UC President Richard Atkinson - who has initiated national reforms in college admissions testing, spearheaded new approaches to admissions and outreach in the post-affirmative action era at UC, and propelled research innovations to accelerate the university's contributions to the California economy - announced last week his intention to retire as president effective Oct. 1, 2003.
The 17th president of UC, Atkinson has led the university through a period of dramatic physical and programmatic growth. UC's enrollment has increased by approximately 30,000 students.
Atkinson, 73, took office Oct. 1, 1995, and will have served eight years when he steps down. Of the 17 presidents of UC, only four have served longer.
"These have been extremely rewarding years - challenging, stimulating, and deeply interesting years," Atkinson said, announcing his retirement at last week's regents meeting. "But the time has come to bring them to a close, and to allow the university to move forward under new leadership. It also is time, I might add, for my grandchildren to see more of their grandfather."
Upon his retirement, Atkinson and his wife, Rita, will return to San Diego, where they lived from 1980 to 1995 during Atkinson's tenure as chancellor of UC San Diego. The regents will conduct a national search for his successor; a search committee of regents will be appointed by Chairman John Moores. For more on the process, see http://www.ucop.edu/ regents/policies/6142.html.
Atkinson noted that he assumed the presidency at a time when the university was grappling with severe budget constraints and a bitter conflict over affirmative action.
However, he said, the university has recovered and thrived - recruiting and retaining a faculty of the highest quality, maintaining access for California's brightest students, expanding outreach and teacher professional development programs to support the improvement of the public schools, planning intelligently for growth, and offering countless new innovations to help solve problems facing California and the nation.
"It is not the president who is solely, or even chiefly, responsible for these achievements," Atkinson said. "It is the University of California community...And that is why, even in a time of budget uncertainty once again, I am confident in the university's continued vitality.
"Over the next 10 months, I will work to keep the university's budget on as firm a footing as possible and to provide a smooth transition for my successor as president," he added.
For a more-detailed version of this story, including Atkinson's contributions to UC admissions policies and his role in reshaping the SAT I exam nationwide, see http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/atkinson/.
Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932, firstname.lastname@example.org