Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson began her tenure as San José State University’s 31st president, and first Latina president, on January 16, 2023. Formerly the president of Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Dr. Teniente-Matson brings more than 30 years of higher education experience to SJSU, with stops in Alaska, Texas, and California. This is a return to the CSU system for Dr. Teniente-Matson, who served as Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer at California State University, Fresno from 2004 to 2015. Dr. Teniente-Matson has been recognized world-wide and nationally for her leadership and service and serves on numerous national educational-governing and local civic boards. Dr. Teniente-Matson earned her Bachelor of Arts in Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, her Master of Business Administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from California State University, Fresno.
Stephen Perez, Interim President (January 2022 - January 2023)
As Interim President, Stephen Perez assumed leadership of San José State University on January 3, 2022. Perez previously served as provost and vice president of Academic Affairs and professor of economics at California State University, Sacramento. In that role, he provided leadership and support for the Division of Academic Affairs including, faculty and staff in all colleges, the University Library, and for several offices that support students, faculty and staff, and the Sacramento region. He has taught macroeconomics at all levels as well as econometrics, sports economics, labor economics and mathematics for economists.
Mary A. Papazian began her tenure as San José State University’s 30th president on July 1, 2016, and stepped away on Dec. 21, 2021. 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Library.
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.
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.
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 were established.
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.
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 relations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.