Meet the President

Interim University President Robert Thorn 

President Robert ThornRobert “Bob” Thorn began his term as interim president of California University Feb. 1, 2021, upon the retirement of former president Geraldine Jones.

Thorn’s appointment as interim president was approved on Oct. 15 by the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

Prior to assuming the University’s top leadership role, Thorn served as vice president for Administration and Finance, a post he assumed in February 2010. As a member of the President’s Cabinet, he provided leadership and oversight of the University’s financial affairs, resource management and strategic direction, and he stewarded the University’s education and general (E&G), auxiliary and plant budgets, which total nearly $150 million.

Thorn was instrumental in guiding campus master planning efforts, which resulted in a Campus Master Plan designed to be a “living document” that can be continually revisited, allowing the University to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of higher education. This document has guided the right-sizing of the campus footprint.

He played an integral role in the State System’s sustainability efforts as a co-lead of the Investment Team, which formed the conceptual sustainability framework for the 14 universities. This team obtained approval for the University Financial Sustainability Policy, developed the financial sustainability template and established financial metrics.

Thorn has been a long-time advocate for the University’s overall financial health and is committed to ensuring that California achieves the sustainability milestones contained in its Comprehensive Planning Process. Such endeavors will result in the long-term viability of the University now and as the Western Integration advances.

Since taking office, Thorn has committed funding to support the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office and named Sheleta Camarda-Webb to his Cabinet as the interim Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion must be at the forefront of our thinking as we make decisions about our University and its future,” Thorn said. “We must do more than talk about these issues. We need to take steps toward creating a more diverse and inclusive campus community.”

Formerly the associate director of accounting/financial aid at Ohio University, Thorn joined California University in 1993 as director of Financial Aid.

Thorn lives in Brownsville, Pa., with his wife, Jackie. He has three children and is the proud grandfather of three.

What’s ahead?

Presented with the opportunity to look back at the accomplishments of the University, as well as to plan for the needs and challenges that lie ahead, Thorn rose to the challenge to help lead the University into the coming years.

Many opportunities are on the horizon for California as State System Redesign takes shape. Transparent engagement is a top priority for Thorn as the campus community contributes to the work of planning for an Integrated University with Clarion and Edinboro universities. These activities will require time, creativity and innovation.

In Thorn’s words: “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead such an amazing workforce. Our Cal U faculty and staff are exceptional leaders in their respective fields, and they are committed to students’ success in all endeavors of their campus experience."

  The Plan The Mission  

Contact the President's Office

The President's Office is located in Old Main, Room 110, where the University's leadership team and Council of Trustees hold regular meetings. 

Office of the President
Campus Box 95
250 University Ave.
California, PA 15419 

Phone: 724-938-4400
Fax: 724-938-4373 

Anna Stewart 
Interim Executive Assistant
Office of the President
Phone: 724-938-4400

Staci Tedrow
Administrative Assistant II
Office of the President
Phone: 724-938-4400