USU Executive Director Debra L. Hammond Announces Retirement

January 24, 2024

Sharon S. Kinard
Associate Director, Administration and Communications
University Student Union
California State University, Northridge


University Student Union Executive Director Debra L. Hammond announced her plans to retire Tuesday after 30 years of service to California State University, Northridge. Hammond shared the news during the January staff meeting.

Debra L. Hammond

“I am retiring,” said Hammond. “My retirement date is December 31, 2024. I am being very intentional about this. I have worked here for a very long period of time, and in higher education for almost 45 years. It's time for me to do some other things that I desire to do.”

Hammond, who since her arrival at CSUN in 1993 is responsible for bringing to the University Student Union and the campus the Student Recreation Center, Pride Center, Veterans Resource Center, and the Oasis Wellness Center, said she has been thinking seriously about retirement for the past year. 

“I am excited about it. I have actually drafted a plan for how I am going to spend my time during the next year,” said Hammond who added that she will continue to work on the USU Heart of Campus Project and acknowledged that Samantha Liu, the associate director of operations and services, now serves as the project’s lead.

Hammond said her last months will be spent helping to make the transition smooth.

“There are things that I like to be involved in, including financing, and visioning.” she said. She also expressed that she will be involved in succession planning that includes handing over relationships that she has established throughout the years to the executive management team and others. It will mean providing historical context about the student union, documenting its history and its impact for future generations.

“I have to figure out how to get it out of my head and into somebody else’s head and onto paper,” Hammond said. The future of the USU’s staffing may include job sharing and part-time jobs for those who have the need.

Hammond said the USU’s Board of Directors will decide how her replacement will be determined. Options include a national search.

The USU is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization governed primarily by students. In 2013, she opened a $60 million Student Recreation Center as well as a Pride (LGBTQIA+) Center, a Veterans Resource Center, and a state-of-the-art Oasis Wellness Center, as part of her areas of responsibilities. She currently is in the process of planning a $130 million construction/renovation project for the USU along with the Valera Basic Needs Suite (name still to be finalized) for the campus. At CSUN, she also serves as a faculty member in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education. She teaches in the college counseling/student services program where she received the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award in 2012. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, Los Angeles.

She is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) where she has served in a number of volunteer capacities, including President and Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. In 2002, she received the Association’s highest honor, the Butts-Whiting Award for outstanding service to the association and the profession. In 2022, she received the ACUI Legacy Leader Award, which recognizes exemplary leaders within the profession, who have worked throughout their careers to mentor and support other professionals and exude the spirit and character of a campus community builder. 

At CSUN, she served as the Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Life, was a member of the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC) Accreditation Team, the Commission of Diversity and Inclusion, and Co-Chair of the Black Student Success Council. She formerly spearheaded the Division of Student Affairs program review efforts. Debra has presented educational sessions on a variety of topics including strategic thinking and planning, leadership, change management, executive presence, diversity, equity and inclusion, and political savvy at a number of professional associations including ACUI, Auxiliary Organizations Association (AOA), Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation.  She has conducted program and the Council of Advancement of Standards (CAS) reviews at a number of student unions throughout the country.

For her body of work, the California State University (CSU) selected Debra from among the CSU’s 23 campuses as its outstanding staff member of 2016. The Wang Family Excellence Award is the highest award presented to an administrator by the CSU. She was recognized for her meritorious commitment and dedication to advance the CSU’s mission, bringing benefit and credit to the CSU, and enhancing the CSU’s excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. Debra also received the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 Women in Business Awards Luncheon for her accomplishments as a woman in business. Additionally, she received the Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Award from CSUN for her legacy in mentoring students, faculty and staff at the university and beyond. 

Debra is also committed to serving her community. In 2019, she completed several years of service on the Board of Directors of the Mid Valley YMCA. She has served on the boards of several non-profit community-based organizations including: Book Ends, Ensemble Theatre Company, and the ’75 Scholarship Committee. She also is a proud member of the African American Board Leadership Institute (AABLI), which seeks to increase the number of African Americans who serve on non-profit and corporate boards and governmental commissions. Additionally, Debra serves as a consultant and coach for colleges, universities and non-profit organizations across the country in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, campus politics, diversity, equity and inclusion, and organizational development.


The University Student Union (USU) is committed to inclusion, diversity and personal growth for all students while providing services such as study areas, lounge spaces, prayer room, lactation room and wireless printing kiosks in addition to a variety of food options and a wide range of events. The USU includes the Student Recreation Center, Oasis Wellness Center, Pride Center, Veterans Resource Center, DREAM Center, USU Board of Directors, Computer Lab, Games Room, USU Programs and more. For additional information, please visit