MARCH 13, 2003
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu


Tomas A. Arciniega, the third president of California State University, Bakersfield, announced today that he will retire from the position he has held for 20 years.

Arciniega, 65, who took the helm of the then-13-year-old campus in July 1983, will pass the reins to a successor on July 1, 2004. When he retires, Arciniega will have served as president of CSUB for 21 years, one of the longest tenures in the CSU system.

"When I arrived on this campus 20 years ago it was a very different place than what it is today," Arciniega said, reflecting on his presidency. "We had less than half the students we have now, a quarter of the budget, a fraction of the employees. So much has happened since then. It's amazing to look back and see how far we've come."

"Tomas Arciniega has done a splendid job leading the Bakersfield campus for the past 20 years," CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said. "Under his direction we have seen the campus mature into a comprehensive regional university and become a tremendous resource to the residents of the southern San Joaquin Valley and Central California. I know that I speak for the trustees when I say that we truly appreciate the tremendous job Tomas has done not only for the people of Bakersfield, but also for the CSU and the state of California."

James George, CSUB provost and vice president of academic affairs, echoed Reed. "It has been my pleasure to work with Tomas for the past 20 years. He has worked diligently to expand the reach of the university to make a university education a reality for literally thousands of people to whom a college degree would have been inconceivable a generation ago. What he's done is nothing short of amazing. He has truly changed the face of Bakersfield and the southern San Joaquin Valley."

During his tenure at CSUB, Arciniega:

  • Redefined the mission of CSUB to make it a comprehensive regional university that is committed to developing academic and professional programs that serve the educational and socioeconomic needs of the region, and is committed to promoting access to the large population of low-income students from Kern County and the central valley who are first in their families to attend college.
  • Provided strong backing and support for establishing new professional degree programs and a liberal arts curriculum based on academic excellence that has enabled CSUB to attract the highest quality faculty.
  • Helped CSUB achieve university status in 1987.
  • Worked to build enrollment that has more than doubled during his tenure to more than 7,600 this year.
  • Achieved WASC accreditation for the university and program accreditation in teacher education, business administration, financial planning and public administration.
  • Made a strong commitment to supporting the university's performing and fine arts programs in a conscious effort to enrich the cultural life of the community.
  • Made CSUB a center for a multitude of community events, including the Bakersfield Business Conference, which highlights the community nationally and internationally.
  • Moved CSUB into key partnerships with local public schools and made quality teacher preparation a top priority on the campus.
  • Made CSUB a key partner in the Bakersfield Vision 2020 plan, ensuring a role for the university in the educational and socioeconomic development of the region.
  • Worked to change the expectations of low-income and under-represented minority students to continue on to college from high school, and to promote access to a university education in a region plagued by a low college-attendance rate.
  • Launched a University Advancement Office to seek private funding to support strategic CSUB initiatives, which resulted in the Cornerstone Campaign, which raised more than $13 million for the university, the largest fundraising effort in Kern County history.
  • Ensured that CSUB initiated the Valley Fever vaccine research project, which focuses research and public policy attention on finding a cure for this critical regional health problem.
  • Committed to expand the university's physical plant including construction of the five-story Walter Stiern Library, the nearly 4,000-seat Icardo Activity Center, the Student Union, the recently completed five-building Business Development Center complex, which included fundraising for the new Dezember Leadership Development Center built entirely with private funds raised locally.
  • Worked to expand CSUB's reach through a satellite campus in the Antelope Valley and through regional programs in CSUB's service region.
  • Supported the development of comprehensive student activities that enrich campus life through social, cultural and educational events.
  • Encouraged the expansion of community internships and other strategies to help CSUB students to learn through opportunities with local businesses and non-profit agencies.
  • Encouraged the development of nationally recognized athletic programs, which provide the campus and the community with national exposure.

    Arciniega was born in El Paso, Texas, and attended public schools there. He attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces on a football scholarship, earning his bachelor of science degree in teacher education. After a brief stint as a professional baseball player in the minor leagues, he attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where he earned his master's degree and doctorate in educational administration.

    He began his teaching career in Albuquerque, then after a year served his two-year military service as an officer in the U.S. Army, then returned to teaching. It was following his return from military service that he completed his graduate degrees.

    He served in the U.S. Foreign Service as a human resources advisor in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1968. Then, as a UNM faculty member, he was appointed chief of party of a technical assistance project in Colombia through 1970.

    He returned to his native El Paso where he was a professor of educational administration at the University of Texas, El Paso from 1971 through 1973. In 1973 he was named dean of education at San Diego State University, and served in that post until 1980. He then served as provost at California State University, Fresno from 1980 to 1983; in 1983 he was named president of CSUB.

    Officials at the CSU Chancellor's Office in Long Beach said a decision on the timing of a search for a successor has not yet been made.

    But in the meantime, Arciniega said he's looking forward to a "year that offers many challenges." In addition to voicing his appreciation for the support he and his wife, Connie, have received from the greater Bakersfield community during his tenure, he said, "I continue to be enthusiastic about the quality of the university and especially the caliber of education that students receive at CSUB. Although the university faces significant challenges in the coming year, I remain confident and optimistic about CSUB and its future, and the important role that Cal State University, Bakersfield plays in this community."