Newswise — There's a saying that goes: “Time flies. It's up to you to be the navigator." Well in 2021, the California State University stayed its course of educational excellence and reached even higher altitudes of social mobility for its students, even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. The nation's largest, most diverse and most consequential university also welcomed aboard a new captain. As the eighth chancellor of the CSU, Dr. Joseph I. Castro stepped into the role during a time of intermittent turbulence with a fresh vision for the institution. In just 12 months, his strategic and innovative leadership has already made a deep and lasting impact.

As the year draws to a close and we reach our final destination of 2022, join us as we revisit just a few of the CSU's recent accomplishments. The forecast calls for clear skies ahead, so please fasten your seat belts and prepare for landing.


New Leadership at the CSU: The year kicked off with burgeoning excitement as the CSU welcomed Chancellor Castro, the university's first Mexican American and native Californian leader. To get to know him better, we asked a few of the people closest to him—family members, civic leaders, CSU faculty, students and alumni—to share a glimpse into the character of the CSU's eighth chancellor. ​

In more great news, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, the educational mission and work of the CSU continued to resonate with donors, supporters and other friends of the university whose generosity assists programmatic excellence throughout the CSU. “In a year unlike any other, the unwavering support of our generous and forward-thinking donors has set records for fundraising across the California State University," Chancellor Castro said.


The Seismic Zone: If you’ve lived in California for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced an earthquake. For years, scientists have been warning us about “The Big One.” As California braces itself for that future inevitability, we took a look at CSU faculty and students who are working to help prepare the state for earthquakes, large and small.​


A Triumphant Return: Now more than ever, a college degree is integral to helping people launch fulfilling careers and improve their lives. But outside circumstances sometimes force students to put their college dreams on hold. Returning to school is never easy—fortunately CSU campuses are always eager to welcome students back and help them on the road to success.

With some 130,000 graduates each year, the CSU is home to an amazing roster of notable alumni. Success is often measured as a series of small steps forward, yet every now and then it's helpful to stop and take a look back. A CSU education is not only the launching pad to endless possibilities but a tool that never stops giving. We asked a few remarkable alumni to reflect on how the CSU served as an effective stepping-stone to their successful careers.


The Race Against the Climate Crisis: To truly save the earth, there needs to be an effort to mitigate climate change by addressing the cause of the problem: greenhouse gas emissions. For Earth Month, we explored how CSU faculty and students are finding ways to curtail emissions and extract carbon from the atmosphere.

The economic impact study released in April quantified the CSU's economic contributions to the state, including the creation of 209,400 jobs annually throughout California. The university contributes to the state's economy with a return of nearly seven dollars for every dollar invested by California.


Cheers to the Class of 4 Million: With the graduation of the Class of 2021, the CSU reached the astounding milestone of 4 million living alumni. While these alumni have spread out across the globe, about 84 percent of them remain in California, with one in 10 of all workers in the state holding a CSU degree. To celebrate, the California State Assembly and Senate each passed a resolution to honor the CSU's milestone and its essential impact on the state.

CSU graduates donned their regalia for one of the CSU's most unique commencement seasons yet, as campuses held in-person and drive-in ceremonies, graduation parades and virtual celebrations.

Graduation day is an exhilarating event. But what happens after the confetti settles? We spoke to CSU alumni to see how a degree impacted their lives post-graduation.


30 Days of Pride: LGBTQIA awareness is always in season, but during Pride Month in June, there's a heightened sense of visibility and community. We highlighted CSU faculty members, students, alumni and staff who are committed to breaking down closet doors year-round.

The CSU received spectacular news as California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the state budget, which restored funds that were previously cut. Funding will include support for student mental health services and rapid rehousing for houseless and housing insecure students. Chancellor Castro called the news “bold and visionary."


The Secret to Their CSUCCESS: In July, the CSU announced the first phase of its largest-ever device distribution that provided iPad Airs for more than 22,700 first-year and new transfer students at eight campuses. The CSUCCESS Initiative aims to enhance equity and student achievement for CSU students.

The CSU Chancellor's Office also welcomed Sylvia A. Alva, Ph.D.​, in July when she was appointed executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs of the California State University. Dr. Alva is a first-generation college graduate and a product of the CSU, having earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from California State University, Los Angeles.


First in Line: At the CSU, nearly one-third of undergraduates are the first in their family to attend college. While this is an incredible accomplishment, those first days on campus can stir up feelings of apprehension. We spoke to CSU community members—including Chancellor Castro—who accepted the challenge and transformed from first-generation students to remarkable leaders who pay it forward.

In August, the CSU announced its partnership with Apple and California Governor Gavin Newsom to establish a Global Hispanic Serving Institution Equity Innovation Hub​ that will be housed on the California State University, Northridge campus. The hub will work to transform HSIs throughout the CSU and nation to increase student success and equip Latinx and other historically underserved students with skills for high-demand careers in STEM.


¡Si Se Puede!: To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognized just 30 of the notable Latinx students, staff, faculty and alumni from across the CSU who have served or continue to serve their campuses and communities.

In his first “State of the CSU" address, Chancellor Joseph I. Castro explored how the lessons of the past 18 months have issued a calling for the CSU to be an even more vital and equitable institution.


Move-in Day 2021: “Welcome back!" had a new ring to it this year. As we emerge from the global health crisis, CSU campuses have returned to their natural hustle and bustle. In the grand tradition of “back to school," students packed up their school supplies, said “see you soon" to their families and headed to campus. And we are elated to have them back.

In October, the CSU announced it will not make future fossil fuel investments in university investment portfolios and funds. Chancellor Castro said, “Consistent with our values, it is an appropriate time to start to transition away from these types of investments, both to further demonstrate our commitment to a sustainable CSU but also to ensure strong future returns on the funds invested by the university."​

In addition, the hard work to improve student success across all 23 CSU campuses continues to pay off, as graduation rates have risen to all-time highs for both first-time and transfer students, despite the turbulence associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. A record 132,167 degrees were conferred by CSU campuses in 2020-21—nearly 25,000 more than prior to the 2015 launch of the university-wide Graduation Initiative 2025.


Serving Those Who Served: The CSU's commitment to student success extends to all students, especially those who serve or have served our country. For Veterans Day, we took a look at a few of the resources available to military-connected students and those who are thinking about attending the CSU.

Drought is one of California's most persistent issues. As climate change drives temperatures higher and water levels lower, a critical strain is being placed on one of our most essential resources. We explored how CSU faculty, students and alumni are fervently working on solutions to mitigate the damage.


'Tis the Season: The season of giving is upon us. In the spirit of the holidays, CSU campuses enlisted faculty, staff and students to give back​ to their communities through food drives, gift donations, volunteer days and more.

Venture further back to past years and see what the CSU accomplished in a mere 365 days.​