Ellen Neufeldt named CSUSM’s 4th president

Ellen J. Neufeldt, Ed.D.,with a career focused on student access and success, has been appointed as CSUSM's fourth president./CSUSM

After an eight-month search, the California State University Board of Trustees announced Wednesday it has appointed Ellen J. Neufeldt, Ed.D., to serve as the next president of California State University San Marcos (CSUSM).

Neufeldt currently serves as vice president of student engagement and enrollment services for Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

CSUSM when President Karen Haynes announced her retirement on June 30 of last year. The announcement was made via a personal email from Haynes to the campus community. Haynes was the longest-seated president in the CSU system – the first woman to hold this role in history.

The search kicked off last Nov. 15 when a search committee and advisory committee was named. The CSUSM Presidential Search Committee hosted an open forum for students, faculty, staff and the community on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity to work with CSUSM’s exceptional faculty, staff and growing number of supporters to reach new levels of achievement for current and future students,” said Neufeldt. “There has been remarkable growth both on the campus and in the local community and the opportunity for additional growth still remains. This is an exciting time for the campus and the prospects are limitless.”

Neufeldt becomes the fourth president of Cal State San Marcos. She will join the campus in her new capacity in July. Neufeldt succeeds Dr. Karen Haynes who will be retiring at the end of June, 2019 after serving as CSUSM president for nearly 16 years.

“Dr. Neufeldt has been a visionary leader who has demonstrated a commitment to student success throughout her career,” said CSU Trustee Jean Picker Firstenberg, chair of the CSUSM search committee. “She brings a wealth of experience, and will serve as an inspirational leader on the campus and in the community.”

Neufeldt has served as a vice president at ODU since 2011 where she leads the areas of student engagement, student success enrollment services, government relations, Institutional research, marketing and public relations.

Her previous higher education leadership roles include service as vice president of student affairs at Salisbury University and assistant vice chancellor for student development and dean of student life at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she also served as the assistant dean of students.

Neufeldt earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and a master’s in educational psychology and counselor education from Tennessee Technological University, and a doctorate of education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Replacing Haynes should prove a big challenge for Neufeldt

President Karen Haynes and “First Gentleman” Jim Mickelson/CSUSM

Haynes arrived at CSUSM in February 2004. At the time, the university was a youthful 14 years old with a student population of over 7,000 and an alumni base of 13,000. Under her leadership, the campus has flourished to a student body of 17,000, with 45,000 alumni.

The outgoing president has overseen the addition of 15 new buildings, not including the university’s Extended Learning Building, which will open in the fall of 2019 through a one-of-a-kind public-private partnership. In 2008, CSUSM at Temecula, an off-campus center serving Southwest Riverside County, opened.

Over 100 new academic programs have launched during her tenure, including CSUSM’s first engineering program in 2018. Additionally, Haynes championed the growth of Cougar athletics, including a transition to NCAA Division II. In 2015, Haynes publicly launched the university’s first major philanthropic campaign, Forward Together, an effort to raise $50 million, which will conclude on December 31, 2018.

At Haynes’ first Report to the Community in February 2005, she announced that the university would not only work to raise the educational attainment rate of the region, but would focus efforts on creating a more diverse student population that aligned with regional demographics.

By 2008, Cal State San Marcos was among the first institutions in the nation recognized as an Asian American and Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. In 2010, the university earned the designation of Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Today, approximately one in three CSUSM students falls outside the traditional age range of 18 to 22. Forty-five percent come from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, including the highest per-capita number—and the only increasing number—of American Indian students in the CSU system. Nearly half are the first in their family earning a four-year college degree. One in 10 are military affiliated.

For the last five years, CSUSM has been recognized with the national Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine, and has been consistently named a top college for veterans by Military Times.

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