The California State University board of trustees has named Thomas A. Cropper as the new president of Cal Maritime.
Cropper, 52, takes the helm of the university after current president William Eisenhardt leaves at the end of June. Eisenhardt has served Cal Maritime since 2001.
Cropper is retiring after a 31-year naval career which includes commanding Carrier Air Wing Eleven onboard the USS Nimitz, and managing combat operations in the Persian Gulf's Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, among many other duties.
He currently lives on the Naval Air Station Coronado Island in San Diego, but will soon be living in the president's house on the Vallejo campus.
The CSU board will set his pay in July. Under a new policy, Cropper will not earn more than Eisenhardt, but he can take up to a 10 percent pay hike if funds are supplied by the campus foundation.
Cropper's son, also named Thomas Cropper, graduated from Cal Maritime a few weeks ago with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs. He graduated Cum Laude.
"His experience at California Maritime Academy was just wonderful. It was transformative for him. After seeing what the school could do for my own son I realize I wanted to be part of that," Cropper said Tuesday.
Cal Maritime's heritage and mission ofeducating and training professionals for the maritime field also drew him, he said.
"The future of the California economy is sometimes not seen outside the Bay Area, but it is very dependent on maritime professionals," Cropper said.
"The Pacific will mean very much to the prosperity of the United States and to Californians," he said.
To weather through the state fiscal crisis and funding cuts to all 23 CSU campuses, Cropper said he would work with other administrators to find non-traditional ways of supporting the school.
While Cropper has no direct higher education experience, he said he brings a wealth of experience in running Naval training and education operations, and of working with young adults.
He also recently left a command where he had two campuses under his tutelage including the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Pacific and the Tactical Training Group in San Diego, he said.
CSU Trustee Pete Mehas, who chaired the search committee, said Cropper "brings a stellar maritime career, superb leadership skills and excellent management experience" to his new role.
In his most recent work, Cropper directed education and at-sea training for ships and aviation squadrons deploying to the western Pacific and the Middle East.
From 2008 to 2010, he led and managed 24,000 people in combat operations as the deputy commander of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain.
He also headed up an officer team at the Pentagon which worked with representatives of each armed forces chief, the State Department and other agencies.
From 2005 to 2007, Cropper served as chief of staff for the U.S. Third Fleet, where he coordinated training of eight naval battle groups.
Cropper earned a bachelor's degree in Engineering Operations from Iowa State, and three master's degrees in Aviation Systems from University of Tennessee, National Security and Strategic Studies from U.S. Naval War College, and World Politics from the Catholic University.