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Chico State

California State University Board of Trustees Appoints Steve Perez 13th President of Chico State

The brick facade of an academic building with three arches in the front
Jason Halley

The area where the time capsules are buried in front of Kendall Hall is seen in the early morning of Wednesday, May 26, 2021 in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU, Chico)

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.”

Steve Perez

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.

As that role concluded, he accepted his current position at Chico State. Since January, he has led the Enrollment Continuum effort to focus on growing enrollment and helped close a $20 million budget gap.

Previously, Perez also held faculty positions at Virginia Commonwealth University and Washington State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s and doctorate in economics from UC Davis.

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

Also on Tuesday, the Board of Trustees appointed a new president for Sacramento State. J. Luke Wood, the vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity and chief diversity officer at San Diego State
University, will become Sac State’s ninth president.