Golden Gate University in downtown San Francisco, may be the fifth largest private university in California, but its students hardly fit the bill of your average college attendee.
Most of GGU’s enrollment is made up of adults hoping to get specialized degrees, so the university’s size and demographics make for an interesting challenge to anyone looking to lead the institution effectively.
Enter Dan Angel, a man whose career has spanned nearly 30 years in administrative roles at various community colleges and universities across the country.
Beginning this month, Angel is the new president of GGU, after seven years at Marshall University, the West Virginia school that is the focus of a popular new motion picture, where he was the school’s president as well as a professor of higher education.
Angel replaced Philip Friedman, who retired.
Angel, a native of Michigan, attended Wayne State University in Detroit, graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. He graduated from Purdue University in Indiana with a doctoral degree in communications.
Angel first moved into politics, eventually serving in the Michigan House as a state representative for six years. But he found the bureaucracy stifling.
"It was frustrating working in the house, because everyone had a different agenda," Angel said. "I wanted to take on a more executive role, where I thought I could implement change better, and I was able to find that in administrative positions at universities."
The resulting move to education took Angel on a journey from community colleges in Southern California (such as Imperial Valley) to a four-year university in Texas (Stephen F. Austin.), among others.
Angel sees considerable potential at GGU, especially in its burgeoning online community, where nearly 33 percent of the school’s courses take place.
GGU has 4,525 graduate students and 877 undergraduates.
"As adults with a considerable amount of responsibilities, it’s hard for them to find time make it to campus everyday," Angel said. "We want to ease the process of getting a degree."
Along with boosting the online courses, Angel also has big plans for increasing the school’s accounting program, as well as wooing more of the foreign students flowing in from China. Initiatives such as these are ones Angel has habitually welcomed.
"I’ve worked at a number of different places across the country, so I’m always up for the challenge," Angel said. "Because I’m often on the move, I see things from a new perspective, and I think that’s kind of a "booster shot" for the institution — a way to infuse new energy and ideas."