President's Office

Biography of Dr. Jolene Koester

Dr. Jolene Koester served as President of California State University, Northridge from 2000–2011.

She began her appointment as the fourth president of California State University, Northridge on July 1, 2000, one of the largest campuses in the 23-campus California State University system. During her tenure, the University enrolled more than 35,000 students and employed nearly 4,000 faculty and staff, and celebrated its 50th anniversary as the only public university located in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, home to about 1.8 million residents. In Spring 2011, the University completed construction of the new Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge, a state-of-the-art venue featuring a 1700-seat main performance hall, as well as rehearsal spaces, academic spaces, and an experimental theater.

Known nationally for her leadership in the area of higher education, Dr. Koester has served as a member and past chair of the Board of Directors for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and on a variety of other higher education organizations.

In the community, as president, she served the greater Los Angeles community as an active member of the boards of directors for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. She was also a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and the Los Angeles Jobs and Economy Committee. She received numerous awards and recognitions for her leadership in the Los Angeles region.

For the California State University system — the largest public higher education system in the nation — Dr. Koester served on the Systemwide Budget Advisory Committee, the Human Resources Advisory Group, the Systemwide Admission Advisory Council, the Presidents' Council on Underserved Communities, the Housing Review Committee, and the Technology Steering Committee.

As president, Dr. Koester was committed to furthering the excellence of the University. Under her leadership, the University increased retention and graduation rates while remaining accessible to qualified students and maintaining its historical commitment to diversity. She was committed to ensuring that the University played an indispensable role in the region as an intellectual, cultural and economic driver. At the beginning of her presidency, Dr. Koester identified several goals to serve as the focus of the campus' efforts. These include improving graduation rates, creating a user-friendly campus, strengthening the University's connections to the community, and increasing fundraising.

Prior to her appointment at Cal State Northridge, Dr. Koester served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University, Sacramento, a post she had held since 1993. Before her service as provost, she held other executive positions in the academic affairs division at Sacramento State, and was a faculty member there, as a professor of communication studies, since 1980. She earned a Bachelor's of Arts from the University of Minnesota in 1970, a Master's of Arts in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1971, and a Ph.D. in speech communication from Minnesota in 1980.

In fall 2009, the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees of The California State University (CSU) completed their third three-year performance evaluation of President Koester. The public summary stated that Dr. Koester, "continues to deliver superior performance as president of a very large urban university…. [and] is a leader among CSU presidents as well as the national higher education community."

In May 2011, President Koester announced her plans to step down as president of California State University, Northridge at the end of December 2011 and subsequently retire from the California State University.

For more information about Dr. Koester's presidency, please visit the website, President Jolene Koester: Legacy of Leadership.

Return to the Presidential Archives main page.