President Richard R. Rush of California State University Channel Islands, announced Aug. 20 his intent to retire at the end of the 2015–16 academic year.
The announcement was made during his annual fall convocation address on campus. Rush is the campus’ inaugural president and has served for 15 years.
His career in higher education as a scholar and administrator spans more than 40 years, 31 of which have been spent at CSU campuses.
In his convocation address, Rush said, “I have been privileged to serve as the president of CSU Channel Islands and am honored, more than I can say, to have held in trust — for the once and future students and the good people of Ventura County and the region — this marvelous idea of a university.”
“Over the past 15 years, I have been honored to work with innovative faculty and staff, creative students, and engaged alumni. In addition, I am tremendously grateful for the support that the university has received from the community,” he said.
As the first president of CSU Channel Islands, Rush hired the faculty and senior administrative team, oversaw the creation and implementation of the university’s strategic, academic, fiscal and physical plant master plans, as well as the infrastructure, road improvements and the acquisition of land for campus expansion.
He also led the university’s efforts to achieve initial accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, as well as the most recent re-accreditation of the university.
“President Rush will forever be memorialized for his role in establishing and building the reputation of our newest campus,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “He is leaving a lasting and living legacy of academic excellence that has not only made CSU Channel Islands the campus of choice for graduating high school seniors and community college transfer students in Ventura County but also across the state.”
Rush built the academic program and helped the campus bring in more than $16.4 million in federal grants, expanding outreach and access to underserved students in the region.
During his tenure, the campus was also designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, (with more 25 percent of its students self-identifying as Latinos), making the campus eligible for federal funding.
One hallmark of his 15-year tenure as president is the number of strategic partnerships he forged to expand research opportunities for faculty and undergraduate students. Through his work with local community colleges and K-12 school districts, he has worked to support increased high school graduation and college admission rates.
Rush has also actively worked with the business community to ensure the relevancy of the curriculum and expand internships and service learning opportunities for students. He created a partnership with Cottage Hospital to offer the first bachelor’s degree of nursing program in Santa Barbara County.
With the Channel Islands National Park, he launched the Santa Rosa Island Research Station to expand undergraduate research across various academic disciplines.
In concert with a Nobel Peace prize laureate, he established the California Institute for Social Business to foster social enterprise efforts and expand service learning opportunities for undergraduate students.
Moreover, he has helped the campus garner nearly $49 million in contributions to support student scholarships, micro-grants for research and scholarly activity for faculty and academic programs.
Rush has been recognized for his leadership and character with many national and regional awards.
Beloved by students, Rush was twice named the President of the Year by the California State Student Association. He also received the President’s Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
“I credit President Rush’s character, charisma and passion for students and learning for the caring culture at CSU Channel Islands,” White said. “He has fostered a strong collegial spirit supported by a deep commitment to shared governance. His involvement in the community, coupled with the strategic partnerships that he has initiated and nurtured, will benefit many future generations of students.”
Within Ventura County, he has been lauded for his contributions to the community and vision.
He was named Educator of the Year by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, received the President’s Award from the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), earned the Distinguished Community Leader Award from the Ventura County Leadership Academy, was named to the Class of 25 over 50 by the Ventura County Star, earned the Dr. James F. Cowan Award of Excellence in Education from the Ventura County Economic Development Association, and was awarded the title of Honorary Base Commander for Naval Base Ventura County.
Rush came to CSU Channel Islands from Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he spent nine years as president. He was specially chosen to build the newest CSU campus given his experience — he played a key role in the founding of CSU San Marcos, where he served as the vice president-in-charge, and later as the executive vice president.
Prior to that time, he was a professor of English Literature, director and dean at San Diego State University, North County, which later became CSU San Marcos. He began his career in higher education at San Diego State, where he was an assistant and associate professor.
Rush holds a bachelor’s in classics, English and philosophy from Gonzaga University and a master’s in English literature, as well as a Ph.D. in English renaissance literature, from University of California, Los Angeles. He also attended the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.
In the coming months, the CSU Board of Trustees will begin a national search to select a new campus president.
— Toni Molle and Nancy Gill represent CSU Channel Islands.