hosted a meet and greet to welcome Chancellor-Designate on Thursday morning. Khosla, 55, was appointed as UC San Diego’s eighth chancellor a day earlier. Currently the dean of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, he will begin his tenure on Aug. 1, preceding Marye Anne Fox, who has been at the helm of the Southern California research university for the past seven years.
Lawrence Pitts, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs for the school, introduced Khosla for his first public chat with students, faculty and staff. Pitts lauded Khosla’s leadership, outreach, fundraising and research accomplishments at Carnegie Mellon University.
“He is the type of person who tackles challenges, finds opportunities, thinks out of the box and creates positive change,” said Pitts.
Numerous community leaders have commented on Khosla’s recent appointment.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said Kholsa was an ideal choice to lead UCSD.
“He is a proven leader, a successful entrepreneur and a champion of innovation,” Sanders said in a release. “We look forward to the continued positive impact that UC San Diego will have on our community–through the creation of jobs and companies, the translation of cutting-edge research into new technology and medical therapies, and the strong campus partnerships that serve the citizens of San Diego.
Alumni-owned and operated companies include Carlsbad-based Life Technologies Corp, which had $3.28 billion in sales in 2009-10, Carlsbad-based ViaSat Inc. with 1,110 employees, and San Diego-based Cymer, which is publicly traded under the NASDAQ ticker symbol CYMI.
Khosla was hired the same day the UC Regents discussed the possibility of tuition increases to bridge the budget deficit. During the current fiscal year, the state reduced funding to the UC system by $750 million, or roughly 20 percent, according to a recent report by CNBC.
Yet Khosla spoke on Thursday with optimism for tackling budget constraints facing the UC system.
“I am well aware of the significant challenges that face this university. It is not just this university; it is higher education in this entire country…” he said. “This is the premier example of the best public system ever created and as we face these challenge there is a small possibility, probably that this great public system could be dismantled.”
He said the community has to make sure this does not happen, for the good of the community, state and country.
“This country needs us as much as this community needs us,” he said, adding that the university needs to bolster its existing relationships locally.
The hiring of Khosla was not met entirely with praise. According to the UC, Khosla will be paid $411,084 annually, almost $20,000 more than Fox at a time the system is facing another round of steep state funding cuts. The university counters that Fox’s salary had not increased in nearly five years. However, a UC statement said the difference will come from non-state sources.
Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said the raise will come from the university foundation, and the new chancellor will also receive $100,000 in relocation expenses. A University of California Office of the President representative explained that this relocation bonus is standard across the UC system. He said the expense is always one-fourth of the salary and is paid in increments over four years.
“While I welcome Pradeep Khosla to the University of California and I appreciate at least some recognition by the regents of the fiscal realities we currently face, I cannot endorse giving yet more raises to top administrators while students continue to see tuition hikes,” said Yee, who also protested a raise given to San Diego State President Elliot Hirshman.
“I am disappointed that the regents' priorities continue to be on lining the pockets of their wealthy executives rather than on ensuring California families can afford the UC,” Yee said. The extra money should go to student services and scholarships, he said.
In addition, Khosla will receive an annual auto allowance of $8,916 and the university will provide him a house near campus.
According to the university system, Khosla's base salary ranks 52nd among 61 members of the American Association of Universities – based on 2009-2010 figures.
While media was told Khosla would not taken questions about his salary, which will be less than his compensation at Carnegie Mellon, he did say he was attracted by "the opportunity to be at the helm of what I consider to be a top 10 institution in the country.”
He also addressed questions on the challenges of supporting diversity at UC San Diego. Just last month to investigate reported race-based misconduct and take other anti-discrimination steps as part of a settlement with federal authorities probing allegations that black students had been harassed.
Khosla said he is aware of pass incidents that were not tolerant of diversity.
“It is not acceptable. As chancellor I will be working very hard with the faculty, with the staff, with the students and the broader community to understand the causes for this and the possible solutions,” he said.
Outgoing Associated Students President and student member of the chancellor search committee Alyssa Wing said it became apparent during the interview process that Kholsa was the leader the campus needs.
“You have the experience and skills to lead this diverse campus with nearly 30,000 students. You are open, welcoming and approachable. And you truly care about the students, our experience and our success,” she said during the event.
To help him transition from life in Pittsburgh to live in La Jolla, Kholsa was presented with a “chancellor’s survivor kit.” He was provided a pair of rose colored glasses, a campus parking pass and a surfboard with the UC San Diego logo.
A little background on Khosla: He grew up in India, and earned a bachelor’s degree in technology from Indian Institute of Technology. He moved to the U.S. for his graduate degree. He earned his MS and Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He was hired as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering after earning his Ph.D. in 1986.
In the past 25 years, he moved up to become Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, founding director of the Carnegie Mellon CyLab and dean of the College of Engineering.
He is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the Indian Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Association of Artificial Intelligence.
Khosla reportedly played a leadership role in fundraising at Carnegie Mellon, as well as reportedly increasing the number of female and minority graduate students.
Khosla and his wife, Thespine, have three children: Nathan, 21, Alex, 14, and Nina, 11.
He was one of seven candidates that was interviewed for the position.