Campus: CSU Sacramento -- August 30, 2002

CSUS President Gerth to Retire

Donald R. Gerth, the longest serving president at California State University, Sacramento, today announced his retirement as president. He will leave the presidency in the summer of 2003.

Gerth said most of all it has been the people he has worked with who have made the job enjoyable. Gerth said, "It is the people who give us our strength and make us what we are. There are more opportunities for all people, for all backgrounds, to absorb new knowledge and to grow strong together from their experiences at CSUS. We have taken significant steps to reflect - in our students, faculty and staff - the diversity that is California. That diversity makes all our lives richer and brings tremendous strength."

Gerth was appointed as CSUS president in November 1983 and took office on July 1, 1984. He has spent 44 years in higher education within the California State University system where he began in 1958 as a member of the department of government and associate dean at San Francisco State. Since then he has served the system in numerous capacities and is now its senior administrator, having served in presidencies at CSU Sacramento and Dominguez Hills for a total of 27 years.

Gerth began working at 13 and has been employed since. He left high school at age 16 and entered the University of Chicago under an early entrance program and graduated at 18. He went on to earn two additional degrees there in political science with an emphasis in Asian politics. He took his first teaching job as a substitute high school math instructor in 1947 in order to earn money for graduate study.

Prior to joining the CSU system he had been on the admissions staff at the University of Chicago and served with World University Services in Southeast Asia. He served in the U.S. Air Force as an officer in intelligence and finance during and after the Korean War.

Prior to taking the two presidencies, Gerth served as a faculty member, in student services, as a dean, and as an academic vice president.

Gerth's 18 years on the Sacramento campus have resulted in a number of accomplishments including:

  • The campus has experienced significant structural growth. In his tenure buildings, laboratories and related facilities have been built and modernized through nearly $100 million in public and private funding. Newly constructed buildings provide more than 1.2 million square feet of space. Placer Hall, for example, is a unique partnership between the campus and the U.S. Geological Survey.

  • Gerth oversaw the growth and development of seven Colleges and the addition of a School of the Arts.

  • He created programs such as the Center for California Studies, designed to serve the entire state as a resource for history, culture and public policy in California and the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution to assist government agencies in mediated, less costly, settlements of issues.

  • He led efforts to improve global education through work with UNESCO, the United Nations University, and as president of the International Association of University Presidents.

  • Working with the Sacramento Area Trade and Commerce Organizations, Gerth developed programs to study and stimulate the economy of the Capital Region.

  • Gerth has served as chair of United Way and on the boards of SACTO and the Chamber of Commerce and initiated the University's participation as a founding member of the Northern California World Trade Center, where he is the chair of the board.

  • He led new academic initiatives including a joint doctoral program with UC Santa Barbara in public history, a master's degree program in public policy and administration, and the first master's degree in software engineering in a public California university. Additional doctoral programs are under development.

  • Fundraising began at the University began in earnest under Gerth, who oversaw the successful $54 million 50th anniversary campaign. Contributions and non-state funds have continued to grow. In 1999-2000 the University acquired approximately $11 million in voluntary support from private sources and $58 million in grants and contracts.

Gerth has served on numerous boards both international and local. He is a past president of the International Association of University Presidents, and currently serves on the board and as vice chair of the United Nations University. He also holds honorary doctorates from two Russian universities. Post retirement he will continue at the University in an emeritus role. He said he plans to teach, write about public policy and higher education in California, as well as internationally, and to remain active in higher education.

The process of finding his replacement will begin when the chair and the CSU Board of Trustees appoint a trustee committee for the selection of the president. The committee will be composed of the board chair, three trustees designated by the committee chair and the chancellor. There is also an advisory group of representatives from the campus.

Media: Assistance is available by contacting the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.


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