Story Leadership

CSU’s Presidents Are Diverse, Inclusive and Driven to Engage Students

Toni Molle



​CSU presidents attend the September 2016 Board of Trustees' meeting in Long Beach. 


​​According to the American Council on Education, although more than 57 percent of students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities are women, they account for only 26 percent of college presidents. At California State University, 47.8 percent of our campus presidents are women. With the start of the new academic year, CSU will have a total of 11 women presidents—the largest number in CSU history and double the national average. In the last year alone, the CSU Board of Trustees has approved and appointed five women to fill the top leadership roles at Channel Islands, Chico, San Jose, Sonoma State, and Stanislaus. In addition to gender diversity, the CSU's campus presidential leadership team represents the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of the students of California. 

"CSU presidents all share a tremendous passion for the students and communities we serve," said Chancellor Timothy P. White, who has made timely graduation and closing student achievement gaps a priority for the system. "We are fortunate that our unique mission attracts visionary leaders who advance the CSU legacy of inclusive excellence."

Presidents report to the chancellor and represent their campus on the systemwide Executive Council. As the chief executive officers of their campuses, CSU presidents lead strategic planning, identify development and growth opportunities, oversee the academic program and serve as each campus' number one advocate, representing the university to a wide range of stakeholders from students and parents to faculty, staff, lawmakers, alumni, business partners and donors.  Campus presidents also spearhead multi-million fund-raising campaigns to provide student scholarships and facilitate community and agency partnerships to enhance the academic program through faculty and student research opportunities and program enhancements.

 Presidential Hiring Spreadsheet


CSU's 23 presidents:

Erika D. Beck

California State University Channel Islands

Beck was appointed by the CSU Board of Trustees on March 9, 2016 as the third president of CSU Channel Islands. She is the campus' first female president. Prior to her appointment, she served as provost and executive vice president at Nevada State College in Henderson, Nevada. In this role, Beck provided leadership for academic affairs, student affairs, enrollment management, institutional research, and instructional technology.

Gayle E. Hutchinson

California State University, Chico

Before being selected as Chico State's 15th president in July 2016, Hutchinson served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at CSU Channel Islands, the newest of 23 campuses in the CSU system serving more than 6,000 students. She began her career in higher education at CSU Chico, joining the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology in 1990.

Mary Papazian

San Jose State University

A seasoned leader with more than 25 years of teaching and academic administrative experience, Papazian joined San Jose State as its 29th president on July 1, 2016. Most recently, she served as president of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Judy K. Sakaki

Sonoma State University

Sakaki is the first Japanese-American female president to lead a U.S. public university and is Sonoma State's seventh president.  She was appointed July 1, 2016. Previously, Sakaki served as Vice President, Student Affairs in the University of California, Office of the President. 

Ellen N. Junn

California State University, Stanislaus

Junn was appointed on July 1, 2016 as CSU Stanislaus's 11th president.  Over the last 25 years, Junn served in teaching and leadership positions at five CSU campuses.  Prior to her appointment, she was served as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at CSU Dominguez Hills.

Robert S. Nelsen

California State University, Sacramento

Nelsen became Sacramento State's eighth permanent president on July 1, 2015. His experience in public higher education spans nearly three decades, most of it spent in the University of Texas system. He was president of UT-Pan American from 2010 to 2014 and most recently served as special advisor to UT's executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Soraya M. Coley

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Coley became the sixth and first female president of Cal Poly Pomona in January 2015. She came to Cal Poly Pomona from CSU Bakersfield, where she was the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. She also served as the interim vice president for University Advancement. Prior to that time, she served as Cal State Fullerton's Dean of the College of Human Development and Community Service.

Lisa Rossbacher

Humboldt State University

Rossbacher is the first woman geologist to become a university president in North America.  She began her tenure as the seventh president of Humboldt State in July 2014. She was previously the president of Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. Rossbacher also worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA, a geothermal exploration company, and National Public Radio, in addition to serving as a faculty member and administrator at Cal Poly Pomona, Whittier College, and Dickinson College.

Jane Close Conoley

California State University, Long Beach

Conoley is the first woman to be appointed president of Cal State Long Beach and the seventh president overall in the 65-year history of the campus. Immediately prior to coming to CSULB in 2014, Conoley served as dean of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).  She also served from November 2012 to August 2013 as the interim Chancellor of UC Riverside.

Joseph I. Castro

California State University, Fresno

Castro was appointed as the eighth president of Fresno State in 2013. He joined Fresno State after holding several leadership positions at UC campuses, most recently serving as vice chancellor, Student Academic Affairs at UC San Francisco. He is a native of Hanford, California, in the San Joaquin Valley and he is the first member of his family to attend college.

William A. Covino

California State University, Los Angeles

Covino was appointed as president of Cal State L.A. in 2013. He is the seventh president and the first in his family to earn a college degree.

Prior to his appointment at Cal State L.A., Covino served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Fresno State since 2009.

Mildred García

California State University, Fullerton

García was appointed as the seventh president of Cal State Fullerton in June 2012. Previously, García served as president of CSU Dominguez Hills, where she was the 11th female president—and first Latina president—in the CSU system.

Willie Hagan

California State University, Dominguez Hills

Hagan is the 10th president of California State University, Dominguez Hills. He became interim president in June 2012 and was named its permanent president in 2013. Prior to his appointment as interim president of CSU Dominguez Hills, Hagan served as the interim president at Cal State Fullerton. Previously, he served as CSU Fullerton's vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer. In that role, Hagan was responsible for all administrative, business and financial operations of CSU Fullerton's $380-million enterprise.

Dianne F. Harrison

California State University, Northridge  

Harrison began her appointment as president of Cal State Northridge in June 2012. Previously, Harrison served as president of CSU Monterey Bay. Known for her commitment to students, academic excellence and comprehensive development, Harrison has a reputation for building strong partnerships with public and private institutions—enabling students, faculty and staff to cross institutional boundaries and engage in innovative instruction.

Eduardo M. Ochoa

California State University, Monterey Bay

Ochoa began his appointment as president of CSU Monterey Bay in July 2012. He returned to the CSU after serving in the Obama Administration as the U.S. assistant secretary for Postsecondary Education—the secretary of education's chief advisor on higher education issues. Prior to that role, Ochoa served for seven years as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Sonoma State.

Thomas A. Cropper

California State University Maritime Academy

Cropper was appointed president of Cal Maritime in 2012—following a 31-year career in the United States Navy. Most recently, Cropper directed education and at-sea training for Navy ships and aviation squadrons deploying to the western Pacific and the Middle East.

Tomás D. Morales

California State University, San Bernardino

Morales was selected as the president of Cal State San Bernardino in May 2012. He is the university's fourth president since it opened in 1965. Previously, Morales was president of the College of Staten Island, The City University of New York (CUNY), serving there beginning in 2007.

Leroy M. Morishita

California State University, East Bay

Leroy M. Morishita was appointed as president of California State University, East Bay in 2012, after beginning his service as the university's interim president in 2011. He came to CSU East Bay from San Francisco State University, where he served as executive vice president for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer. 

Leslie E. Wong

San Francisco State University

Wong began his tenure as the 13th president of San Francisco State in 2012. Previously, Wong served nine years as president of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.

Elliot Hirshman

San Diego State University

Hirshman has served as president of San Diego State University since 2011 — a period in which SDSU has raised its profile as a major public research university. SDSU ranks in the top 15 for students studying abroad and for ethnic and economic diversity; Forbes, Fortune and U.S. News & World Report rank it in the top 25 for entrepreneurship; and the university has produced 85 Fulbright student scholars in the past decade.

Jeffrey D. Armstrong

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Armstrong started his tenure as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's ninth president in 2011.  Prior to joining Cal Poly, he served as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and professor of animal science at Michigan State University, beginning in 2001. 

Horace Mitchell

California State University, Bakersfield

Mitchell became the fourth president at CSU Bakersfield in 2004.

Under Mitchell's leadership, CSU Bakersfield has entered a period of rapid development. Mitchell has extended the excellence and diversity of faculty and academic programs, enhanced the quality of the student experience, and strengthened the university's community engagement.

Karen S. Haynes

California State University San Marcos

Haynes has served as the third president of California State University San Marcos since 2004. Guided by a comprehensive strategic plan, Haynes has overseen tremendous growth at Cal State San Marcos, from a larger, more diverse student population to the physical expansion of the campus. Under her leadership, the university has won acclaim for excellence in 21st-century learning: building educational access and equity, institutional accountability, community engagement, and making a transformational regional impact. She is a first-generation college student.

Graduation Initiative