Adam Day is that rare person who truly loves what he does. “I’m probably too committed to my job,” concedes Day, the Chief Administrative Officer of San Diego County’s Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation

“I love helping people and solving problems; I think that’s the best way to summarize who I am and what I’ve done in my professional career.”

Now Day has the opportunity to share his leadership expertise on an even greater scale: In May 2018, he began his tenure as chairman of the California State University Board of Trustees, the governing body for the country's largest system of public higher education. He assumes the position at a pivotal time: “The marketplace and the workforce are changing and evolving, so the role of higher education is to make sure that students are prepared for that future economy," notes Day.

Having spent decades building partnerships at the local, state and national level, Day is ideally positioned to take the CSU to new heights. “Adam came to us with substantial experience in government,” says Cody Martinez, Tribal Chairman of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. “The relationships he has and has built up over his career have enabled Sycuan to set itself apart from other tribes.”

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Leading the CSU to the Future

“Education,” Day has said, “is in my blood.” With a campus president for a father (San Diego State University president Thomas Day, who served for nearly two decades) and a professor of education as a grandfather, it might have seemed inevitable for the 1991 San Diego State alumnus to combine his love of service with ensuring more students earn a college degree. 

“College isn’t necessarily for everybody, but everyone should have the opportunity if they want it,” he says. “So I’m a true believer — especially for first-generation students — of showing them what opportunities are available to them and helping them achieve their dreams.”

As Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Day wants to ensure the CSU's value is grounded and relevant, both to the nearly half a million current students and the more than three million alumni. 

“I think it’s important to challenge ourselves to make sure that that degree means something to students in a very tangible way,” explains Day. “We need to be nimble enough to modify our curriculum, programs or degrees to serve where this country and this globe is going, while also making sure our students have the basic underpinnings of a degree.”

And while the CSU may have its challenges, Day is nothing if not optimistic, especially when he sees the unprecedented range on the current board. “We have a diversity of background and opinion and each and every one of the [trustees] are actively engaged and all care deeply about the success of the CSU,” says Day. 

“I’m very excited about the future.”