In the 20 years since Cal State San Marcos was founded, many faculty, staff, and administrators have played a role in shaping the University and nurturing its growth. However, few people have influenced CSUSM in such a way as K. Brooks Reid and Patricia Worden have. Not only have they served CSUSM continuously for 20 years, but they also have the distinction of being two of the University’s original founding faculty members.  Reid and Worden recently reflected on their time at CSUSM, and the unique and rewarding experience of helping to build a new university from the ground up.

The Intrigue of CSUSM

While their paths to CSUSM were separate and unique, Reid and Worden were attracted by the same thing — the intrigue of helping to build and establish a new university. Both replied to a national recruitment process that attracted nearly 1,300 applicants and sought to hire the University’s first 12 faculty members.

For Dr. Worden, the path was perhaps a bit easier because of her proximity to the future campus. “I had been living in North San Diego County for quite awhile, but I commuted to Cal State Fullerton where I served as the chair of the Psychology department,” explained Worden, who applied for CSUSM’s social science opening. “Applying at CSUSM just sounded so interesting, but I had no idea how interesting it would turn out to be.”

At the time of the spring 1989 recruitment process, Dr. Reid was the mathematics chair at Louisiana State University. “I was looking around a bit, and one of the things I pursued was an advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education that touted the building of the first new public university in the United States in 20 years. It sounded like an interesting opportunity, so I submitted my resume for the mathematics position. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have come to a Cal State school otherwise, but to come and help start one was really intriguing.”

By summer of 1989, President Bill Stacy had been selected as CSUSM’s first president, and both Reid and Worden had become finalists in their respective applicant pools. In the end, they were both hired, and they joined Stacy, Executive Vice President Richard Rush, and ten other founding faculty in laying the groundwork for Cal State San Marcos.

A Challenging First Year

Once the hiring process was complete, a press conference was held with then-Governor George Deukmejian and other dignitaries in attendance. Worden recalls this being a major event that drew a great deal of attention from the media. “There was a lot of interest in this experiment that we were launching, and we primarily got the questions ‘what are you going to do, and what are you going to do that is different?’ We couldn’t answer those questions at that time because we hadn’t even gotten to know each other yet.”

And so began the often challenging first year of CSUSM’s existence. The first year was one without students as the founding faculty were tasked with planning and laying the foundation for CSUSM’s academic programs and administrative policies. One of their first tasks was to decide what degrees CSUSM would offer, and what faculty would be needed to teach those degrees. This process quickly led to the hiring of 20 more faculty and several initial administrators, and the original founders were responsible for candidate recruitment, review, and selection.

But hiring additional faculty was only one of many responsibilities. As the year went on, other critical needs arose, which included crafting mission and vision statements, writing policies, creating and adopting curriculum, and beginning the accreditation process. Reid recalls that this process was very challenging because of the diverse backgrounds of the respective founders. “Some of the founding faculty came from other CSU campuses, while others came from elsewhere and wanted to create a more independent and unique kind of institution. However, at the beginning, we all had to come to reality and appreciate the context of what we were doing. The reality is that we are part of the CSU system, we weren’t to become a Midwestern liberal arts school, we weren’t to duplicate UCSD, and we lived in the shadow of San Diego State. As a result, there was a lot of melding of ideas in the early days, and we knew that CSUSM would evolve into something different over time as it grew. It was an intense process.”

Worden concurred. “Throughout the process, I thought to myself ‘I must be crazy.’ I think we all felt that way because there was nothing here. There was no manual on how to start a university, so we would come in each day and really roll up our sleeves to get things done.”

Indeed, the founders did get things done. As a result of their work, CSUSM opened its doors to students on schedule in fall of 1990 at its original storefront location on Los Vallecitos Boulevard in San Marcos. The first class was largely made up of juniors and seniors who had attended the old SDSU North County satellite, and Dr. Worden recalls that “they were thrilled to death to be able to finish their college degrees in North County.”

Next Steps and Accomplishments

As CSUSM grew rapidly and moved to its current-day permanent location, Worden and Reid grew with it and contributed much to the University through the years.

After creating the psychology department and its curriculum, Dr. Worden was promoted to the Associate Dean position in the College of Arts and Sciences — a post she held for ten years. Next, she served a one-year stint as the interim vice president for academic affairs, followed by a four years as the founding dean of graduate studies and the associate vice president for research. Because CSUSM had very few graduate-level degrees and research programs up to that point, Worden was instrumental in writing many of the policies and procedures that are now the foundation of CSUSM’s Office of Graduate Studies and Research, and she cites it as one of the proudest accomplishments of her CSUSM tenure. In 2005, Worden was asked by President Haynes to serve as the vice president for Student Affairs — a position she has held ever since. She cites the formation of the Veterans Center as one of the biggest accomplishments of her time in Student Affairs.

Dr. Reid was one of two founding faculty to be hired in the area of mathematics, and this two-founder advantage allowed him to write and create the academic aspects of the math curriculum, while the other math founder worked on the administrative aspects of the department. This efficiency ultimately led them to establish the Master of Science in Mathematics Program — the very first graduate-level degree offered by CSUSM. Dr. Reid also created the Undergraduate Honors Program, acting as director during its early years. In addition, he was the recipient of a major research grant from the Office of Naval Research that he worked on throughout the 1990s.

The Uniqueness of CSUSM

It’s often said that Cal State San Marcos is “a different kind of CSU” with unique characteristics and advantages. Dr. Worden believes that one of CSUSM’s greatest advantages is its people. “One of the things that strikes me about CSUSM is how attached people are to this place. People study here, they work here, and they stay here. Some of that comes from the ‘pioneer days’ and being crazy enough to come to a place that isn’t done yet. That continues today as this is an institution full of creativity and a pioneering spirit. The people have been my main source of pleasure and pride in working here.”

In Dr. Reid’s view, CSUSM’s advantage comes from both small class sizes and the makeup of CSUSM’s faculty. “It’s always been kind of like a private school in that we’ve had smaller class sizes and new facilities. Another advantage is that we have attracted faculty who are scholars and good teachers. As founders, that was our general consensus. We didn’t simply want a teaching school; instead, we wanted people who were active in their field and could inform their teaching through their scholarly and professional activities outside of teaching.”

All Good Things…

While Dr. Reid continues to teach mathematics at CSUSM in the Faculty Early Retirement Program, Dr. Worden has made the decision to retire at the end of the 2009–2010 school year. The decision is bittersweet for Worden. “I’ll miss the excitement and challenge of the fact that the University still isn’t finished. It’s neat to work in the middle of a dream. I’ve had about as much fun as you possibly could during my time here.” However, Worden is looking forward to the fact that she can “do less,” which will allow her more time for hobbies, outdoor activities, and spending time with her grandkids.

Meanwhile, Dr. Reid will continue to balance his professional service at CSUSM with a variety of personal interests. An avid runner, Reid has participated in eight full marathons and 20 half marathons, and he has a growing interest in road biking. He also describes himself as being “formerly obsessed with competitive tournament tennis,” and was a ranked singles tennis player in both Louisiana and California.

K. Brooks Reid and Patricia Worden are two shining examples of all that is good about Cal State San Marcos. Both have left an indelible mark on CSUSM, and their contributions will continue to influence the lives of countless students for decades to come.

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Quotable:

“It’s neat to work in the middle of a dream. I’ve had about as much fun as you possibly could during my time here.”
–Patricia Worden

“I was looking around a bit, and one of the things I pursued was an advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education that touted the building of the first new public university in the United States in 20 years. It sounded like an interesting opportunity, so I submitted my resume for the mathematics position.”
–K. Brooks Reid

“…this is an institution full of creativity and a pioneering spirit. The people have been my main source of pleasure and pride in working here.”
–Patricia Worden