Apr 01, 2023  
2022-2023 Catalog 
2022-2023 Catalog

About the University

History of Cal State San Marcos

California State University, San Marcos, the 20th campus of the California State University, was founded on September 1, 1989.

The University had evolved from the North County Center of San Diego State University, which was located in leased premises on Los Vallecitos Boulevard in San Marcos. During 1989-90, twelve founding faculty joined President Bill W. Stacy in defining the university mission, academic plan and institutional plan.

To promote favorable city/campus relationships on planning and zoning issues, the City of San Marcos formed a Technical Advisory Committee between city and CSU officials aimed at formulating harmonious land use and circulation proposals for the 1,800 acres of privately owned property immediately surrounding the campus site. This cooperative effort culminated with the city adopting the “Heart of the City” General Plan Amendment and related zoning ordinance amendments to carry forward the committee’s work into public policy.

Groundbreaking for the permanent campus, located on the former Prohoroff Ranch in the City of San Marcos, occurred on February 23, 1990. The initial construction of the 304-acre site provided six buildings and appropriate roads, streets, utilities, and landscaping.

In Fall 1990, 600 “first” students arrived to become engaged in the university’s teaching and learning processes, and 18 additional faculty were recruited to meet the academic responsibilities of the growing campus. The University conducted its first commencement on May 23, 1992, with the graduation of 107 baccalaureate candidates and recognition of 75 students having completed the postbaccalaureate Teacher Credential Program. In Spring 1993, the campus received full accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

A major infrastructure project completed in 1996 supported additional buildings planned to accommodate expected growth. University Hall, a classroom/office building, was completed in 1998. Two additional buildings, Science Hall II and the Arts Building, opened in 2002.

The Clarke Field House/University Student Union and University Village Apartments both opened in Fall 2003. The 200,000-square-foot Kellogg Library opened in January 2004 with space for 840,000 volumes and seating for more than 1,600 students. The 80,000-square-foot Markstein Hall, home to the College of Business Administration, opened in January 2006. 

In August 2007, the Center for Children and Families opened its doors to the children of students, faculty, staff, and community members. This facility not only provides childcare services but also educational opportunities for the School of Education and psychology programs.

The McMahan House, built in 2009, became the first conferencing center on campus, consisting of four structures: the main structure that includes a great room for meeting and dining; a commercial kitchen, foyer and support areas; and three other conference rooms. It also has a large covered patio for outdoor events.

The Social and Behavioral Sciences Building officially opened its doors to students for the Fall 2011 semester. This academic building added lecture and lab space as well as 125 faculty offices. Additionally, the Public Safety Building, completed in Spring 2011, provided space for the University Police and Parking and Commuter Services departments on the edge of campus near the Sprinter train station.

The University Student Union, the heartbeat of the campus and a hub of student activity, opened its doors on January 21, 2014.  The USU includes a 9,000-square-foot ballroom–the largest venue on campus. Spaces for dining, activity rooms, a coffee shop, a convenience store and student service department offices were also included.  

With the opening of its new building in January 2015, Student Health and Counseling Services was able to move back to campus after being located off-campus for more than 15 years. The two-story building includes examination rooms, medical offices, counseling spaces and a wellness and health program space.

The Sports Center, home to CSUSM men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams, celebrated its grand opening on September 1, 2016. The 25,000-square-foot building includes seating for 1,400 for games.

Construction was completed in late summer 2019 on the new Extended Learning building. Part of a public-private partnership – the first of its kind in the state’s history – the project includes a 135,000-square-foot, six-story building, an accompanying 709-space parking garage, and a pedestrian bridge over Barham Drive. The project was completed in time for the Fall 2019 semester.

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 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 mascot of our campus.

The California State University

Welcome to the California State University (CSU) – the nation’s largest comprehensive university system with 23 unique campuses serving and seven off-campus centers serving approximately 477,000 students and employing more than 56,000 faculty and staff.

Each year, the CSU awards more than 133,000 degrees. CSU graduates are serving as leaders in the industries that drive California’s economy, including business, agriculture, entertainment, engineering, teaching, hospitality and healthcare. 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 more than 3.9 million living alumni throughout 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.


  • Today, one of every 20 Americans with a college degree is a CSU graduate.
  • 1 of every 10 employees in California is a CSU graduate.
  • The CSU awards about half of the bachelor’s degrees earned in California.
  • The CSU awards 36% of California’s undergraduate nursing degrees.
  • The CSU prepares more of California’s teachers, pre-school through grade 12, than any other institution. Nearly four percent of the nation’s teachers graduate from the CSU.
  • In 2020, CSU students earned nearly 25,000 business degrees and more than 9,000 engineering degrees.
  • ​The CSU offers more than 170 fully online and 140 hybrid degree programs and concentrations.
  • The CSU’s online concurrent enrollment program gives students the ability to enroll in courses offered by other campuses in the CSU.
  • Over a recent four-year period, 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.
  • CSU Centers for Community Engagement and Service Learning make available nearly 2,300 service-learning courses.
  • 38,000 CSU students participated in service learning, contributing 728,000 hours of service in 2020-2021.


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 campus presidents serve as the campus-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 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. Today, the CSU comprises 23 campuses, including comprehensive and polytechnic universities and, since July 1995, the California State University 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. And in 2022, the Humboldt campus became Cal Poly Humboldt, joining San Luis Obispo and Pomona as that 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 campus 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.

Always adapting to changes in technology and societal trends to support student learning and degree completion, the CSU launched CSU Fully Online, which enables CSU students to complete online courses at other CSU campuses, 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) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs. Additionally, the CSU was recently authorized to offer the independent Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD). 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 2016, 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 that is so extensive and renowned that it spans the globe. With the graduation of the Class of 2021, more than 4 million CSU alumni are making a difference in the lives of the people of California and the world.

Campuses of the California State University

California State University, Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Highway
Bakersfield, CA 93311-1022
Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, President
(661) 654-2782
CSU Bakersfield Website

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

California State University, Chico
400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929
Dr. Gayle E. Hutchinson, 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 Jimémez-Sandoval, Interim President
(559) 278-4240
CSU Fresno Website

California State University, Fullerton
800 N. State College Boulevard
Fullerton, CA 92831-3599
Mr. Framroze Virjee, 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. William A. Covino, President
(323) 343-3000
Cal State Los Angeles Website

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

California State University, Monterey Bay
100 Campus Center
Seaside, CA 93955-8001
Dr. Eduardo M. Ochoa, 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. Robert S. Nelsen, 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. Stephen Perez, 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. Judy K. Sakaki, President
(707) 664-2880
Sonoma State Website

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