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Bon voyage, Mr. Baker 

As budget cuts have left the California State University system limiting classes and excusing part-time lecturers, and as Cal Poly is trying to attract out-of-state students to make up for a budget shortfall, University President Warren Baker has decided to call it quits.

Baker announced his retirement plans on Dec. 7, but said he’ll remain at his post until a successor is found.

“It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve you and the entire Cal Poly community,” Baker wrote in an e-mail to students.

During Baker’s three decades as Cal Poly’s top administrator, he’s been the driving force behind the university’s fundraising and lobbying efforts. Research grants and contracts have steadily increased during his tenure, with the campus seeing more than $1 billion in expansion and improvements to facilities investment from a variety of public and private sources.

In light of his impact and because of Cal Poly’s current fiscal woes, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said Baker’s replacement will be charged with a heavy task.

“It’ll be a huge challenge to fill Baker’s shoes,” Reed told New Times. “His legacy is the quality he has built up in Cal Poly as one of the highest-recognized institutions in the U.S. But I think there will be a lot of experienced leaders that will be interested in coming to Cal Poly because of the quality of the programs—the quality that Baker helped make. I think that will be very attractive.”

No considerations have yet been made in the search for the next presidential candidate, said CSU Media Relations Director Clara Potes-Fellow. She said Baker’s successor will be chosen by the CSU Board of Trustees in a process that will start in the first quarter of 2010 and is expected to wrap up by the end of the academic year.

   Potes-Fellow said board members’ first step is to designate a committee to draft a description of the ideal candidate.

   Baker’s annual salary since July 2007 has been $328,209, according to Cal Poly Vice President for Administration and Finance Larry Kelley. Potes-Fellow said the salary of his successor would be determined by the candidate’s experience and salary history.

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