CSU board makes Sheley permanent president of Cal State Stanislaus

pguerra@modbee.comMay 22, 2013 

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— He's here to stay.

California State University trustees on Wednesday announced the appointment of Joseph F. Sheley as president of CSU Stanislaus. Sheley has served as interim president of the Turlock campus since June.

Sheley said he's excited to get the job permanently after spending a year getting to know the ropes and the people.

"I'm really looking forward to working with these people in the long term," he said.

That work won't be particularly easy. Though Proposition 30, which was passed in November, eliminated further drastic cuts to the state's higher education system, challenges still lie ahead.

Sheley said the state remains on a long road back to financial security, and universities must establish priorities in what programs they offer and keep a close eye on expenses. He said he wants to work with the university community as well as representatives from the wider area on a long-term vision for the campus.

"The commitment of our faculty and staff to our students is a source of pride to me, as is the Stanislaus region's faith in the university," Sheley said in a university press release. "The real and potential impact of region and institution — in partnership — on the future of California is significant almost beyond imagination."

Sheley, formerly provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sacramento State, has been involved in Turlock and the surrounding region since his appointment, visiting area City Council meetings to introduce himself and volunteering at community events.

His approachable manner and collaborative approach have won him fans throughout the region.

"I'm a big fan of Dr. Sheley," Turlock Mayor John Lazar said. "He's the right fit for Turlock. The city looks forward to continuing a great relationship with the university."

Sheley returned the compliment, saying that both the city of Turlock and the rest of Stanislaus County are underrated as places to live and work.

Before working for Sacramento State, Sheley spent 21 years as a faculty member at Tulane University in Louisiana, where he served as chairman of the department of sociology and faculty head of the University Senate.

Sheley's wife, Bernadette Halbrook, is a professor at Sacramento State. She took a year of leave when Sheley was appointed interim president and the two relocated to Turlock.

The couple have not decided whether Halbrook will return to work and commute, Sheley said. "That's a decision we'll have to make as a team," he said, adding, "but I think she likes it here with me."

Sheley earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as well as master's and bachelor's degrees in sociology from Sacramento State when it was still known as Sacramento State College.

At Stanislaus, Sheley replaced Hamid Shirvani, who left to take a position as chancellor of higher education in North Dakota. Unlike Sheley, Shirvani had a prickly relationship with some of his faculty and community members.

"Unfortunately, the previous president wasn't happy living in the Central Valley and he didn't like our way of life," Lazar said. "But we found the right person that likes our community, and our region, and he's someone that wants to stay and contribute.

"Everyone has a lot of good things to say about Dr. Sheley."

Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter @pattyguerra.

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