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Ex-Fla. chancellor Reed steps down in California

Charlie Reed, a blunt-talking champion of higher education who left Florida 14 years ago to run California's universities, is retiring.

Reed announced Thursday that he will step down as chancellor of CSU when a replacement is found, and that he and his wife will return to Florida.

"Throughout my time here, the CSU has grown by more than 100,000 students, and I have been honored to sign more than a million diplomas," Reed said in a statement. "I take great pride in the CSU's mission to serve California's students, and I am proud to have played a role in carrying out that mission during these critical years."

Reed was a close ally of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, a Democrat. Reed left Florida in 1997 for the California position and in recent years has grappled with severe budget deficits resulting in a 35 percent drop in funding over the past four years. He left Florida in part because of what he saw as a steady erosion of support in the Legislature for this state's universities.

"Florida has a motto: We're cheap and we're proud of it," Reed said as he prepared to depart Florida for California. Five years ago, on a brief return visit to Tallahassee, he criticized state leaders for their constant meddling in the governing structure of higher education, and sharply criticized the Bright Futures scholarship program as the "dumbest" higher-ed policy he had seen.    

-- Steve Bousquet