CSUN President Jolene Koester will retire by the end of Fall 2011.
Koester sent out an email earlier today announcing her plan to faculty and students.
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Harry Hellenbrand who has worked with Koester said she will be missed.
“It’s a big loss to us all – personally and collectively,” Hellenbrand said.
He said Koester’s “legacy” would be the philosophy she has established on campus.
“It will carry us through,” Hellenbrand said.
He added that some aspects of her legacy include the new Valley Performing Arts Center along with the positive way of how the campus communicates.
“Its really the spirit of collaboration and transparency and openness that has really made (CSUN) a model campus in many respects,” Hellenbrand said.
A.S. President Conor Lansdale, who has worked with Koester since he was a senator, has worked with her more than 2 years.
“President Koester and I have a fond relationship going back to when I was an outspoken senator,” Lansdale said. “I was a bulldog then, speaking up to get my opinion heard.”
Lansdale said working with Koester has helped him learn to be a better communicator. He added that she is probably the only person he knows that has worked in the field she majored in, communication, and this has also helped CSUN.
“I’m still outspoken, but I’m more tactful,” he said. “Or at least I’d like to think I am. She helped me learn to talk to people without jumping to conclusions.”
Lansdale said she is a “personable person” and has made herself available to senators. Her greatest accomplishment was realizing her goal of opening a performing arts center on campus, he said.
“It was nice to see her enjoy herself at the VPAC opening,” Lansdale said. “It was a tribute to her hard work and leadership.”
In her email to the CSUN community, Koester said:
To the Campus Community:
I am writing to inform you that I have told Chancellor Reed of my plans to step down as president of California State University, Northridge by the end of December 2011 and subsequently retire from the California State University.
I became president almost 11 years ago with a clear set of priorities that would allow our University to build on its impressive faculty and academic excellence. We have achieved much in the past decade. Our graduation rates have improved and we are now a beautiful and distinctive campus with improved business processes. We have had notable fundraising successes. The University community now understands and has pride about its excellence. The University’s reputation and stature in the greater Los Angeles community have been greatly enhanced. The opening of the Valley Performing Arts Center in January is emblematic of these accomplishments. In just a few months, this wonderful new venue has allowed Cal State Northridge to be seen symbolically and physically as the commons for this part of Los Angeles. We have weathered difficult budget circumstances by our intentional and consultative planning. We have modeled transparency in our governance of the University and collaboration has been the value that has driven how we work together. And, most importantly, we have made decisions to sustain the excellence of our faculty and our academic programs.
The University is now at another important juncture in its maturation as a powerful force in Southern California. With this in mind, I feel that it is an opportune time for me to step aside and hand over the leadership of this wonderful institution to its next president, who will build on what has been accomplished by the leadership team that has worked with me.
My plans include some rest and rejuvenation, along with the pursuit of research around the role of communication as contributing to the successes and dealing with the challenges that university presidents and chancellors now face. While I will be stepping down from a university presidency, I look forward to remaining engaged and contributing to the important work of public higher education.
On a very personal note, being president of California State University, Northridge has been a most exhilarating and satisfying professional responsibility. It has been my honor and privilege to serve the University and the region. My time here has involved a personal engagement with an institution whose mission I deeply care about and whose faculty and staff have daily inspired me. During the last decade key volunteers have helped in the achievement of the University’s excellence and I am grateful for their support of this wonderful institution and of me with their intelligence, energy, and philanthropy. I also want to thank those who have supported and served with me in advancing the University’s mission, particularly the senior leadership team. Their commitment to the institution and to the spirit of collaboration has made my work here productive and fulfilling.
Working with Chancellor Charles B. Reed and the CSU Board of Trustees, who have provided excellent guidance and direction within a difficult political and fiscal environment, has given me the opportunity to serve with the very best leadership of public higher education in this country. I am indebted to all for allowing me to contribute to this academic institution’s incredible legacy.
As for our students, they have been the primary rationale for my efforts, because they represent our collective future. I know they will continue to be well served by the University, especially through its focus on student learning.
In the remaining months of my service here at California State University, Northridge, I pledge to stay focused on the University and its planning priorities with as much energy and enthusiasm as I have brought to the role during the past almost 11 years. In addition, I will continue to manage the current budget challenges to the best of my ability in order to position the University well for the work that will need to be undertaken with the guidance of a new president.
Chancellor Reed will shortly announce the next steps in selecting my successor, following the procedures and policies that have been established for the selection of CSU presidents by the Board of Trustees. Please be assured that as details of the search and transition period are decided, this information will be communicated to the campus community.
In the remaining months of the calendar year, I look forward to the opportunity to thank you personally for your support and your continued dedication and hard work on behalf of Cal State Northridge. While I recognize such transitions can be a source of worry and concern, they also are a time for reflection and opportunity. Because of my positive experiences here, I have the utmost confidence in the strength of the Cal State Northridge community and know that a bright future lies ahead for the University as its reputation and excellence continues to grow and flourish.
President, California State University, Northridge