By Sebastian Juarez
At the end of the 2018 spring semester, California State University, Dominguez Hills will be saying goodbye to President Willie Hagan after a six-year stint as our leader on campus.
You may not have ever met President Hagan, and you may not really know what he’s done as president, so we caught up with him to discuss his tenure and his thoughts on the future of CSUDH.
“I would characterize my time at CSUDH as some of the best years of my life,” Hagan said. “I have been in higher education for almost 40 years and these six years at Dominguez Hills have been among the most rewarding.”
In his time as president, enrollment rates have gone up each year, with the number now nearing 15,000. Retention rates have also seen a steady uptick, with incoming freshmen returning 82 percent of the time, which is higher than both the state and national rate, according to collegefactual.com.
When asked about what he was most proud of during his tenure as president, he made sure that he was not the only one getting credit.
“Working with faculty and staff to implement programs to help our students succeed and graduate (was my greatest accomplishment),” Hagan said.
He said that the improvements in enrollment, graduation and retention rates prove that his tenure was a success.
Despite these accomplishments, the job of president is never fully done, and Hagan said that there are some areas that he wishes could have been addressed more during his time on the job.
“There were so many things we were trying to accomplish,” Hagan said. “I regret not having the time to work with the student leaders to come up with a plan to finance and construct a student recreation center.”
He also said that the campus would benefit from an increase in the number of faculty and staff, as well as improvement to facilities and the university budget.
Hagan’s insistence on talking about people other than himself is telling of what kind of leader he is. He maintained strong relationships with faculty and staff, and they have positive things to say about his time as president.
“He is an incredible leader and role model,” said Susan Sanders, senior executive assistant to the president. “Having the honor to support him and witness his determination and advocacy for the success of our students and university has been amazing.”
As President Hagan’s tenure comes to a close, we look forward to CSUDH’s incumbent president, Dr. Thomas Parham, a man that Hagan is quite familiar with.
“I have known him for years,” Hagan said. “He is an outstanding individual, dedicated to helping students succeed.”
Despite his presidency ending, Hagan’s impact on campus will not be completely evaporating. He said that he will continue to build the Hagan-Hicks Endowed Scholarship, which helps low-income students attend CSUDH. He will also be lending his time to the new president or to support student programs, as needed.
After a lengthy, accolade-filled career in higher education, Hagan is looking forward to spending time with family, traveling and writing in his newfound free time.
When asked about what he will miss most here at CSUDH, Hagan said, “The people. It was always about the people.”