George Minns (1857-1862 and 1865-1866)
Born in Boston in 1813, Minns graduated from Harvard College with the class of 1836
and received a law degree from the Howard Dane Law School of Harvard. He practiced
law in Massachusetts for several years before moving to California. After the Gold
Rush caused the collapse of his law practice and Minns lost all of his savings, he
became a teacher at the Union Grammar School, the first California high school, and
became principal of the Normal School the following year.
Ahira Holmes, Principal (1862-65)
Ahira Holmes was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1823. He attended the State Normal
School of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and taught in the Plymouth public school before
moving to California in 1852. Holmes was principal in both a San Francisco public
school and a grammar school in Los Angeles before accepting an appointment as principal
of the State Normal School in San Jose. He spent his twilight years managing a fruit
farm in San Jose.
Henry P. Carlton, Principal (1866-67 and February to May 1868)
Henry P. Carlton grew up on a farm in Andover, Massachusetts, and excelled in writing
and speaking. He attended Vermont University, but never finished due to illness. Before
becoming principal of the State Normal School, Carlton worked in the insurance business,
was principal of the North Beach Grammar School in San Francisco, was deputy to the
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and held the position of vice principal
of the Normal School. His main contribution to the Normal School was research in the
fields of physiology, natural history and mental philosophy as they apply to teaching.
While at the Normal School, he collected nearly all of the then-known species of land
and fresh water shells of the Pacific Coast.
George E. Tait, Principal (July 1867 - February 1868)
George E. Tait was born in New York City in 1831, but had strong roots in Virginia.
He attended the University of Virginia and taught in the state before moving to California
in 1853. Tait was deeply involved in California education before coming to the Normal
School. He taught evening courses at the French Bank in San Francisco, was appointed
principal of the Denman School of San Francisco and worked as City Superintendent
of Schools, where he was a strong advocate for reform. Tait resigned after a brief
time to devote his attention to his private business, but was soon conscripted by
friends to organize the schools in Oakland and would spend the remainder of this life
affiliated with education.
William T. Lucky, Principal (May 1868 – August 1873)
Born April 24, 1821 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, William T. Lucky received his A.B. and M.A. degrees from McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois, and became a minister of the Methodist Church. Upon arrival in California, he accepted a position as president of the Pacific Methodist College. After successfully building up PMC, he became principal of the State Normal School. He was instrumental in selecting the new location for the Normal School outside of San Francisco and served as principal when the school moved to San Jose in 1871.
Charles H. Allen, Principal (1873-89)
Born in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, in 1828, Allen taught and had leadership roles in
education in New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Oregon before settling in San
Jose. Poor health necessitated numerous breaks from working in education. During those
times, he worked as a land surveyor, an expert cutler and, after retiring from education,
was assistant postmaster in San Jose until his death.
Charles Childs, Principal (1889 – 1896)
Charles Childs was born in Geneseo, New York, and spent his youth in Wisconsin before
briefly serving in the army. He had been teaching in California for several years
when he began his studies at the Normal School. His reputation as a successful administrator
in high schools and as Solano County Superintendent of Schools led to his appointment
as principal of the Normal School. He was the first Normal School graduate to become
principal. During his administration, the school saw the adoption of a new grading
system, advances in manual training courses and an increase in athletics—including
the formation of a football team. After stepping down as principal, he remained on
the faculty for several years and was then elected president of the California State
Teachers Association in 1898.
Ambrose Randall, Principal (1896 -1899)
Ambrose Randall was born and educated in Maine, where he attended Maine Wesleyan College.
He taught in Stockton and Santa Cruz before he became a member of the San Jose State
Normal School faculty in 1884. In addition to teaching physics and geometry, Randall
saw the successful development of the new four-year teacher preparation course; improvements
to the zoology, botany, physiology and chemistry laboratories; and the construction
of nine tennis courts, three handball courts and an open-air gymnasium for basketball
and other sports.
James McNaughton, President (1899 -1900)
James McNaughton was born in Sinclairville, New York, earned his A.B—with highest
honors in Latin and mathematics—at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, and studied
law at the University of Michigan. He continued his studies and received master’s
degrees from both Allegheny College and Illinois Wesleyan University. He and his wife
taught in Minnesota, North Dakota and Arizona before finally moving to California.
Although McNaughton’s presidency was fraught with scandal due to a local political
battle, he made improvements during his short time at the Normal School and foresaw
the advantages of a summer session.
Morris Elmer Dailey, President (1900-1918)
With an auditorium named for him, Morris E. Dailey is well known for his leadership
during three crises—an earthquake, a war and an influenza epidemic. Born in Booneville,
Indiana, Dailey earned his A.B. degree at Simpson College in Indiana and a B.S. degree
at Drake University. After teaching at the Normal School for a year, he earned a master’s
degree from Indiana University. Following McNaughton’s lead, Dailey established the
first summer session. In addition, he advocated the high school graduation standard
for admission and reformed faculty employment policy, allowing more permanent faculty
employment and opportunities for advanced study.
Lewis Ben Wilson, Acting President (1919-1920)
Lewis Ben Wilson had served as vice president during the Dailey administration and
during the 1906 earthquake crisis. The Pennsylvania-born president graduated from
the Normal School but had no college degrees, although he studied at Stanford and
the University of California.
William Webb Kemp, President (1920-1923)
Born in Placerville, California, and educated at Stanford University, Kemp was the
first Californian to serve as president. During his administration, the Normal School
implemented the A.B. degree, obtained accreditation for its junior college course
from the University of California, and established a student bookstore. Kemp improved
the training schools and summer sessions, and introduced a number of new courses into
the regular college curriculum.
Alexander Richard Heron, Acting President, (July – September 1923)
Canadian-born Alexander Richard Heron received a B.S. degree from Southwestern University
in Los Angeles. During his brief stint, summer enrollment reached a record high of
620. Later, during WWII, he was appointed colonel and served as head of the civilian
branch of the army’s supply services in Washington, D.C.
Edwin Reagan Snyder, President (1923-1925)
Born in Pennsylvania in 1872, Edwin Reagan Snyder grew up on his father’s farm before
attending Colorado State Normal School at Greeley. He worked as principal at a few
schools in Colorado before moving to California in 1900. Snyder received a bachelor’s
degree from Stanford University and continued there as a special lecturer and with
graduate studies. He held several positions in Fresno and Santa Barbara schools before
accepting the presidency at San Jose State Teachers College. Snyder was an educational
visionary who saw beyond the college’s immediate needs and challenged the state’s
accepted educational concepts. He died unexpectedly in January 1925.
Herman F. Minssen, Acting President (1925-1927)
Herman F. Minssen graduated from De Kalb State Teachers College prior to coming to
California. His excellent reputation as vice president made him the obvious candidate
for president after Snyder’s untimely death. During Minssen’s term as acting president,
the state Board of Education authorized the college to grant bachelor’s degrees in
four new education fields—art, home making, industrial arts and music.
Thomas William MacQuarrie, President (1927-1952)
Thomas William MacQuarrie's most significant contributions were the expansion of the
physical plant and the curriculum. Many buildings were constructed and acquired, including
the women's gymnasium, education building, men's gymnasium, the stadium, science building,
library building, Memorial Chapel, and the old city library was converted into the
first student union. At the time of his retirement, the music and engineering buildings
were under construction and contracts for the speech and drama buildings were finalized.
He combined the junior college and teachers college courses to offer more types of
degrees. In addition, he initiated a student teaching program and abolished the training
school. Born in Ontario in 1879, he and his family moved to Wisconsin where he attended
the State Normal School in Superior. During World War I, he served with the rank of
major in France. After the war, he earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees
from Stanford University and taught at the University of Southern California before
becoming president of San Jose State Teachers College.
John T. Wahlquist, President (1952-1964)
Born in Utah in 1899, John T. Wahlquist completed high school at Brigham Young University's
preparatory school, and earned his bachelor's degree, secondary teaching credential,
school administrative credential and M.S. in educational administration at the University
of Utah, and a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 1930. Wahlquist established
general education course requirements, promoted graduate programs, and established
summer institutes, community business workshops and federally-sponsored endeavors,
namely the Peace Corps training program -- a ten-week specialized course that brought
students from around the country.
Robert D. Clark, President (1964 -1969)
Robert D. Clark was the first president screened and nominated by a representative
faculty group. Born in Nebraska in 1910, he taught at Pasadena College after graduation
while working on his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Southern California.
“Clark envisioned his task as one of continuously improving the quality of the institution
and making it more responsive to the intellectual needs and aspirations of the student
body” (Gilbert and Burdick, 171). Despite the unrest and violence of the 1960s, Clark
contributed much to the curriculum and set an example for mutual cooperation and community
Hobert W. Burns, Acting President (1969-1970)
Hobert W. Burns was born in Los Angeles in 1925 and attended various schools in San
Francisco. While serving in the Coast Guard, he perfected various clerical skills
and performed on the base athletic teams, winning several boxing titles. After leaving
the service, he engaged in radio and newspaper work until he was recruited for basketball
by Stanford University, where he earned all of his degrees—but never played sports.
Burns taught at Rutgers University, Syracuse University and Hofstra University before
coming to San Jose State. With the Vietnam War as a backdrop, he fought for university
status for SJSC and confronted registration problems.
John H. Bunzel, President (1970-1978)
Born in New York City in 1924, John H. Bunzel entered Princeton University in 1942
and enlisted in the Army at age 19. He returned to Princeton after serving three years
and graduated magna cum laude in 1948. He later earned an M.A. from Columbia University
and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. Bunzel taught at San Francisco State College, Michigan
State University in East Lansing and Stanford University before coming to San Jose
State College. During his administration, San Jose State College became San Jose State
University. Bunzel appointed more women in high administrative posts than any other
CSU. He beautified the campus; expanded the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories; saw
the construction of the amphitheatre and the opening of the Steinbeck Center and Nuclear
Science Facility; and programs in Religious Studies, Jewish Studies and Women’s Studies
Gail Fullerton, President (1978-1991)
Gail Fullerton was the first woman to serve as president and the first faculty member
to be promoted to the presidency since Morris E. Dailey in 1900. Born in Lincoln,
Nebraska, she attended University of Nebraska for both her bachelor’s and master’s
degrees. After receiving her doctorate from University of Oregon in 1954, Fullerton
taught at Drake University and Florida State University before accepting a teaching
position at San Jose State. She worked to improve Spartan athletics and the graduation
rate of student athletes, while battling criticism from the boosters and university
athletics. Despite limited resources, Fullerton’s administration made remarkable strides
in physical development, including a new engineering complex, event center, expanded
Spartan Stadium, and made steps toward closing San Carlos Street.
J. Handel Evans, Acting President (1991-1994)
As Gail Fullerton’s vice president, J. Handel Evans was already familiar with the
university when he assumed the position of acting president in 1991. During the Evans
administration, San Jose State achieved accreditation by the Western Association of
Schools and Colleges (WASC). In the midst of a failed national search for a new president,
Evans and the CSU Chancellor’s Office began to plan the development of Fort Ord, a
former military base, into a new campus—California State University, Monterey Bay.
Robert L. Caret, President (1995 - 2003)
A gregarious, well published chemist who had held positions in every level of administration
except president, Robert Caret infused the university with a sense of pride and forward
momentum. Caret came to San Jose State from Towson State University in Maryland and
brought a vision for SJSU as the metropolitan university of Silicon Valley. Among
his contributions to the university was the initiation of a partnership with the city
to create the jointly designed, constructed and managed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Joseph N. Crowley, Interim President (2003-2004)
An Iowa native, Joseph N. Crowley spent four years in the U.S. Air Force, while attending
the University of Maryland overseas program. He continued his education, receiving
his bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa, master’s degree from California
State University, Fresno, and doctorate from the University of Washington. Crowley
served as University of Nevada, Reno president from 1978 to 2001. Crowley formally
retired in January 2003, but served for a year as interim president of San Jose State
University. He identified the university’s decentralization as an obstacle to progress,
and established greater transparency in budget planning.
Paul Yu, President (Summer 2004)
Paul Yu, former president of the State University of New York College at Brockport,
resigned the presidency of San Jose State just three weeks after taking office. Yu,
who left for health reasons, returned with his family to New York and took a position
with his former employer, the State University of New York.
Jon Whitmore, President (August 2008 - July 2010)
Jon Whitmore was president of Texas Tech University for five years, where he also
held a professorship in theatre. From 1996 to 2003, he served as provost and professor
of theatre arts at the University of Iowa, and was dean of the College of Fine Arts
at the University of Texas at Austin from 1990 to 1996. Before that he served as dean,
Faculty of Arts and Letters, and as a professor of theatre at the State University
of New York at Buffalo. Whitmore was affiliated with West Virginia University from
1974 to 1985, where he served as interim dean for the College of Creative Arts, interim
director of the Creative Arts Center, faculty member, and assistant to the president.
He holds a doctoral degree in theatre history from the University of California, Santa
Barbara, and master's and bachelor's degrees in speech from Washington State University.
Don W. Kassing, President (May 2005 - June 2008), Interim President (August 2004 - April 2005, August 2010 - July 2011)
Don W. Kassing moved the university forward in several key areas. Under his leadership,
the campus made strides in private fundraising with gifts leading to the naming of
the Donald and Sally Lucas Graduate School of Business, the Charles W. Davidson College
of Engineering and the Connie Lurie College of Education. As president and in his
former role as vice president for administration and finance, Kassing led the development,
construction and successful opening of two major campus facilities: the award-winning
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and Campus Village. Kassing earned his M.B.A.
and B.S. in Economics from St. Louis University.
Mohammad Qayoumi, President (August 2011 - August 2015)
Before his arrival to SJSU in 2011, Qayoumi served as president of Cal State East Bay since 2006. He came to Cal State East Bay from Cal State Northridge, where he served as vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer from 2000 until 2006, and was also a tenured professor of engineering management. Previously, Qayoumi served as associate vice president for administration at San Jose; director of utilities and engineering services, director of technical services, and staff engineer, University of Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition, Qayoumi served as an engineer on a variety of projects in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Susan W. Martin, Interim President (August 2015 - June 2016)
Susan W. Martin joined San Jose State University as interim president August 18, 2015 after serving for the previous seven years as president of Eastern Michigan University. Martin earlier served as provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she was involved in allocating budgetary resources, increasing enrollment and faculty support. Martin has a doctorate and an MBA in accounting from Michigan State University, and a bachelor’s degree in public speaking from Central Michigan University.
Mary A. Papazian, President (July 2016 - Present)
Mary A. Papazian joined San Jose State University on July 1, 2016 as president. A seasoned higher education leader with more than 25 years of teaching and administrative experience, Papazian served as president of Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) from 2012 to 2016. Prior to that, Papazian was the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the Lehman College of The City University of New York (CCNY). Born and raised in Southern California, Papazian holds a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Visit the president's website.