Looking back on an Otter year of CSUMB success

Monte with students

This year's Admitted Otter Days -- the first time separate days were held for first-year and transfer students -- drew record attendance. | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

May 24, 2024

It’s been a banner year for Cal State Monterey Bay in many ways. From attracting multi-million dollar grants to appearing on national rankings to launching a new brand, 2023-24 was a busy academic year for the Otters. It was all capped off with a unified commencement on Saturday, March 18, with close to 2,000 graduates celebrating at the Salinas Sports Complex rodeo arena.

Here is a recap of some of the year’s highlights:

Top rankings

CSUMB punched above its weight in a number of rankings this year, outranking much larger and more prestigious universities. U.S. News & World Report placed the school No. 2 in social mobility among schools in the Western Region. The school was also ranked No. 6 among public schools and No. 14 among all colleges and universities in the Western Region. And in October, the Wall Street Journal placed CSUMB seventh among mid-sized universities in the West.

Raft Weekend and Monte’s 5K

The annual Raft Weekend open house event drew record crowds in October for MB Madness carnival games and activities, campus tours and the inaugural Monte’s 5K run/walk. About 400 people participated in the 5K, winding through a course that took them from one end of the campus to the other. It offered the community a chance to connect with the campus through various activities, including a bicycle tour and a volleyball game.

Pebble Beach Scholars Program

In a first for CSUMB, the university announced a cooperative scholars program with Pebble Beach Company in January. With a substantial $1.4 million investment, the program offers students up to $5,000 annually, coupled with valuable internships at the renowned Pebble Beach, shaping educational and professional pathways. The program arose out of a longstanding relationship between Pebble Beach Company and CSUMB’s Sustainable Hospitality Management Program. 

Large grants

Several major grants were awarded to CSUMB programs in October. The USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities awarded $5 million to College of Science researchers to study off-gassing in local agricultural fields. The Department of Applied Environmental Science received a $1.13 million award from the U.S. Geological Survey to provide continued scientific leadership and software engineering in support of OpenET, a data service that provides satellite-based information on evapotranspiration. And the James Irvine Foundation gave $1.9 million to a collaborative program between Monterey Bay Drone, Automation and Robotics Technology and CSUMB to create quality jobs and economic mobility throughout California. 

Admitted Otter Day sets records

In a first-ever dual event, an Admitted Otter Day for prospective first-year students was held April 6. Three weeks later, admitted transfer students were welcomed to the campus for a day of tours and activities specifically geared to them. In all, the two events drew more than 7,000 students and their family members, far exceeding attendance from previous years. 

Sports teams shine

Four Otter sports teams made it to the NCAA Championships this year. In November, the men’s soccer team advanced to the Division II playoffs for the first time in the team’s history. And in May, women's golfmen’s golf and baseball punched their ticket to the NCAA postseason. With the exception of the COVID-19 pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, the baseball team has made it to the NCAA playoffs every year since 2017; they have won the CCAA championship for the third straight year, and the CCAA tournament for the second year in a row. Men's golf won the CCAA Championship for the fifth time in school history. This was the eighth year the men's golf team had qualified for the NCAA national finals. Out of the 20 teams competing, the Otters placed 14th.