Dr. Jolene Koester began her tenure as the California State University’s interim chancellor on May 1, 2022. Her appointment is expected to last between 12 and 15 months, as the CSU Board of Trustees conducts a national search for the university’s next regularly appointed chancellor.
The appointment marks a return to the CSU for Dr. Koester, who enjoyed a long and distinguished career at the university – one that spanned nearly 30 years.
Most recently, Dr. Koester served as president of California State University, Northridge from 2000 until 2011. She successfully led CSUN through a period of unprecedented growth, with the student population increasing by more than 25 percent during her tenure, from 29,000 to nearly 37,000 students. Under Dr. Koester’s leadership, this period of growth coincided with dramatic improvements in student success, including significant gains in both graduation and retention rates. During her administration, the campus also solidified its position as the intellectual and cultural hub of Greater Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley. The Soraya, CSUN’s state-of-the-art performing arts center which opened in 2011, perennially offers a calendar featuring student performers and world-renowned visiting musicians and dance troupes.
Prior to her presidency at CSUN, Dr. Koester served as provost of California State University, Sacramento. During her 17-year career on the Sacramento State campus, she also served as an associate professor, professor, department chair, assistant vice president, associate vice president and vice president for academic affairs.
Dr. Koester’s prior experience in higher education also includes service at the University of Missouri, Columbia and the University of Minnesota.
Throughout her career, Dr. Koester has developed a well-earned reputation as an ethical and purpose-driven leader, a champion of student success and inclusive excellence, and an unwavering supporter of innovation in teaching and learning.
Since her retirement from CSUN in 2011, Dr. Koester has continued to advance these values and ideals, serving as senior consultant for American Association of State Colleges and Universities Consulting. In this role, she has worked with university presidents and chancellors to enhance student success through improved strategic planning, change management, enhanced communications and team building.
Dr. Koester earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin before returning to the University of Minnesota to earn her Ph.D. in speech communication.