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Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester to retire

May 9, 2011 |  4:53 pm

The president of Cal  State Northridge, Jolene Koester, announced Monday that she would leave her post in December, after serving more than 11 years at the helm of the San Fernando Valley’s largest public university.

In a campus-wide email anouncing her retirement, Koester listed several achievements during her tenure, including improvements in graduation rates and academic programs and enhanced campus facilities and said it was time to step aside.

“Being president of California State University, Northridge has been a most exhilarating and satisfying professional responsibility,”  she said. “My time here has involved a personal engagement with an institution whose mission I deeply care about and whose faculty and staff have daily inspired me.”

Koester, 63,  said she plans to rest but will also pursue research on the role of communications and its use by university presidents and chancellors to corral success and deal with challenges.

In a statement,  Cal State Chancellor Charles B. Reed said: “Jolene’s transformational leadership, vision and great passion for public higher education have influenced tens of thousands of students and have helped Cal State Northridge flourish.”

Koester became the fourth president of the Northridge campus in July 2000 when it was still recovering from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. She has overseen a campus rebuilding project that includes several new academic buildings, residence halls and the recently opened $125-million Valley Performing Arts Center.

Her tenure has also been marked by a decline in state funding support for the 23-campus Cal State University system that has forced campus presidents to curtail enrollment and impose steep program cuts.

A replacement for Koester will be chosen by Cal State’s Board of Trustees.

-- Carla Rivera