Shortly after announcing that graduation rates have reached all-time highs, the California State University celebrated another significant milestone: for the first time in the CSU system’s nearly six decade history, a majority of women currently lead as campus presidents. 

CSU presidents, trustees, students, employees and other higher education leaders gathered to celebrate the CSU’s female leaders at a special reception at Cal State San Marcos on October 18. 

The event—part of the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Women’s Leadership Forum held at the campus October 18-19—provided an opportunity to acknowledge the diverse leadership of the CSU and the achievements of its women presidents. 

“With women leading 12 of the 23 campuses, the CSU has set a new ceiling,” said CSU Trustee Wenda Fong. “Thanks to the leadership of Chancellor White and the Board, we have remarkable, qualified and inspirational leaders. It is so gratifying because they are not only the leaders of their campuses, but they are role models for everyone that sees them.” 

The expanded diversity among presidents has been a key goal of Chancellor Timothy P. White. During his tenure, the CSU has appointed 17 presidents, of whom 10 are women.

Currently, 52.2 percent of CSU campus presidents are women—nearly double the national average for U.S. colleges and universities. Twelve campuses—Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Chico, Humboldt, Long Beach, Northridge, Pomona, San Diego, San José, San Marcos, Sonoma and Stanislaus—are currently led by women.

“Possibilities for leadership in young women in higher education are brighter tomorrow than they were yesterday. So this is a real crowning achievement, something to be really proud of,” said CSU Channel Islands President Erika Beck. 

Beck also offered a piece of advice for women interested in pursuing a university leadership role: “No is never no, it’s just ‘not yet.’ Higher education will be better for your leadership. The more diverse voices we have at the table, the better off we’ll be moving forward.” 


Learn more about what inspires the CSU’s women presidents and how their leadership is changing lives in our “Women & Leadership” series, profiling the 12 female campus presidents of the CSU.