After just two years in the position, Bill Durgin, Cal Poly’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, has been moved from his position to a newly created executive-level role, Cal Poly officials announced yesterday afternoon.
Robert Koob, formerly Cal Poly’s senior vice president and vice president for academic affairs from 1990 to 1995, has been moved in to fill Durgin’s position on a maximum two-year interim basis. He will effectively step into the provost title on Oct. 6.
Durgin is being reassigned from his current position to university executive for research and external support.
Cal Poly President Warren Baker said that the university has been discussing the creation of such a position for several months now and felt that Durgin would have the experience to lead this “new effort.”
“He certainly did a great job for us as provost and we look forward to seeing what he can do in this new position,” Baker said.
Baker makes all staffing decisions at Cal Poly’s executive level.
Durgin will continue to work under the general direction of Baker, and alongside incoming Provost Koob and Vice President for University Advancement Sandra Ogren.
In particular, Durgin will head the university’s congressional relations, focusing on external funding and appropriations. The new position will also have him guiding the use of new academic technology to further student learning and working on development and funding for the Cal Poly’s graduate programs.
Durgin was unavailable for comment yesterday, but stated in a university issued press release that: “While I have certainly enjoyed serving as provost, I also see that I can contribute even more by focusing on issues critical to the future of this university. I am grateful to President Baker for seeing those needs as I do and providing this opportunity to address them.”
Durgin was most recently in the news regarding his involvement with the controversial and yet-to-be-finalized proposed Cal Poly deal with Jubail University College in Saudi Arabia. Durgin ardently supported the proposal at numerous public forums and Academic Senate hearings against opponents of the deal who felt it would discriminate against female, homosexual and Jewish faculty members who may want to participate in the creation of a new engineering program in Saudi Arabia.
At times, Durgin fielded many of the media inquiries about the program and much of the criticism from students and faculty on campus. In April he wrote an open letter to the university entitled, “A global perspective for Cal Poly,” defending the Saudi proposal.
Baker holds that the controversy did not affect Durgin’s decision to be reassigned and that the move is willing on Durgin’s part.
“I don’t think any of (the Saudi Arabia contract controversy) concerned him a great deal,” Baker said. “He gave no indication that it got to him. He was simply doing his job and supporting the decision made by the faculty.”
Incoming interim Provost Koob has numerous years of senior administrative experience under his belt, notably serving as the University of Northern Iowa’s President from 1995 until 2006 before retiring from that position and again returning to the Central Coast. He has also served as as North Dakota State University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Interim President.
“We lost him in 1995 and we’re really looking forward to having him back,” said Baker.
Koob will serve as interim provost at Cal Poly for a maximum of two years until a full-time hire is made.
“The last time we went looking for a new provost it took some time to fill the position,” Baker said, explaining why a full-time hire is not being made immediately.