California State University officials named a man with strong Bay Area ties as the new chancellor Thursday.
Timothy White will replace current CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed, who announced in late May that he planned to retire after a 14-year tenure.
White, 63, has spent the past four years as chancellor of University of California at Riverside.
Born in Argentina, White and his family moved to Calgary before settling in the Bay Area when he was 9 years old, he said in a teleconference Thursday.
White attended elementary, intermediate and high schools in Pleasant Hill, he said. His first job was delivering newspapers for the Contra Costa Times, and he "never broke a window."
The chancellor then went to Diablo Valley College before getting his undergraduate degree at California State University, Fresno.
White was on the swim and water polo teams while at Fresno State and wanted to become a coach for those sports.
He said in order to coach at a high school level, he needed a master's degree, so he then returned to the Bay Area where he got it at Cal State University Hayward, now Cal State East Bay.
White then wanted to coach those sports at the collegiate level and needed to get a doctorate degree, which he earned at University of California at Berkeley.
White has had stints working at Oregon State, University of Idaho, University of Michigan and UC Berkeley before becoming chancellor at UC Riverside.
"This is a very important job and I'm pleased and proud that the board has selected somebody who understands the California state schools' mission," Chancellor Reed said of White's hire.
White was the unanimous decision by the CSU Board of Trustees to be Reed's heir apparent.
University of California President Mark Yudof issued a statement Thursday morning on the selection, calling White "an excellent choice to lead the California State University system."
Yudof said he will appoint an interim chancellor for UC Riverside in the near future.
"While he will be missed, it is no small consolation knowing that, with Chancellor White at the helm of the CSU, the University of California will continue to have a well-placed partner and ally in the fight to preserve public higher education in California," Yudof said.
As chancellor at UC Riverside, White was leading a campus of 21,000 students. As the CSU chancellor, he'll be overseeing more than 420,000 students.
White will take over as CSU chancellor in late December. He will earn an annual salary equal to Reed, at $421,500 with the CSU standard benefits package, as well as a $30,000 supplement from CSU Foundation sources.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said he believes White is qualified to help the state schooling system get back onto a better path.
"His dedication towards pushing public universities forward is equal only to his passion for fostering unique opportunities and innovative ideas at a time when public higher education has become, more often than not, a discussion about funding," Newsom said in a statement.
"I have no doubt that he will lead a renewal of CSU," Newsom added.
White, a self-proclaimed optimist, believes he can do the job.
"We have our work cut out, but I am enormously optimistic," he said.