Since the California State University system began in 1857, no individual has served as president of their respective institution longer than Ruben Armiñana of Sonoma State University. Now entering his 24th year as president of the school, Armiñana announced his retirement Monday, Aug. 24. He is not the only CSU President to retire as of late. Presidents from three other CSU campuses including San Jose, Chico and Channel Islands are also making switches and filling the position with new candidates.
When asked about the factors that led to his retirement, Armiñana simply said “time!” He has exceeded the average time of office held by presiding CSU Presidents by three-times the length of presidency, seeing as most remain in the position for an average of five to seven years.
Prior to Armiñana joining the campus, Sonoma State was vastly different, according to many. The institution was primarily a commuter school with re-entry students and on the edge of impending closure.
“He came on board when [Sonoma State] was just a shadow of itself,” said Andrew Rogerson, provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Now you have the most amazing campus in the CSU system.”
Many students and faculty can agree Sonoma State has improved immensely throughout Armiñana’s 24 years at the university. But amid all the positive change resides the inevitable controversies, including a vote of no confidence in Armiñana’s leadership by SSU faculty in 2007.
It’s hard to imagine Sonoma State as anything other than what it is now; a sprawling 269 acre campus covered with modernized buildings such as the Green Music Center and residential living that sits with much prestige in the national rank
ings. perhaps one of the most notable advancements that the university has made comes in the form of residential housing. In 1992, when Armiñana began his adventure at Sonoma State, the school housed less than 600 of its students.
Now, over 3200 students lay claim to living on-campus in one of the best systems of dormitories the nation has to offer. The six residential villages boast suite-style living, housing 90 percent of the school’s freshmen class and 37 percent of all undergraduate students.
The influence of Armiñana can be found through all aspects of this higher education facility.
“Nothing gives me more pride than when I am approached locally and nationally, even abroad, by an alum who happily and proudly tells me that he or she went to SSU and how great that experience was,” Armiñana said at last week’s onvocation. “My eternal wish is that this expression continues for our present and future students.”
Since the beginning of his near quarter-century presidency, students have been at the top of the totem pole for Armiñana.
“I remember hearing [the president] addressing the incoming freshmen class of 2014. I could tell he had a deep appreciation for his school and students,” said Christian Casias, a sophomore Communication Studies major.
Throughout his time leading Sonoma State, there have been people who have disagreed with the practices and practical applications of President Armiñana,
“To stay true to your vision, you can’t make everyone happy. He has stayed true,” said Rogerson.
Per his vision, Armiñana pushed his version of academic excellence that focused around curricular learning. Armiñana wants the students of Sonoma State to be prepared to solve real-world problems.
“The opportunity to do learning outside the classroom is enormous,” said Rogerson.
By July 1, 2016, a new President will be assigned to Sonoma State by the California State University Board of Trustees, which consists of 25 members, administrators and students associated with the CSU system.
As Sonoma State University inches closer to having a new serving president, the strides taken by the longest serving president in the CSU system history will forever be imprinted in the culture of the Rohnert Park campus.
The transformation of the residential life as well as academic rigor has solidified SSU as a viable campus for those seeking the college experience.
Armiñana has left some big footprints to fill, but he does have some words of wisdom for his successor; “I hope he or she has patience, takes the long view, and creates a long lasting love affair with the university,” said the long time president.