SAN FRANCISCO -- The California State University system has selected as its new chancellor to lead the nation's largest collection of four-year colleges a scholar whose college career began in the East Bay.
University leaders said Thursday that Timothy P. White, chancellor of UC Riverside, will take charge of the 23-campus system.
The 63-year-old White will replace Charles Reed, who is retiring after 14 years.
The native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, immigrated with his family to Northern California from Canada, attended Pleasant Hill High School and is a first-generation college student who began his college education at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, earned a bachelor's from Fresno State University, a master's degree from Cal State Hayward (now known as Cal State East Bay), and a doctorate at UC Berkeley.
He also spent two years as a postdoctoral scholar in physiology at the University of Michigan before starting his academic career in Ann Arbor. He is internationally recognized for his work in muscle plasticity, injury and aging.
White downplayed his early academic interests when in 2009 he was named a California Community Colleges Distinguished Alumni Award winner.
"When I enrolled at Diablo Valley College ... I was frankly more a swimmer and water polo player than a scholar," he said at the time, according to a DVC news release.
White was a Junior College All-American in swimming and water polo while at DVC from 1966 to 1967 and in 2006 was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.
"It was my experiences at DVC that gave me the opportunity to find my 'sea legs' academically," he said at the alumni award ceremony.
Among his accomplishments noted in a UC Riverside news release are the creation of a strategic plan to guide the institution, the accreditation of the new School of Medicine, the announcement of the new School of Public Policy, and growth of campus enrollment to almost 21,000 students.
UC student regent Jonathan Stein praised White in a Facebook post. "Tim White is an inspiration ... He walks his campus every day to speak with students and hear their concerns. He cares deeply about access and affordability. If there is a protest at UCR, he attends, participates, and meets with students immediately after. Oh also -- he's a world class scholar."
White is expected to start the job at the end of December and will receive an annual salary of $421,500, the same as Reed.
"I am humbled to have been chosen to lead the California State University system at such a transformative time," said White said in a statement.
CSU Board Chairman Bob Linscheid said White had the experience and background needed to lead the Cal State system.
"His demonstrated leadership and commitment to student success are the right combination for the university's future," Linscheid said in a statement.
White was the eighth chancellor of 21,000-student UC Riverside, serving since 2008. He was previously president of the University of Idaho.
He is married and has four sons.
Staff writer Andrew McGall contributed to this report.