   In an interview with the Observer Reporter, Larry Maggi, chairman of the Council of Trustees for Cal U, said the search committee on campus did not recommend Jones for the job. The search committee recommended Huang and Rogers for interviews before the state system, Maggi said.

    The decision for Jones to serve as Cal U’s president came just one month after faculty and coaches, members of Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), planned to take a vote of no confidence in the school’s council of trustees, interim president and three vice presidents. The votes were postponed until after the presidential search was completed.

   In an article from the Observer Reporter, members of APSCUF said the school lacked a strategic plan under interim President Geraldine Jones. Cal U created the Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which set five goals and 17 objectives, in December 2015.

   “President Jones has focused on three interrelated areas — academics, enrollment and financial stability,” Chris Kindl, Cal U spokesperson, said. “I would anticipate that initiatives in these key areas will continue” she said.

    Other initiatives taken by Jones are the university’s first doctoral degree program, and nine new academic programs in high demand areas.

   Claudia Pehowic, a junior, is one of the students on the Council of Trustees at Cal U.

    “President  Jones was the tried and true candidate,” Pehowic said. “She lead our university during trying times, and being the face of a struggling institution (like a PASSHE university without a budget) can lead to some undue blame,” she said.

Jones started on the job as soon as the announcement from Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, and spoke at the campus talk on April 12 held in the performance center of the Natali Student Center.

   “Even when she is called upon to make difficult decisions, she always considers the impact of those decisions on students,” Kindl said. If I were a Cal U student, this is what I’d want most — a leader who keeps students’ needs in mind even when grappling with complex financial and institutional issues.”