Bill Stacy addressing a class at CSU San Marcos.
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The CSU Remembers the Life of Bill W. Stacy


Founding president of Cal State San Marcos passes away at age 85.

Bill Stacy addressing a class at CSU San Marcos.

​Photo courtesy of the University Archives, California State University San Marcos Special Collections, University Library​


The California State University (CSU) remembers the life of former California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) President Bill W. Stacy, who passed away January 8, 2024, at the age of 85. Appointed in 1989 as CSUSM's founding president, Stacy presided over the establishment of CSU's first new campus since 1965 and the nation's first new state university in more than two decades.

“Dr. Stacy was a bold leader and a true visionary,” said CSU Chancellor Mildred García. “He combined a keen intellect, creativity and fierce determination with a compassionate heart and an unwavering commitment to the students he served. These qualities made him the ideal founding president of Cal State San Marcos, and his leadership set the university on a steeply upward trajectory that continues to this day. Dr. Stacy’s positive impact – to CSUSM and to the CSU more broadly – will span generations. He will be deeply missed by all who had the honor to work with and know him.”​

Stacy led CSUSM through its foundational years. Within the first year of his presidency, CSUSM hired a dozen founding faculty members, developed a curriculum for nine degree programs, and welcomed the first incoming class of approximately 450 students. He also oversaw the planning of​ the university's permanent campus in its current location, which opened in 1992 with three buildings. When Stacy left in 1997, CSUSM was educating a student body of almost 4,500 and offering 19 bachelor's degrees, 15 teacher credentials and eight master's degrees.

“Dr. Stacy's inspiring leadership as the first president of CSUSM paved the way for the university we are today – a model of student success, academic excellence and exemplary community engagement," said CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt in a letter to her campus community. “I'm grateful for his vital contributions to our university and extend my deepest condolences to the Stacy family on behalf of everyone at CSUSM."​​

Following his departure from the CSU, Stacy became the chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he served until 2004. He continued his career in education as the headmaster of the Baylor School, a prep school in Chattanooga, until ​his retirement in 2009.

Stacy is survived by his wife Sue and their three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.  ​