Op-ed: Regina Biddings-Muro is the best choice for CLU

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Garrett Mueller, Contributing Writer

Coming from a position of privilege, I do not want to speak down to marginalized groups and tell them I ‘feel your pain,’ because I have never been the target of a racial epithet, or lie and say ‘I hope it gets better’ because just as the school has a questionable record on handling sexual assault, we might expect California Lutheran University to repeat its mistakes during this episode. 

If Cal Lutheran is serious about diversity, change needs to start at the top. That is why I believe Dr. Regina Biddings-Muro is the best candidate to succeed Dr. Chris Kimball to become the next president of the university. 

In her eighteen months as Vice President of University Advancement, Biddings-Muro has demonstrated unparalleled commitment to students. She can communicate the needs of students to donors and to the greater community. Her motivation inspires others to serve the campus.

Only months into her new role, she helped raise a record $577,000 for Giving Day, five times more than the previous year. With another Giving Day arriving, how much can she exceed her current record?

In the short time that I have known her, I have never encountered a more compassionate and hard-working person. She will be a companion to all campus stakeholders, but her best friend will be the student body. 

The selection of Cal Lutheran’s president is not open to the public.

It is an insular process run by the Board of Regents. Despite this, we as students know this university better than people who only visit campus a few times per year. Sadly, this means we know its problems best, and these past two weeks have exposed wounds that quite frankly were never even sown in the first place. 

It would be a bold statement for Cal Lutheran to select not just a woman for the top post, but a woman of color.

Kimball was the first president to work at Cal Lutheran immediately prior to his selection, serving as provost for a year. The Regents have come close to selecting a woman before, and the next president of Cal Lutheran can potentially serve for one or two decades.

The presidential search committee has made mishaps in previous selections, so this is a choice they cannot afford to mess up. 

Internal hires are nothing new to Cal Lutheran. The events of the last two weeks have revealed that the transition from a predominantly white institution to a Hispanic Serving Institution cannot be successful when many of the same people who have been in charge remain and move up.

Biddings-Muro brings more than three decades of professional experience, sixteen years of that within higher education to the table. She has been at Cal Lutheran both short enough to still provide an outsider’s assessment, and long enough to feel firsthand the issues rocking the university. Again, she has the capability to solve them. 

The next president will have to answer some questions.

Should the Vice President of Athletic Affairs also be a Title IX coordinator when student-athletes are far more likely to commit sexual assault on campus? When will Cal Lutheran adopt tougher policies in the student handbook against racism? Who has the grit to terminate bad actors? When will a real theatre be built? How far will tuition increases go? Should faculty unionize? I have confidence in Biddings-Muro’s ability to answer these questions. 

Students are powerless in selecting the next president, but it does not—and should not—be this way.

As much as leadership will say students are the most important pillar to the university, we are the most marginalized. From my various student leadership positions, one of the questions administration must grapple with is how Cal Lutheran goes from being Hispanic-enrolling to Hispanic-serving. President Kimball’s departure offers an opportunity to answer that question. 

During Black History Month, many quote Dr. Martin Luther King, but all too often we forget about Coretta, who said “struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it every generation.”

We can win freedom and we can earn a leader who reflects our values. There is no one else who embodies Cal Lutheran’s spirit and future more than Biddings-Muro.