President Richard R. Rush at Commencement

  • CI Bell Tower building
  • President Rush with original faculty
  • John Spoor Broome and family
  • President Rush with students and community members
  • President and Jane Rush
  • The Martin V. and Martha K. Smith family
  • President Rush with former CI student leaders, Student Union grand opening/dedication
  • Robert J. and Norma Lagomarsino
  • President Rush with Cottage Health System CEO Ron Werft

When Richard R. Rush assumed the role of founding president for CI, he knew he was in for a great adventure.

The challenge was formidable: start a public university from scratch with minimal state funding and inadequate facilities. It included renovating dilapidated buildings  —  a daunting task in and of itself. However, this was just the beginning. President Rush knew he would take on much more.

He wanted to create a new type of university  —  one that would address the community’s deepest needs, embrace and nurture each student on his or her academic journey, and model values associated with respect, diversity and public service. These elements are the foundation of CI’s mission pillars and will remain part of the University forever.

The milestones included here represent only a fraction of CI’s many accomplishments. Chief among them is accreditation. CI received rapid accreditation and reaccreditation for the maximum periods  —  a strong show of confidence in a young university. Not included among the milestones are President Rush’s many awards. The ones that touch him most are being named Statewide President of the Year twice by the California State Student Association and receiving honorary membership in CI’s Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society.

President Rush leaves an indelible mark  —  from his dedication to putting students first, supporting underserved populations, and striving for innovation to his direct participation in hiring faculty and staff, and his role in building partnerships that facilitated expansion and prosperity. The newest campus in the CSU system, CI is the nation’s fastest-growing public university, offering degrees up to a master’s, and recently received accreditation for its first doctoral program in educational leadership.

That said, President Rush is quick to credit those around him. “I am awed by the accomplishments of our students, the dedication of our faculty and administrative staff, and the support of our community,” he said. “It has been my honor to serve with you.”



  • Richard R. Rush assumes his duties as university president and hires the first 13 planning faculty members


  • Academic Master Plan approved
  • Inauguration ceremonies held for President Rush
  • Opening ceremonies held for the University and first 250 transfer students begin classes


  • Inaugural Commencement ceremony with three graduates Inaugural freshmen begin classes
  • Grand opening/dedication of new science building, Aliso Hall


  • Undergraduate degrees approved in Chemistry, Economics, History, and Psychology; Master’s degrees approved in Biotechnology/Bioinformatics, Business and Education
  • Grand opening/dedication of Anacapa Village, first on-campus student housing


  • First honorary doctorate degrees presented to John Spoor Broome and Robert J. Lagomarsino
  • Groundbreaking ceremony for the John Spoor Broome Library


  • Naming of first school: the Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics
  • First group of master’s students graduates
  • Prop 1D is approved, allocating $62 million for campus improvement projects


  • Inaugural freshman class graduates
  • WASC accreditation granted for the maximum of seven years
  • Grand opening/dedication of student on-campus housing, Santa Cruz Village
  • Nursing program launches with first 66 students


  • Grand opening/dedication of the John Spoor Broome Library
  • Land swap agreement adds another 153 acres to the University


  • Grand opening/dedication of the Martin V. Smith Center for Integrative Decision-Making
  • County of Ventura transfers 360 acres of adjacent land to the University
  • CI introduces new formal and spirit logos


  • Launch of the California Institute for Social Business
  • Grand opening/dedication of new Student Union
  • U.S. Department of Education designates CI as a Hispanic Serving Institution
  • CI named “Great College to Work For” by The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Groundbreaking ceremony for Del Norte & Madera Halls
  • Launch of the Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo Institute for Workforce & Community Studies
  • Groundbreaking ceremony for new entrance road


  • Launch of the Institute for Global Economic Research
  • WASC approves undergraduate and graduate business degree programs in Santa Barbara
  • Honorary doctorate degree presented to Jack O’Connell
  • Robert J. Lagomarsino Award presented to Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Foundation and Smith Family
  • CI awarded a $6 million federal grant to encourage students in science and math


  • University celebrates 10th anniversary
  • CI establishes partnership with National Park Service for Undergraduate Research Station on Santa Rosa Island
  • CI and Cottage Hospital launch Santa Barbara County’s first bachelor’s degree in nursing program
  • Dedication of new entrance road, University Drive
  • Honorary doctorate degrees presented to Hank Lacayo and Kathy Ireland


  • Arbor Day Foundation honors CI with “Tree Campus USA” designation
  • CI receives keys to Channel Islands Boating Center
  • Springs Fire prompts campus evacuation and two-day closure
  • Honorary doctorate degree presented to Ronald Reagan biographer Lou Cannon


  • Groundbreaking ceremony held for new science/lab facility, Sierra Hall
  • Washington Monthly recognizes CI as a top “Bang for the Buck” university
  • CI breaks ground on Santa Rosa Village, student housing facility
  • University’s Four Mission Pillars Mortar Board honor society earns national award


  • CI receives WASC reaccreditation for nine additional years and approval for first doctoral program (Educational Leadership)
  • President Rush signs American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and CI is named a STARS Gold Institution by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
  • CI makes President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for fifth consecutive year
  • Honorary doctorate degree presented to William Kearney.
  • Grand opening/dedication of Sierra Hall, a three-story, 68,000 square-foot science building


  • CI receives $3.05 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to fund graduate student internships
  • CI’s 2025 Vision Plan earns the American Association of University Administrators John L. Blackburn Award


© Spring 2016 / Volume 20 / Number 01 / Bi-annual

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