Jolene Koester, president of California State University, Northridge, has announced her plans to step down and retire from her position at the end of December 2011. Koester became the fourth president of Cal State Northridge in July 2000, committed to furthering the excellence of the university.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve as president of California State University, Northridge,” commented Jolene Koester. “This is a university committed to fostering change in lives, families and the region. My time at the university has involved a personal engagement with a mission I care deeply about and whose faculty, staff and students have daily inspired me. The spirit of collaboration has made my work here productive and fulfilling—and has been a most exhilarating and satisfying professional responsibility.”
Charles B. Reed, Chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system, commented, “Jolene’s transformational leadership, vision and great passion for public higher education have influenced tens of thousands of students, and have helped Cal State Northridge flourish. The campus is a better, stronger and more successful university in every way, and Jolene has been a role model and leader among CSU presidents, as well as the national higher education community. We are grateful for her years of service.”
Regarding her retirement, Koester has shared that her plans include some rest and rejuvenation, along with the pursuit of research around the role of communication and how it contributes to the successes and efforts to deal with the challenges that university presidents and chancellors currently face.
As an active member of the community, Koester serves on the boards of directors for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. She is also a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and the Los Angeles Jobs and Economy Committee. Known nationally for her leadership in the area of higher education, she is a past chair of the Board of Directors for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Koester has been recognized for her leadership in the community as a Business Woman of the Decade by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2011; the 2004 Pioneer Woman Award for Los Angeles City Council District 12, presented by the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women and the Los Angeles City Council; the Armand Arabian Leaders in Public Service Award given by the Encino Chamber of Commerce in 2002; and a “Woman Who Means Business” Award given by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, also in 2002. In 2003,
Koester accepted a Star of the Valley Award from the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley on behalf of the university.
Prior to her presidency at Cal State Northridge, Koester served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University, Sacramento, a post she held from 1993 to 2000. Before her service as provost, she held other executive positions in the academic affairs division at Sacramento State. She started at Sac State as a professor of communication studies in 1980. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1970, a master’s degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1971 and a Ph.D. in speech communication from Minnesota in 1980.
Chancellor Reed will announce plans for selecting Koester’s successor, following procedures and policies established for the selection of CSU presidents by the CSU Board of Trustees.
California State University, Northridge has approximately 35,000 full- and part-time students and offers 66 bachelor’s and 53 master’s degrees as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Founded in 1958, Cal State Northridge is among the largest single-campus universities in the nation and the only four-year public university in the San Fernando Valley. The university serves as the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Valley and beyond.
To see President Koester’s announcement to the campus regarding her retirement, visit this link.
PRESIDENT OF CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE
HIGHLIGHTS OF TENURE
• Northridge today is one of the 50 largest public universities in the nation, with undergraduate and graduate enrollment of approximately 35,000 students. Applications have skyrocketed since 2000 and enrollment has climbed 18% since Koester assumed the presidency.
• The university’s reputation for academic excellence and community service and support has grown exponentially under her leadership. The university was selected among four institutions nationally by the Carnegie Corporation of America to participate in the “Teachers for A New Era” initiative in teacher training, and today Northridge educates and credentials more teachers than the entire University of California system combined. The curriculum has also expanded and deepened in quality since her arrival. Two new applied doctoral programs, one in educational leadership and one in physical therapy, have been launched, and Koester oversaw a university-wide effort to streamline general education requirements for undergraduates. Also during her tenure, Northridge became the only CSU campus in the state to offer a major in Central American studies.
• Graduation rates of entering freshmen have experienced strong growth during her tenure, continuing a trend that began in the mid-1990s.
• The campus environs have undergone a physical renaissance since Koester’s arrival, continuing the work of re-building following the devastating Northridge earthquake in the mid-1990s. Guided by a master planning process initiated by Koester and called “Envision 2035,” several important new academic and support buildings have been constructed. Chaparral Hall, dedicated in 2010, provides state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory space for the biological sciences. Three new student residence halls have substantially increased the number of students living on campus. These facilities—complemented by the renovation of University Student Union and a soon-to-open 100,000-square-foot Student Recreation Center and several new indoor and outdoor food service locations—have helped to transform the student experience on campus.
• The new crown jewel of the four-valley region, the $125 million Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge dedicated in January 2011, instantly branded the campus as a leader in community outreach and signaled the arrival of an important new player in Southern California’s arts scene.
• Success in fundraising has been another signature contribution of Koester’s tenure. Since her arrival in 2000, more than $190 million has been raised from private sources. The endowment, plus other assets of the California State University, Northridge Foundation, has grown fourfold to nearly $100 million. Significant major gifts, from Michael and Jane Eisner and Mike and Linda Curb, have resulted in the naming of two of the university’s nine academic colleges.