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CSU San Marcos President Talks About Leadership, Legacy And Her Retirement

March 7, 2019 1:41 p.m.

Guest: Karen Haynes, President of California State University San Marcos

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California State University San Marcos President Karen Haynes is retiring this year at the end of June after 15 years on the job. When she started she was just one of few women who were presidents with the university system. During her time she saw a major shift in leadership. I sat down and spoke with her about that change what it's meant for CSU San Marcos and what's next.

Today more than 50 percent of the president at CSU 12 of the 23 are women. When you started back in 2004 you were just one of four. How does that feel and how has that impacted the CSU system.

Well it feels wonderful because I've spent a lot of my career being one the only one or one of few. So coming here is one of four. And then having a stay that way for far too long it is nice to now see that lots of people are recognizing the talent of women and the fact is there have been increasing numbers of women not only just undergraduates but getting doctoral degrees and in in vice presidency. So the pool is both deeper and broader than it used to be for women and we have a very diverse group of women presence meaning from their academic backgrounds the previous careers they had in the academy so it really feels wonderful to be the majority.

And you've been in this position for 15 years. What's kept you in this role for so long.

Well the reason that I came was the possibility of the excitement of literally building a 21st century university having some role in the visioning in the strategic planning. I don't I would say to you I never thought I would be here for 15 years. But what has kept me here is the opportunities keep presenting itself or we keep challenging the status quo and assuring that we can grow in strategic ways and with public private partnerships. So I just stayed because I was enjoying it having fun and I hope making a difference and your educational background is in social work.

Yes. How have you used that. In this line and in how have you achieved some of the things you've been able to achieve with that background.

I think one is the value basis that brought me into social work also has have framed both of my presidencies values about releasing public higher education as opportunity as access as the real social mobility for many people. So here when I said when I first came I want to raise the educational attainment rate of the entire region and diversify our student population to link mirrored the region's demography. That was social war probably speaking to me. And what is the value proposition that has led my vision here on the campus to be community engaged to be that open access public institution is also for me a set of skills that are I think are essential for today's university presence and not just public university presence.

Most of my job is around interpersonal skills. It is consensus building. It is influencing. It is mediating and it is helping to find people find ways of collaborating. Those are all also social work skills.

I mean building those strategic relationships and yes you have to be able to do that. So CSU San Marcos has grown a lot in the last 15 years. The number of students has more than doubled. You've got a satellite campus in Temecula. There are more than 100 new programs that you've added. What do you see as the impact of all that growth.

Well I look at the region and I look at our impact on creating the future nurses teachers now engineers scientists business owners entrepreneurs making a real difference because 80 percent of our alumni stay in this region. So for this region we are really a very good return on the region's investment in. So when that investment is financial that investment is because they're mentoring our students or providing internship and clinical placements.

We are changing the face certainly of North County and I think quite a bit south and into Temecula and early on you committed the university to both increasing the educational attainment of the region and to embracing a more diverse student population. If you were to grade the University on how far it's come in how close it is to reaching that goal what would you give a.

And our student population mirrors the demography and we have partnerships and have had with 10 public school districts that cover 200000 students that provide clear pathways and guaranteed admission if they stay on that path through high school graduation.

You've said your leadership style fits CSU San Marcos because you prefer to focus on visioning and growing. What achievements are you most proud of.

Well I would say one is really changing the educational attainment rate of this entire region and providing that access. I would say that this campus has grown into incredibly welcoming place force for students and for people in the community. Having been able to also create a campus that built student life opportunities for students also meant we could continue to not only attract the best and the brightest students and be an institution of first choice but provide those opportunities for students that are co curricular that provide also the leadership in the team building whether sports whether it's recreation whether it's organizations that are discipline related or club related all of that.

And you recently announced that the university surpassed its 50 million dollar fundraising goal by five million dollars.

What will be done with that money well spent much of it is always donor designated so a lot of it is going by donors designation certainly to scholarships some of them some of it is going to an endowment which for me is wonderful because that's sort of obviously the sustained payment out for whether as scholarships whether it's operational support of some of our most important programs some of it is going for buildings and we're going to double the size of our veterans center where the philanthropic gift probably as importantly what that campaign also did was increase in that we had 66 hundred first time donors to see assures him throughout the campaign.

Now the goal is retain those donors keep them engaged with the university and hopefully help there their donations increase over their career.

So what do you want your legacy to be.

That I increased access to this institution and in doing so we also increased the quality of educational offerings and students support that we came became a really community engaged university not just here in North County but integrally connected south of the 56 Up to Temecula with communities all right.

And you and your husband are retiring at the same time.

What's next. Well for me there'll be a bit of a pause. I have never had an empty calendar and I want to see what that feels like. We've got some travel plans we want to do more international travel when we have more time to do that. We have four grandchildren getting older all the time we want to see a little bit more of them. None of them live close by. And then I want to see where my obviously my what my passions have been our public higher education and women and increasing career opportunities and access for women.

I suspect my post retirement passions will remain around those two areas.

President Haynes I appreciate you taking time to talk to us today. Thank you.