May 25, 2024  
2016-2018 Catalog 
2016-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

About the University

History of Cal State San Marcos

As far back as 1968, business and civic leaders in North San Diego County were working to interest state legislators and educational leaders in developing a state university in their region. The efforts were unsuccessful until 1978, when then-Assemblyman William A. Craven obtained state funds to begin a satellite facility. The North County satellite began offering classes out of a portable classroom in Vista in 1979, and grew steadily through the 1980s in rented office facilities in San Marcos.

Legislative, educational, and business leaders continued to plan for a permanent state university in the region. In 1989, two decades after local citizens had begun the process, a new state university – California State University San Marcos—was approved through legislation (SB360) and signed into law by then-Governor George Deukmejian. Initial academic planning and the first two years of classes took place at “Cal State Jerome’s,” as students nicknamed the shopping mall campus, while the initial buildings were under construction.

Cal State San Marcos is a fully accredited state university, recognized for quality in undergraduate and graduate academic offerings, hands-on research, and community service learning. Built with an eye towards the needs of the future, CSUSM gives its students the benefits of access to the newest science labs, cutting-edge multimedia computer technology, and the energy of some of the brightest and most enthusiastic faculty in the country.

These faculty members enforce a rigorous writing requirement across the curriculum, as well as computer and second language competencies that give students an advantage with graduate school training or the job market. The emphasis at Cal State San Marcos is on community-based learning opportunities that integrate the classroom with real world experiences.

The campus has more than one million square feet of facilities, all of which have been constructed since 1990. The primary academic facilities include Kellogg Library, a 200,000-square-foot facility that opened in 2003 and can accommodate 840,000 volumes and seat 1,600 students, two science laboratory buildings, and classroom space for more than 7,000 students. Markstein Hall, home of the College of Business Administration, opened in spring 2006 and features 1,300 classroom seats that are “wired” for laptops, Harvard style case-study rooms, and tiered “Smart” classrooms. The Social and Behavioral Science Building, which opened in 2011, is the largest classroom/office building on campus. This 106,000-square-foot facility earned Silver LEED Certification for its environmentally-friendly and sustainable features.

In early 2014, CSUSM opened its University Student Union. The University Student Union is the “heart beat” of campus and features food and retail shops, meeting space, and study areas. CSUSM also features a growing athletics program which includes volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, golf, cross country, and track and field, along with baseball and softball. Currently part of the NAIA, CSUSM has its sight set on becoming a member of the NCAA.

While growing its facilities, the campus also continues to add in-demand majors such as biotechnology, kinesiology, criminology and justice studies, nursing, and global studies. CSUSM will continue to add to its academic offerings in order to meet the needs of the region. But whether it’s in the middle of a great building boom or occupying the humble space rented next to a furniture store, Cal State San Marcos has always been a place where students, as the founding faculty wrote, “realize their potentialities as enlightened individuals and productive members of society in a world of change.”

History of Tukwut at Cal State San Marcos

In 1990 the first class of students at Cal State San Marcos decided they would like to honor the indigenous people on whose ancestral lands the new university was soon to be built. They approached librarian Bonnie Biggs, who was doing work with the local Indian community. The students wanted to learn the Luiseño words for “mountain lion” and “pioneer.”

Ms. Biggs contacted the Rincon Tribal Library, which was involved in collecting oral histories from Luiseño elders. Villiana Hyde, one of the remaining tribal elders still fluent in the language, provided the word “tukwut,” which means “mountain lion” in Luiseño.

And so the first class of students at Cal State San Marcos named their first and only yearbook Tukwut, and the name was unofficially adopted as the mascot of our campus.

The California State University

Welcome to the California State University (CSU) – the world’s largest comprehensive higher education system in the nation with 23 unique campuses serving more than 474,000 students with 49,000 employees statewide. Each year, the University awards more than 100,000 degrees. CSU graduates now total more than 3 million strong, and are serving as leaders in the industries that drive California’s economy, including business, agriculture, entertainment, engineering, teaching, hospitality and healthcare. Learn more at

More than 50-Year Tradition of Excellence

Since 1961, the CSU has provided an affordable, accessible, and high-quality education to 3 million graduates around the state of California. While each campus is unique based on its curricular specialties, location and campus culture, every CSU is distinguished for the quality of its educational programs. All campuses are fully accredited, provide a high-quality broad liberal educational program and offer opportunities for students to engage in campus life through the Associated Students, Inc., clubs and service learning. Through leading-edge programs, superior teaching and extensive workforce training opportunities, CSU students graduate with the critical thinking skills, industry knowledge and hands-on experience necessary for employment and career advancement.


  • CSU faculty attract nearly $570 million annually in research and education grants, and contracts by federal, state and regional agencies.
  • Today, one of every 20 Americans with a college degree is a CSU graduate.
  • One in every 10 employees in California is a CSU alumnus.
  • The CSU awards 45 percent of the bachelor’s degrees earned in California.
  • More than half of all the nurses in the state earn their degrees from the CSU.
  • The CSU awards 95 percent of the hospitality/tourism degrees in the state.
  • Nearly half of all of the state’s engineers earn their degrees from the CSU.
  • The CSU is the leading provider of teacher preparation programs in the state.
  • The CSU offers more than 115 fully online and 96 hybrid degree programs and concentrations.
  • The CSU offers 3,250 online courses to provide more educational options to students who may prefer an online format to a traditional classroom setting.
  • The CSU’s growing online concurrent enrollment program gives students the ability to enroll in courses offered by other campuses in the CSU system.
  • Over the past four years, the CSU has issued nearly 50,000 professional development certificates in education, health services, business and technology, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, international trade and many other industries.
  • Nearly half of the CSU’s 474,000 students are engaged in some type of community service, totaling 32 million hours of service annually.
  • More than 13,000 students participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) service-learning courses.
  • For every $1 that the state invests in the CSU, the University generates $5.43 for California’s economy.


The system is governed by the Board of Trustees, most of whom are appointed by the governor and serve with faculty and student representatives. The CSU Chancellor is the chief executive officer, reporting to the Board. The campus presidents serve as the campus-level chief executive officers. The Trustees, Chancellor and presidents develop systemwide educational policy. The presidents, in consultation with the Academic Senate and other campus stakeholder groups, render and implement local policy decisions.

CSU Historical Milestones

The individual California State Colleges were established as a system with a Board of Trustees and a Chancellor in 1960 by the Donahoe Higher Education Act. In 1972, the system was designated as the California State University and Colleges, and in 1982 the system became the California State University (CSU). Today, the CSU is comprised of 23 campuses, including comprehensive and polytechnic universities and, since July 1995, the California Maritime Academy, a specialized campus.

The oldest campus—San José State University—was founded in 1857 and became the first institution of public higher education in California. The newest—CSU Channel Islands—opened in fall 2002, with freshmen arriving in fall 2003.

In 1963, the State Academic Senate was established to act as the official voice of CSU faculty in systemwide matters. Also, the California State College Student Presidents Association—which was later renamed the California State Students Association—was founded to represent each campus student association on issues affecting students.

Through its many decades of existence, the CSU has continued to adapt to address societal changes, student needs and workforce trends. While the CSU’s core mission has always focused on providing high-quality, affordable bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, over time the University has added a wide range of services and programs to support student success – from adding health centers and special programs for veterans to building student residential facilities to provide a comprehensive educational experience.

To improve degree completion and accommodate students working full- or part-time, the educational paradigm expanded to give students the ability to complete upper-division and graduate requirements through part-time, late afternoon, and evening study. The University also expanded its programs to include a variety of teaching and school service credential programs, specially designed for working professionals.

The CSU marked another significant educational milestone when it broadened its degree offerings to include doctoral degrees. The CSU independently offers educational doctorate (Ed.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs. A limited number of other doctoral degrees are offered jointly with the University of California and private institutions in California.

In 2010, in an effort to accommodate community college transfer students, the university, in concert with the California Community Colleges, launched the Associate Degree for Transfer, which guarantees transfer students admission to the CSU with junior status.

Always adapting to changes in technology and societal trends to support student learning and degree completion, the CSU initiated another milestone in 2013, when it launched CalState Online, a systemwide collection of services that support the delivery of fully online programs from campuses. Now, full-time students also have access to fully online courses offered at other CSU campuses.

By providing an accessible, hands-on education that prepares graduates for career success, the CSU has created a network of alumni so extensive and renowned that it spans across the globe. In 2014-15, the CSU celebrated The Class of 3 Million, the year-round campaign celebrating the 3 million alumni from all of CSU’s campuses, including the Class of 2015.

The CSU strives to continually develop innovative programs, services and opportunities that will give students the tools they need to meet their full potential. With 23 campuses, 474,000 students and 49,000 faculty and staff, the CSU is committed to providing a quality higher education that prepares students to become leaders in the changing workforce.

Campuses of the California State University

California State University, Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Highway
Bakersfield, CA 93311-1022
Dr. Horace Mitchell, President
(661) 654-2782

California State University, Channel Islands
One University Drive
Camarillo, CA 93012
Dr. Erika D. Beck, President 
(805) 437-8400

California State University, Chico
400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929
Dr. Gayle E. Hutchinson, President 
(530) 898-4636

California State University, Dominguez Hills
1000 East Victoria Street
Carson, CA 90747
Dr. Willie Hagan, President
(310) 243-3696

California State University, East Bay
25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard
Hayward, CA 94542
Dr. Leroy M. Morishita, President
(510) 885-3000

California State University, Fresno
5241 North Maple Avenue
Fresno, CA 93740
Dr. Joseph I. Castro, President
(559) 278-4240

California State University, Fullerton
800 N. State College Boulevard
Fullerton, CA 92831-3599
Dr. Mildred Garcia, President
(657) 278-2011

Humboldt State University
One Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521-8299
Dr. Lisa A. Rossbacher, President
(707) 826-3011

California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90840-0115
Dr. Jane Close Conoley, President
(562) 985-4111

California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Dr. William A. Covino, President
(323) 343-3000

California Maritime Academy
200 Maritime Academy Drive
Vallejo, CA 94590
Rear Admiral Thomas A. Cropper, President
(707) 654-1000

California State University, Monterey Bay
100 Campus Center
Seaside, CA 93955-8001
Dr. Eduardo M. Ochoa, President
(831) 582-3000

California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
Dr. Dianne F. Harrison President
(818) 677-1200

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
3801 W. Temple Avenue
Pomona, CA 91768
Dr. Soraya M. Coley, President
(909) 869 7659

California State University, Sacramento
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819
Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, President
(916) 278-6011

California State University, San Bernardino
5500 University Parkway
San Bernardino, CA 92407-2318
Dr. Tomás D. Morales, President
(909) 537-5000

San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
Dr. Elliot Hirshman, President
(619) 594-5200

San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
Dr. Leslie E. Wong, President
(415) 338-1111

San José State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0001
Dr. Mary A. Papazian, President
(408) 924-1000

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
One Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Dr. Jeffrey D. Armstrong, President
(805) 756-1111

California State University San Marcos
333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road
San Marcos, CA 92096-0001
Dr. Karen S. Haynes, President
(760) 750-4000

Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Dr. Judy K. Sakaki, President
(707) 664-2880

California State University, Stanislaus
One University Circle
Turlock, CA 95382
Dr. Ellen N. Junn, President 
(209) 667-3122