CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White to Retire in 2020

October 22, 2019

Under White’s tenure CSU expanded student access and success with enrollment and graduation rates reaching all-time highs.

October 22, 2019 – California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy P. White today announced his plan to retire in 2020. White has served as CSU Chancellor since 2012 and led the university’s restoration and resurgence from Great Recession-era cuts to achieve unprecedented heights for student enrollment and graduation.

The CSU Board of Trustees will begin a search for White’s replacement immediately, with the goal of appointing the next chancellor by the end of the current academic year.


“The CSU is deeply woven into the fabric of California, having created opportunities for so many people who now play critical roles in our economic, social and political life,” said White. “It has been my great honor to work with our state’s elected leaders, our Board of Trustees and our campus, faculty, staff and student leaders to reinvest in our university to expand access and improve academic outcomes for the future.”

When White was appointed, state support in the CSU had declined by nearly $1 billion. Since that time, the university’s general fund allocation has increased from $2.3 billion to $3.6 billion, and White has been instrumental in sharing the CSU story throughout the halls of the state capitol to reinforce the transformative and life-changing opportunities afforded through public higher education. Student enrollment has increased from 436,000 to more than 480,000 students. The CSU now confers more than 125,000 degrees each year, and graduation rates for both first-time and transfer students are at all-time highs.

“Chancellor White has helped guide the CSU through a period of restoration and ensured that the state’s renewed investment in the university is repaid by creating opportunity for more students and preparing more graduates for California’s workforce to help power our economy,” said Adam Day, chairman of the CSU Board of Trustees. “The board is grateful for his service and looks forward to working closely with Chancellor White in this final year to continue our current achievements and build for the future.”

A university-wide focus on improving student achievement has been a hallmark of White’s tenure. In 2016, the CSU launched an ambitious initiative to increase graduation rates for all students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. To accomplish this, the university has addressed several areas including academic preparation, enrollment management, student engagement and well-being and financial aid and is increasing the use of data to inform decision-making while steadfastly removing administrative barriers. Just three years into Graduation Initiative 2025, systemwide graduation and retention rates have reached all-time highs and project continued growth.

White has also championed diversity in all areas of the university. In an effort to better serve the most diverse group of students in the nation, White has led a remarkable change in university leadership. He has led searches for 21 campus presidents, with women earning 12 of those appointments. Of the CSU’s current campus presidents, more than half are women compared to just one-third of college and university presidents across the country. The group of campus presidents is also ethnically diverse, with African American, Asian and Latinx campus leaders. Through White’s commitment to Inclusive Excellence, all 23 campuses are working vigorously to create a welcoming environment where all members of the CSU’s diverse campus communities can succeed in their pursuit of higher education.

In 2015, White commissioned a study of student food and housing insecurity, the first such study undertaken at any university. The quantification of the depth and breadth of these issues that impede student progress has now led to campus programs and state funding to help alleviate these concerns.

Mindful of the university’s role in stewarding the state’s limited financial resources, White has also led the university’s efforts to maintain the planet’s finite natural resources by spearheading a 23-campus commitment to sustainability. Under a university-wide sustainability policy, the CSU has integrated sustainability in all facets of the university including academics, facilities construction and operation and student life. Despite ambitious goals, by 2017 the CSU had already exceeded 2020 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A native of Argentina who immigrated with his family to the United States at the age of eight, White has been a leading proponent for the federal government to take action to find a permanent solution for DACA students and employees.

The embodiment of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, White attended Diablo Valley Community College, earned a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, a master’s degree from Cal State East Bay (then Cal State Hayward) and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. He has strived to unite all three of California’s higher education systems by expanding collaborative efforts with the University of California and the California Community Colleges and fostering stronger partnerships with those segment’s respective leaders.

CSU Board Chairman Day also announced today that a special committee of trustees will be appointed to lead the process to identify the next CSU chancellor. The Trustees’ Committee for the Selection of the Chancellor will begin by conducting a listening tour in November and December, including forums across the state. An Advisory Committee, including leadership from the statewide academic senate, California State Student Association, alumni council, campus presidents and staff, will also be appointed to serve in concert with the Trustees’ Committee. The listening tour will inform the qualities and experiences that the CSU’s stakeholders seek in the next chancellor, which the committees will use to develop a profile to help guide its recruitment.

White will continue in his role as chancellor through June 30, 2020, or soon thereafter, depending on the timing of the search process and availability of the successful candidate to begin.