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Past Presidents

Bill W. Stacy

Term of office: 1989-1997
Bill W. Stacy was the founding president of Cal State San Marcos. When named to the post in September 1989, he was tasked with presiding over the building of the nation’s first state university in more than two decades.

Stacy was responsible for the construction of the university’s physical plant, building a curriculum, assembling a faculty, and recruiting a student body. He started with a dozen faculty members and nine majors. CSUSM opened in August 1990 in rented office space with 448 juniors and seniors, and didn’t move to its current location for another two years.

By the time Stacy left in 1997, the university had a student body of almost 4,500 and offered 19 bachelor’s degrees, 15 teacher credentials and eight master’s degrees.

He departed to become the chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he served until 2004. After that, he was the headmaster of the Baylor School, a prep school in Chattanooga, until 2009.

Before coming to CSUSM, Stacy was president of his alma mater, Southeast Missouri State University, from 1979 to 1989. His education is in speech communication, with a bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State and a master’s and doctorate from Southern Illinois University.

Stacy is from Bristol, Tenn. He died on Jan. 4, 2024, at the age of 85. He was married for 34 years to Dr. Sue Stacy, an educator who has taught at multiple institutions, including MiraCosta College, and has written several textbooks on microcomputer applications. They have three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.  


Alexander Gonzalez

Term of office: 1997-2003
Alexander Gonzalez was named interim president of CSUSM on June 25, 1997, eight days after founding president Bill W. Stacy announced his intention to depart. Gonzalez was named permanent president two years later.

During his tenure, the university celebrated its 10-year anniversary while Gonzalez oversaw the opening of several new buildings, including new classroom buildings for sciences and arts, the first on-campus student housing, and Clarke Field House for athletics.

Gonzalez departed on June 30, 2003 to become the president of Sacramento State, where he served until he retired in 2015. With 18 years between the two campuses, Gonzalez is one of the longest continuously serving presidents in the history of the CSU system. He also spent 18 years as a faculty member, department chair and provost at Fresno State, giving him almost four decades of total service to the CSU.

After serving in the Air Force, Gonzalez utilized the GI Bill to attend Pomona College, where he earned a history degree. He received a master’s and Ph.D. in psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and he spent a year at Stanford University as a post-doctoral fellow of the Ford Foundation and the National Research Council. He also attended Harvard Law School.

Gonzalez and his wife, Gloria, have two sons. 

Karen Haynes

Term of office: 2004-2019
Karen Haynes began her tenure as the third and longest-serving president of CSUSM in 2004. In the summer of 2016, she became the senior president of the 23-campus CSU system — the first woman ever to serve in that role. She has served for over 30 years as an academic administrator.

At CSUSM, Haynes led advances in serving traditionally underrepresented student populations — in spring 2019, 55 percent of graduating students were first in their families to achieve a four-year degree. The university’s student population now mirrors the rich diversity of the region; over half the student body identifies as being a minority. During her tenure, CSUSM notably served the highest per-capita numbers of both military-affiliated and American Indian students in the CSU system and more former foster youth per capita than any institution of higher education in the United States.

Haynes oversaw tremendous growth at CSUSM, including the construction of 14 new facilities, the addition of a Temecula campus and the doubling of relevant new academic programs and career certificates.

Before coming to CSUSM, Haynes was the president of the University of Houston-Victoria for 8½ years. A first-generation college student, she earned a master’s in social work from McGill University in Montreal and a doctorate in social work from the University of Texas at Austin.

Her husband, Jim Mickelson, was the founding director of CSUSM’s ACE Scholars Services, a unique program that provides support to former foster youth.