The individual California State Colleges were brought together as a system by the Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960. In 1972 the system became the California State University and Colleges, and in 1982 the system became the California State University. Today the campuses of the CSU include comprehensive and polytechnic universities and, since July 1995, the California Maritime Academy, a specialized campus.
The oldest campus-San José State University-was founded in 1857 and became the first institution of public higher education in California. The newest--CSU Channel Islands--opened in fall 2002, with freshmen arriving in fall 2003.
Responsibility for the California State University is vested in the Board of Trustees, whose members are appointed by the Governor. The Trustees appoint the Chancellor, who is the chief executive officer of the system, and the Presidents, who are the chief executive officers of the respective campuses.
The Trustees, the Chancellor, and the Presidents develop systemwide policy, with implementation at the campus level taking place through broadly based consultative procedures. The Academic Senate of the California State University, made up of elected representatives of the faculty from each campus, recommends academic policy to the Board of Trustees through the Chancellor.
Academic excellence has been achieved by the California State University through a distinguished faculty whose primary responsibility is superior teaching. While each campus in the system has its own unique geographic and curricular character, all campuses, as multipurpose institutions, offer undergraduate and graduate instruction for professional and occupational goals as well as broad liberal education. All the campuses require for graduation a basic program of "General Education Requirements" regardless of the type of bachelor's degree or major field selected by the student.
The CSU offers more than 1,800 bachelor's and master's degree programs in some 240 subject areas. Many of these programs are offered so that students can complete all upper division and graduate requirements by part-time, late afternoon, and evening study. In addition, a variety of teaching and school service credential programs are available. A limited number of doctoral degrees are offered jointly with the University of California and with private institutions in California. In 2005, the CSU was authorized to independently offer educational doctorate (Ed.D.) programs, and seven CSU campuses launched their Ed.D. programs in fall 2007.
Enrollments in fall 2005 totaled 417,000 students, who were taught by some 23,000 faculty. The system awards about half of the bachelor's degrees and a third of the master's degrees granted in California. Nearly 2.5 million persons have been graduated from CSU campuses since 1961.