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California State University San Marcos (2015)

Brief Description:

CSU San Marcos - Founding Celebrations

California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is celebrating its 25th anniversary throughout the year of 2015. Since its founding, CSUSM has distinguished itself as a forward-focused institution, dedicated to preparing future leaders, building great communities and solving critical issues. With nearly 13,000 enrolled students, it serves the regions of north San Diego, southwest Riverside and south Orange Counties. Students benefit from the latest facilities and equipment, a superb faculty that enjoys teaching, and a rigorous academic program that prepares students for a successful life in and out of the workplace.


Mission Statement:

CSU San Marcos - 25th logoCalifornia State University San Marcos focuses on the student as an active participant in the learning process. As a Carnegie classified "community engaged" university, CSUSM students work closely with a faculty whose commitment to sustained excellence in teaching, research and community partnership enhances student learning. The university offers rigorous undergraduate and graduate programs distinguished by exemplary teaching, innovative curricula, and the application of new technologies. CSUSM provides a range of services that respond to the needs of a student body with diverse backgrounds, expanding student access to an excellent and affordable education. As a public university, CSUSM grounds its mission in the public trust, alignment with regional needs, and sustained enrichment of the intellectual, civic, economic and cultural life of our region and state.

President's Quote:

"Twenty-five years ago, our founders set out on a mission to create a new kind of university—one uniquely poised to meet the demands of the 21st century. Today, through imagination, creative thinking, community partnerships and research, CSUSM is future-focused on real solutions to the challenges before us. As we continue to look to the future, we will drive forward as the place of community engagement and pride; the place committed to being an engine for regional prosperity; the place for academic excellence and research; and the place for welcoming and stimulating environments conducive to diversity, inclusion, and students’ life-long success." — President Karen Haynes

Major Accomplishments:

  • Home to a one-of-a-kind program that provides support to former foster youth pursuing their college degree, the new Jan and Esther Stearns Center for ACE Scholars officially opened its doors at a grand opening celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. The Stearns gifted $1 million to ACE Scholars Services–the largest donation in the program’s history–to establish the center, as well as an endowment that will provide ongoing support.
  • The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awarded CSUSM with the 2015 Community Engagement Classification, recognizing the institution’s commitment to engagement through teaching, research, service and partnerships. CSUSM first received this designation in 2006, when it was one of only 12 institutions in the state, and 76 nationwide, to be honored.
  • INSIGHT into Diversity Magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, recognized CSUSM with the 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • CSUSM is one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Survey results released in The Chronicle’s seventh annual report on “The Academic Workplace” indicated that Cal State San Marcos achieved “Great College to Work For®” recognition for specific best practices and policies.
  • CSUSM is a military friendly school—honored every year since 2010 by Military Times Edge and G.I. Jobs magazines—and selected for the last two years as a “Top School” by Military Advanced Education, thanks to the institution’s welcoming culture, leadership, resources and practices.


Fun Facts:

  • CSUSM was founded in 1989 and opened doors to students in 1990. 
  • The university was built on the site of the former Prohoroff Poultry Farm. Today, the campus is 304-acres and includes over a million square feet of facilities, including the recently completed four-story University Student Union, the Student Health and Counseling Services Building, and the Veterans Center.
  • The first university mascot was the Tukwut, the Luiseño name for mountain lion. The Luiseño Indians are the indigenous people of the land where the campus is located. Although the mascot was later changed to a cougar, the Tukwut stands as a symbol of what our students will become: fearless, innovative leaders that serve their communities.
  • In 2014, Dr. Karen Haynes celebrated 10 years of presidency at CSUSM, making her the longest-standing president in campus history. Under her leadership, the number of buildings on campus have doubled, as well as the number of students, number of athletics teams, and the number of academic programs.
  • CSUSM’s athletics program is currently in the midst of a three-year transition to the NCAA Division II from the NAIA. The move enables CSUSM to join the prestigious California Collegiate Athletic Association. In 2016, the campus looks forward to opening a 1,400-seat sports center.
  • In addition to 19 Bachelor of Arts and 18 Bachelor of Science degrees, CSUSM offers 13 master’s programs, eight credential programs, and a joint doctoral program with UC San Diego.
  • Fifty-two percent of the 2014 graduating class was first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
  • CSUSM has established 14 guaranteed admission programs with regional school districts and organizational partners, providing increased college preparation and ongoing academic support to qualified graduating high school students.
  • CSUSM has more former foster youth enrolled per capita than any other institution in the U.S. with an 88 percent retention rate, nearly 45 percent higher than the national average.
  • CSUSM is ranked among the top 20 universities in the nation for veterans by Military Times, and is currently the second-highest rated university in California. In fact, one in 10 CSUSM students is a veteran, service member or dependent.
  • For the last nine consecutive years, CSUSM has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with nearly 4,000 students giving over 255,000 hours of community service in the 2013-14 academic year.
  • In 2012, The CSU Institute for Palliative Care, America’s first statewide educational and workforce development initiative dedicated to palliative care, launched at CSUSM. The model has now expanded to six other California State University campuses across the state.


Notable Alumni:

  • Sean Callahan, entrepreneur and tech startup CEO
  • Erik Groset, president and co-founder of Zipbuds, LLC.
  • Vanessa Herrera, reporter at NBC 7 San Diego
  • Kevin Holt, San Marcos Unified School District Superintendent
  • Lori Holt-Pfeiler, executive director at San Diego Habitat for Humanity and former mayor of the City of Escondido
  • Major Jim Mullen, Marine Corps “Marine One” helicopter pilot
  • Chris Placencia, serial entrepreneur named to San Diego Metro’s “40 Under 40” awards list.
  • Josh Sandoval, television producer, writer and news journalist



"The education I received here was a window on the world for me. And it prepared me well for my career in public service. This university teaches you to think, and in a world with no shortage of challenges, that is what we need. It supplies the knowledge, skills and perspectives needed to creatively address issues, develop solutions, and seize opportunities in a rapidly changing world.” – Lori Holt-Pfeiler

“CSUSM enables students to create their own opportunities.” – Josh Sandoval

“At CSUSM the professors don’t just lecture. You get to develop relationships with them.” – Chris Placencia

“I am proud to call CSUSM my alma mater. The professors genuinely care about their students, and as a Marine, I greatly appreciated their support and mentorship—it made all the difference.” – Major Jim Mullen


  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662