Nov. 22, 1999 Vol. IV, No. 7

Jolene Koester Named President of Cal State Northridge

Sacramento State Provost Brings 26-Year Academic Career, Strong Commitment to Educational Access

After growing up in a small Minnesota town, Jolene Koester (left)became the first member of her family to graduate from high school and attend college. So when the new president-elect of Cal State Northridge now speaks of the transforming value of higher education, it's a conviction born of personal experience.

Culminating a national search, the California State University's Board of Trustees last week appointed Koester, provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of communication studies at Sacramento State, as the fourth president of Cal State Northridge.

On July 1, Koester will succeed Louanne Kennedy, who has been CSUN's interim president since June. Blenda Wilson, CSUN's president since 1992, left in June to become president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Foundation.

"Let me begin by simply saying that I am very, very pleased to have this opportunity to work at Northridge," said Koester, who will come to CSUN with a 26-year career in higher education. "I am very committed to the CSU and its mission, and I think the California State University campus at Northridge is an exemplar of that commitment to access."

When asked her initial priorities, Koester said, "What I'd like to do first is have an opportunity to meet more of the people on the Northridge campus and more of the people in the community who have a stake in the quality and the character of the education at CSUN."

The CSU trustees announced Koester's selection from a field of four finalists at their Tuesday, November 16 meeting in Long Beach, and she made an impromptu campus visit on Wednesday.

Kennedy plans to return to her post as provost and vice president for academic affairs.

"I am very excited about the many opportunities at CSUN. It's an outstanding CSU campus with excellent faculty, students and staff. While the opportunities are plentiful, so are the challenges that lie ahead," said Koester.

"I look forward to working with the entire campus and the surrounding community to ensure that CSUN offers the best possible education for students and serves the San Fernando Valley well," she said.

CSUN's president-elect said the Cal State system's commitment to access to higher education is of critical societal importance and a value she herself holds dear. After growing up in Plato, Minn., population 250, with parents who never graduated high school, higher education helped open Koester's world.

"It provided for me a first-hand experience of how higher education can transform the person and make things possible," Koester said. She was the first and oldest among five siblings -all with first names beginning with "J"-to attend college. Her father ran a small automotive shop and never even attended high school.

Koester's selection won high praise not only from Cal State system officials, but others who have known her and worked with her during her years in the Cal State system. She was chosen from among about 100 candidates who were involved in the overall selection process.

"Jolene Koester is an outstanding educational leader. She is very well respected at CSU Sacramento, has a great deal of insight into how the CSU system operates, and has a clear understanding of the CSU mission," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "CSU Sacramento's loss is certainly CSU Northridge's gain."

Added CSU Trustee Laurence Gould, who chaired the CSU selection committee for the job, "I'm absolutely delighted with the selection of Jolene Koester as the president of CSUN. She's going to be able to hit the ground running," Gould said, calling her "probably one of the most qualified individuals" ever selected for a CSU presidency.

Said Interim President Kennedy, "Dr. Koester clearly demonstrated that she possesses the leadership, skills and vision to guide Cal State Northridge to the next level of excellence in the new century and that she understands the unique challenges that face our institution."

Koester, 51, served in her present position at Sacramento since 1993. As provost, Koester oversees Sacramento State's seven colleges, the university's library, regional and continuing education, university computing and telecommunication services, academic advising and research/grants.

Previously she worked in other executive positions in the academic affairs division at Sacramento State. She came to the university as a faculty member in 1983. Koester earned a B.A. from the University of Minnesota, an M.A. in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Ph.D. in speech communication from Minnesota.

Author of several academic books and articles on intercultural and interpersonal communication, the Fulbright Scholar has served on CSU systemwide committees on Cornerstones (the systemwide strategic plan), budget and accountability, and teacher preparation. She chaired Sacramento State's NCAA accreditation study and was president of the Western States Communication Association.

Jolene Koester Background


Doctor of Philosophy, August 1980
University of Minnesota
Speech Communication Department

Master of Arts, December 1972
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Communication Arts

Bachelor of Arts March 1971
University of Minnesota
College of Liberal Arts
Magna Cum Laude


Cal State Northridge Nov. 1999

Provost, '96-'99
Vice President
for Academic Affairs, '93-'99
Sacramento State

Associate V.P., '91-'93
for Academic Affairs
Sacramento State

Assistant V.P. for Academic Affairs
Sacramento State, '89-'91

Chair, Dept. of Communication Studies
Sacramento State, '86-'89

Professor, Communication Studies
Sacramento State, '89-'99

Assoc. Prof., Communication Studies
Sacramento State, '85-'89

Asst. Prof., Communication Studies
Sacramento State, '83-'85

Asst. Prof.
Speech and Dramatic Art, '80-'83
University of Missouri-Columbia

Teaching Assoc., Speech Communication
University of Minnesota, '77-'80

Educational Coordinator
(Senior Student Personnel Worker) International Study and Travel Center, University of Minnesota, '74-'77

Awards and Honors:

Phi Beta Delta, '97

Academic Associate
Atlantic Council, '95

Associated Students, Inc.
"Students First" Award
, '95

Fulbright-Hays Travel/Study Faculty Development Program Award,
"Seminar on Cultural Diversity in Malaysia", '91

Award for Research in International Educational Exchange,
Council on International Education Exchange, '88

Phi Kappa Phi, '87

Meritorious Performance and Professional Promise Award, '85 and '89

Ford Foundation Fellowship, University of Wisconsin '72-'73

Phi Beta Kappa, '70

Fulbright Grant
for Study in India '68-'69

University of Minnesota Exchange Scholarship
for study in India, '68-'69

CSU System Professional Service:

Year Round Operations, Academic Affairs Vice Presidents' Work Group, (Chair), '99

Linking Accountability to CSU Budget Task Force (Chair), '97

Cornerstones Task Force on Institutional Integrity, Performance, and Accountability, '96-'97

President's K-18 Task Force on Teacher Preparation, Rewards and Resources Subcommittee, '96-'97

Coordinator, CSU-Thailand Rajabhat Institute Project, '96-'97

Planning Committee, CSU Leadership Institute, Fall '96

Design Team, CSU Virtual University, Fall '96

Commission on Learning Information and Resource Technologies, '95-Present

Program Committee, Commission on Learning Information and Resource Technologies, '95-Present Chair, '98-'99

Accountability Task Force, '95-'96

Convener, National Learning Infrastructure Initiative on Indexing, '95-'96

Task Force on Productivity in the California State University, '95-'97

November 8, 1999

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