Jun 17, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

About the University

History of Cal State San Marcos

Since its founding in 1989, California State University, San Marcos has been dedicated to student success, social mobility and innovation. Through first-year programs, learning communities, internships, undergraduate research and much more, the university works to foster deep learning and academic success by engaging students in meaningful and innovative educational experiences. Located on a 306-acre hillside overlooking the city of San Marcos, CSUSM is the only public four-year comprehensive university serving North San Diego, Southwest Riverside and South Orange counties.
As early as the 1960s, business and civic leaders in North San Diego County advocated for the development of a state university in the region.
In 1969, California State University Chancellor Glenn S. Dumke issued a report that detailed the need for a new university campus in North County. Working with local business and civic leaders, State Senator William A. Craven obtained state funds to begin a satellite campus for San Diego State University in 1978, paving the way for the opening of a campus at Lincoln Middle School in Vista that served 148 students. By 1982, the satellite campus needed more space to meet growing demand and moved to an office building on Los Vallecitos Boulevard in San Marcos.
With enrollment continuing to increase at SDSU North County, CSU trustees purchased the future permanent home of CSUSM — the Prohoroff Poultry Farm in San Marcos — for $10.6 million in 1988. A year later, Governor George Deukmejian signed Senate Bill 365 into law, officially reconstituting the SDSU satellite campus as California State University, San Marcos — the United States’ first comprehensive public university to be founded in two decades.
When Bill W. Stacy was named CSUSM’s founding president in September 1989, he got right to work assembling faculty, building a curriculum, recruiting a student body and planning construction of a physical campus.
CSUSM opened in August 1990 in rented office space with 448 juniors and seniors, a dozen faculty members, and nine majors. In 1991, seven students were awarded the first Bachelor of Arts degrees in campus history. And, in Fall 1992, the permanent campus opened following the completion of Craven Hall, Academic Hall and Science Hall I.
By the time Stacy left in 1997, the university had a student body of almost 4,500 and offered 19 bachelor’s degrees, 15 teacher credentials and eight master’s degrees.
CSUSM saw continued growth under Alexander Gonzalez, who was appointed as Stacy’s interim replacement in 1997 and was named the permanent president two years later.
Gonzalez oversaw the opening of several new buildings, including University Hall, Science Hall II, the Arts Building and the first on-campus student housing. In 1998, he also established the department of athletics, which debuted with six teams – men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s track and field. Athletics welcomed an on-campus home in 2003 with the opening of the M. Gordon Clarke Field House, made possible by a pledge of $1.2 million from Helene Clarke in honor of her husband.
Following Gonzalez’s departure in 2003, the university welcomed the person who would become its longest-serving president, Karen S. Haynes.
CSUSM averaged a new building every year for more than a decade during Haynes’ tenure, including:

  • Kellogg Library, which was bolstered by generous support from Jean and W. Keith Kellogg II.
  • Markstein Hall, which was made possible by a pledge of $5 million from Ken and Carole Markstein for the home of the College of Business Administration.
  • Center for Children and Families, a state-of-the-art day care and preschool facility offering quality child care for students, faculty, staff and the community as well as providing meaningful real-world learning opportunities for CSUSM students.
  • McMahan House, a special event and conference facility funded by a generous $4.4 million donation from JoAn and Richard McMahan.
  • University Student Union, the 90,000-square-foot hub of student life on campus.
  • The Sports Center, home to Cougars men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball.

Haynes also oversaw the launch of numerous programs and initiatives, including the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center, which fosters collaboration and understanding between the university and regional American Indian communities; the CSU Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care, named in recognition of Haynes and longtime supporter Darlene Marcos Shiley and dedicated to increasing access to palliative care by educating current and future health professionals; and ACE Scholars Services, a one-of-a-kind program to support former foster youth.
Haynes’ tenure also saw CSUSM successfully launch and complete its first major philanthropic campaign, Forward Together, an ambitious effort to raise $50 million.
While CSUSM discovered and honed its voice over its first three decades, the university’s fourth president, Ellen J. Neufeldt, is ushering in the next 30 years.
Innovation has been one of Neufeldt’s main pillars since she arrived in July 2019. Among her early accomplishments was the founding of CSUSM’s Innovation Hub, which supports the community by addressing societal needs through innovative practices and partnerships situated at the intersection of diversity, inclusion and student success, with a focus on enriching the intellectual, civic, economic, and cultural life of our region.
CSUSM remains firmly committed to diversity and inclusion, receiving the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, for the ninth straight year in 2022.  
The university also stands among the national leaders in the social mobility of its graduates, ranking 32nd nationally out of almost 1,500 schools measured in the 2021 Social Mobility Index by CollegeNET. The index measures the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students at lower tuition and graduates them into good-paying jobs.
About half of CSUSM students are underrepresented minorities, and 58% of graduates in the Class of 2022 were the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. One in nine students is a veteran, service member, or military-affiliated dependent. CSUSM is also a major contributor of bachelor’s degree holders to the region’s workforce, with 80% of students remaining in the region following graduation.
Youthful and enterprising, CSUSM has an unrivaled track record for success. Today, the university is fueling more than $458 million into the region each year and supporting thousands of jobs.

History of Tukwut at Cal State San Marcos

In 1990, the first class of students at CSUSM wanted 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 American Indian community. The students wanted to learn the Luiseño words for “mountain lion” and “pioneer.”

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.

That inaugural class named its first and only yearbook “Tukwut,” and the name was unofficially adopted as the campus mascot.

The California State University

The California State University (CSU) is the nation’s largest and most diverse four-year public university. With 23 unique universities and seven off-campus centers, the CSU serves more than 450,000 students and employs more than 63,000 faculty and staff.
Each year, the CSU awards nearly 127,000 degrees, changing the trajectory of students’ lives by opening doors to opportunities for upward mobility. Nearly one-third of CSU students are the first in their families to attend college and more than half of CSU students are from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.  
For one of the most affordable tuitions in the country, students learn from world-class faculty, gain valuable hands-on experiences and receive strong career advising, empowering them to become leaders in the changing workforce.
CSU graduates are serving as leaders in the industries that drive California’s economy, including business, agriculture, entertainment, engineering, teaching, hospitality and health care. To learn more, visit the California State University website.

A Tradition of Excellence for More than Six Decades

Since 1961, the CSU has provided an affordable, accessible and high-quality education to millions of Californians. While each university is unique based on its curricular specialties, location, and culture, every CSU is distinguished for the quality of its educational programs. All CSUs are fully accredited, provide a high-quality, broad liberal educational program, and offer opportunities for students to engage in university life through the Associated Students, Inc., clubs and service learning.


  • Today, one in every 20 Americans with a college degree is a CSU graduate.
  • One in every 10 employees in California is a CSU graduate.
  • The CSU’s network of more than 4 million alumni is larger than the population of 23 U.S. states.
  • The CSU awards nearly half of the bachelor’s degrees earned in California.
  • The CSU awards more than one-quarter of California’s baccalaureate nursing degrees.
  • Between 2017 and 2022, the CSU prepared more of California’s teachers than any other state institution.
  • About 4 percent of the nation’s teachers graduate from the CSU.
  • In 2022-23, CSU students earned nearly 20,000 undergraduate business degrees and more than 7,300 engineering degrees.
  • The CSU offers more than 4,000 degree programs that align with the state’s workforce demands.
  • The CSU’s online concurrent enrollment program gives students the ability to enroll in courses offered by other universities in the CSU system.
  • Through CSU community engagement centers, 33,765 students participated in service-learning, contributing more than 656,000 hours of service in 2022-2023.


The CSU 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 presidents serve as the university-level chief executive officers. The trustees, chancellor and presidents develop university-wide educational policy. The presidents, in consultation with the CSU Academic Senate and other university 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 comprises 23 member universities, including comprehensive and polytechnic universities and, since July 1995, the California State University Maritime Academy, a specialized university.

The oldest university—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. And in 2022, the CSU in Humboldt became California Polytechnic University, Humboldt, joining San Luis Obispo and Pomona as the state’s third public polytechnical university.

In 1963, the CSU’s Academic Senate was established to act as the official voice of CSU faculty in university-wide matters. Also, the California State College Student Presidents Association, which was later renamed the California State Student Association (CSSA), was founded to represent each university student association on issues affecting students.

Through its many decades of service, 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.

In 2010, in an effort to accommodate community college transfer students, the CSU, in concert with the California Community Colleges (CCC), launched the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT), which guarantees CCC transfer students with an ADT admission to the CSU with junior status. The ADT has since proven to be the most effective path to a CSU for community college transfer students.

In 2023, the CSU launched the Transfer Success Pathway program to guarantee future CSU admission to high school graduates who are entering a California community college and who commit to transferring within three years.

Always adapting to changes in technology to support student learning and degree completion, the CSU launched CSU Fully Online, which enables CSU students to complete online courses at other CSUs, expanding enrollment opportunities and providing more educational opportunities for students who may prefer an online format to a traditional classroom setting.

The CSU marked a significant educational milestone when it broadened its degree offerings to include doctoral degrees. The CSU independently offers Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Doctor of Audiology (AuD), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)  degree programs. Additionally, the CSU was recently authorized to offer the independent Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). A limited number of other doctoral degrees are offered jointly with the University of California and private institutions in California.

The CSU strives to continually develop innovative programs, services and opportunities that will give students the tools they need to meet their full potential. In 2015, the CSU launched Graduation Initiative 2025, a bold plan to support students, increase the number of California’s graduates earning high-quality degrees, and eliminate achievement and equity gaps for all students. Through this initiative, the CSU is ensuring that all students have the opportunity to graduate according to their personal goals, positively impacting their lives, families and communities. 

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 the globe. More than 4 million CSU alumni are making a difference in the lives of the people of California and the world.

The California State University System

California State University, Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Highway
Bakersfield, CA 93311-1022
Dr. Vernon B. Harper, Jr., Interim President
(661) 654-2782
CSU Bakersfield Website

California State University, Channel Islands
One University Drive
Camarillo, CA 93012
Dr. Richard Yao, President 
(805) 437-8400
CSU Channel Islands Website

California State University, Chico
400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929
Dr. Stephen Perez, President 
(530) 898-4636
Chico State Website

California State University, Dominguez Hills
1000 East Victoria Street
Carson, CA 90747
Dr. Thomas A. Parham, President
(310) 243-3696
CSU Dominguez Hills Website

California State University, East Bay
25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard
Hayward, CA 94542
Dr. Cathy A. Sandeen, President
(510) 885-3000
Cal State East Bay Website

California State University, Fresno
5241 North Maple Avenue
Fresno, CA 93740
Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, President
(559) 278-4240
CSU Fresno Website

California State University, Fullerton
800 N. State College Boulevard
Fullerton, CA 92831-3599
Dr. Sylvia A. Alva, Interim President
(657) 278-2011
Cal State Fullerton Website

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt
One Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521-8299
Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., President
(707) 826-3011
Cal Poly Humboldt Website

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

California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes, President
(323) 343-3000
Cal State Los Angeles Website

California Maritime Academy
200 Maritime Academy Drive
Vallejo, CA 94590
Navy Reserve Vice Admiral Michael J. Dumont, Interim President
(707) 654-1000
Cal State Maritime Website

California State University, Monterey Bay
100 Campus Center
Seaside, CA 93955-8001
Dr. Vanya Quiñones, President
(831) 582-3000
CSU Monterey Bay Website 

California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
Dr. Erika D. Beck, President
(818) 677-1200
CSUN Website

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

California State University, Sacramento
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819
Dr. Luke Wood, President
(916) 278-6011
Sacramento State Website

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

San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182
Dr. Adela de la Torre, President
(619) 594-5200
San Diego State Website

San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
Dr. Lynn Mahoney, President
(415) 338-1111
San Francisco State Website

San José State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0001
Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, President
(408) 924-1000
San José State University Website

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

California State University San Marcos
333 South Twin Oaks Valley Road
San Marcos, CA 92096-0001
Dr. Ellen J. Neufeldt, President
(760) 750-4000
CSU San Marcos Website

Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Dr. Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee, Interim President
(707) 664-2880
Sonoma State Website

California State University, Stanislaus
One University Circle
Turlock, CA 95382
Dr. Susan E. Borrego, Interim President
(209) 667-3122
Stanislaus State Website