by Leslie Porras
After an extensive and exhaustive search for a vice-president of university relations, the University of La Verne has named Dr. Jean Runzo to fill the position that was left open by the resignation Dr. Biff Green a year ago.
Dr. Runzo will feel at home in an environment of higher education since that’s where she’s been most of her professional life. Dr. Runzo previously taught history at Occidental College and Cal Poly Pomona. In 1979 she joined the staff of Chapman University as associate director of development for grants. Soon after, Dr. Runzo made several career moves, becoming director of grants and institutional research, director of enterprise ’86, assistant to the president, and then finally, associate vice president for development.
Dr. Runzo was also director of the fundraising campaign for public television station KCET in Los Angeles, where she headed the five-year, $60 million campaign.
“I miss teaching,” said Dr. Runzo, who sees her teaching experience prior to becoming an administrator as an asset to her present position. “I understand faculty members’ concerns.”
Dr. Runzo was attracted by the small size of ULV, she described the setting at La Verne as one that is very positive. ‘There is a sense of community and belonging,” she said. This was something that Dr. Runzo found while attending the recent senior luncheon at President Steve Morgan’s house. She found that the students at the function were “proud of friends and associations” they had.
According to Dr. Runzo, “I was very impressed with Steve Morgan and what he has accomplished over the past seven years.” She added that she wanted to work with a president such as Dr. Morgan.
The diversity that ULV has to offer is something Dr. Runzo feels is “a real positive experience for students.”
While here at the University, Dr. Runzo’s goals are nothing but positive ones for the school. “My goals are to strengthen financial support, image and awareness [of ULV] in general,” she explained.
Dr. Runzo is concerned with helping the University to be better known through the media, and have it be known for its various programs not only on a state level but on a national level as well.
Dr. Runzo would like to build a positive image for the institution, one that would make alumni, as well as parents, proud. She would like to the see the school to be “as well-known and as highly regarded as possible.”
One of Dr. Runzo’s main goals is to increase the financial support for ULV through fundraising. “There is a potential for much stronger fundraiser,” she said.
Dr. Runzo would like to see a considerable increase in alumni support and to build corporate relations as well as increase the foundation support.
Increasing support from “friends,” people in the community who support the University, will also be an important goal for Dr. Runzo.
When asked if she believes that her position is a typical nine-to-five job, Dr. Runzo responded, “No, it is not-you always feel like you haven’t done enough, and you always feel you should do more.”
As a woman on the go with her career, having a personal life at the same time is important to Dr. Runzo.
“When I’m not dressed like this,” she said, looking down at her business attire, “I enjoy bird watching, backpacking and hiking.”
Dr. Runzo also considers herself an amateur photographer, she enjoys shooting color nature photographs. She also has done some travelling overseas and would like to resume travelling when time allows her to do so.
Dr. Runzo’s husband, of whom she speaks of with a smile on her face, is a professor of philosophy and religion at Chapman University. Although both their schedules are very busy, Runzo admits that it is very important to the both of them that they set aside time to spend together.
According to President Morgan, “Jean has outstanding qualifications. Her years at Chapman and her experience at KCET blended perfectly.”
President Morgan added that the search committee’s decision to hire Dr. Runzo was unanimous. After a search that started in June, 11 months ago, it has finally found the right woman.