Stephen Perez smiling in profile photo.
Press Release Leadership

Stephen Perez Appointed President of California State University, Chico



Stephen Perez smiling in profile photo.

The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees has appointed Stephen Perez to serve as president of California State University, Chico. Perez currently serves as the university's interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

“I consider it an honor and a privilege to be selected to lead Chico State," said Perez. “In my time at the university, I have been taken by the 'Chico Experience'—a palpable climate of caring and belonging, as well as a deep respect for culture and the natural environment. Chico State is the North State's educational center, and I will work energetically to strengthen partnerships across the university and region that will allow us to reach new heights as a student-centered, college-town institution that changes lives and connects us all."

Perez becomes the university's 13th president and succeeds Gayle E. Hutchinson, who will be retiring at the end of June.

“Dr. Perez's progressive leadership experience and steadfast dedication to inclusive excellence and student success make him the right person to continue, indeed amplify, Chico State's strong legacy," said CSU Trustee Lillian Kimbell, chair of the Chico State Presidential Search Committee. “He has a proven track record of strong fiscal management, community building and advocacy for faculty and students."

Perez has spent most of his 30-year career in higher education with the CSU system. For 20 years, he served in academic and administrative roles at Sacramento State, including professor, department chair, interim dean, vice provost and provost. As provost, he led efforts to increase Sac State's four-year graduate rates from 9 percent to more than 25 percent while working to eliminate equity gaps.

In January 2022, Perez was appointed interim president at San José State. In that role, he led the implementation of strategies to close equity gaps and increase enrollment, worked to strengthen a culture of care on campus, build community relationships, and fortify the university's reputation for academic excellence. 

Perez has served as Chico State's interim provost since January 2023, during which time he has led the university's enrollment continuum effort and helped close a $20 million budget gap.

Additionally, Perez has held faculty positions at Virginia Commonwealth University and Washington State University. 

After receiving his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California, San Diego, Perez went on to earn his master's and doctorate in economics from the University of California, Davis.

Perez will assume the university presidency on July 1, 2023.

About the California State University

The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, nearly 460,000 students, and 56,000 faculty and staff. Nearly 40 percent of the CSU's undergraduate students transfer from California Community Colleges. The CSU was created in 1960 with a mission of providing high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards nearly 130,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 4 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.