CSUN President Jolene President to step down

Koester announced on Monday she is retiring after almost 11 years at CSUN. sundial file photo

Dr. Jolene Koester announced her retirement as president of CSUN.

In an email to the CSUN community, Koester said she is stepping down and retiring December 2011.

In her message, she highlighted some of the university’s achievements in her more than 10 years as president.

“Our graduation rates have improved and we are now a beautiful and distinctive campus with improved business processes,” Koester said.

Koester also noted the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC) as a major milestone in CSUN’s history.

“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,” Koester said.

Koester also had a message for CSUN students.

“As for our students, they have been the primary rationale for my efforts, because they represent our collective future,” Koester said. “I know they will continue to be well served by the University, especially through its focus on student learning.”

She said it has been her honor and privelge to serve the university.

“On a very personal note, being president of California State University, Northridge has been a most exhilarating and satisfying professional responsibility,” Koester said. “It has been my honor and privilege to serve the University and the region.”

Koester also discussed the plans for choosing the next president of CSUN.

“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,” Koester said.

She added that in her last months at CSUN she will continue to “manage the current budget challenges” as well as additional duties on campus.

“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,” Koester said.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Harry Hellenbrand commended his colleague for her work.

“It’s a big loss to us all- personally and collectively,” Hellenbrand said.

Hellenbrand said Koester’s “legacy” would be the philosophy she established on campus.

“It will carry us through,” Hellenbrand said.

Hellenbrand said some aspects of her legacy include the new Valley Performing Arts Center as well as the processes through which 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.

Robert Bucker, dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication, said he heard the news of Koester’s departure at the same time as the rest of the community.

“She’s the reason I came here,” Bucker said. “This is my fourth year and I came here very much to work with Jolene and Harry Hellenbrand.”

Bucker said Koester would leave behind a “fantastic” legacy.

“This is one of the 50 largest public universities and enrollment has increased 18 percent in her tenure,” Bucker said.

He added that since Koester began her work at CSUN the campus has become widely recognized.

“I learned about the university because of national recognition,” Bucker said. “The VPAC has really placed the university at a very, very different position in terms of outreach in the community.”

Bucker said this recognition is the result of Koester being “very visible and important community leader in the San Fernando Valley.”

Vice President of Finance and Chief Information Officer Tom McCarron said he has worked with Koester for the past 11 years and has “never known a more effective and inspiring leader.”

McCarron said in an email interview, there are many parts to the university that have improved in her career at CSUN.

“One tangible example is the physical improvement to the institution since 2000 due largely to her focus on garnering support from the state and federal sources and creating a vision that has been embraced by donors,” McCarron said.

A.S. President Conor Lansdale has worked with Koester for more than 2 years.

“President Koester and I have a fond relationship going back to when I was an outspoken senator,” Lansdale said.

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 added it was nice to see her enjoy herself at the VPAC opening gala because it was a tribute to her hard work and leadership.