Ronald Rochon appointed as new Cal State Fullerton president

Ronald Rochon will serve as the ninth president in Cal State Fullerton's history.
Ronald Rochon will serve as the ninth president in Cal State Fullerton’s history
(Courtesy Cal State Fullerton)

Ronald Rochon will lead Cal State Fullerton, the biggest university in the Cal State system, as its next president.

The California State University Board of Trustees announced the appointment during its May 22 meeting.

“Dr. Rochon is a champion of student success, access and inclusion and educational equity,” said Wenda Fong, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, during the meeting.


Rochon comes to CSUF from the University of Southern Indiana, where he currently serves as president. He will officially become the local university’s ninth president on July 22.

A $5-million grant from CalOptima Health will help provide stipends to Cal State Fullerton nursing students while bolstering existing programs.

May 16, 2024

“I am honored to join the Titan community and excited to work alongside the university’s talented faculty and staff to further support the success of its dynamic and diverse student body,” Rochon said in a statement. “I look forward to collaborating on strategies that will continue to strengthen Cal State Fullerton’s position as an intellectual and cultural catalyst in Southern California and advance its key role in workforce and economic development for the region.”

Rochon will succeed Sylvia Alva, who has served as the university’s interim president since August 2023.

Fong expressed gratitude at the trustees meeting for Alva’s “ideal” leadership during a period of transition at the university. Alva served after the retirement of previous CSUF president Framroze Virjee.

As a first-generation student, Rochon gained degrees at Tuskegee University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His doctoral research focused on educational policy studies, emphasizing educational history and policy analysis.

Rochon thanked the University of Southern Indiana community in a note sent out on Wednesday calling the past 14 years he served as provost and president “among the greatest honors” of his life.

The university he is poised to lead is a campus that will remain in an administrative period of transition in many ways as several key posts in his cabinet, including a trio of vice presidents, are filled on an interim basis.

“It’s not all the time that a president comes in and actually has tabula rasa,” said Matthew Jarvis, a political science professor at the university. “He will need to start some searches for these positions, or at least have plans for them relatively soon.”

While enrollment is declining across the Cal State system since the pandemic, CSUF‘s share of students has actually increased.

More than 41,000 students were enrolled this fall with about half being Latino. Like Rochon, 32% of the university’s students are first-generation students.

The Gaza war has heightened student activism across college campuses. While CSUF hasn’t seen pro-Palestinian encampment protests, there have been protest marches and calls for the university to divest from companies linked to Israel.

Among the 23 CSU schools, only a smattering of courses were taught on the first day of the term. A tentative contract deal has cut short the strike.

Jan. 22, 2024

Rochon will also begin his presidency with wounds still raw from a system-wide faculty strike that saw workers picketing at the Fullerton campus in January, in the rain. The California Faculty Assn. ratified a contract primarily concerned with wage increases, especially for adjunct professors, but labor peace isn’t assured.

“It can take a while to come back from the inflamed passions of a strike,” Jarvis said. “It does take skill to bridge the differences. President Rochon would have had an easier time if there had not been a strike coming in, if there wasn’t a war in Gaza, and if inflation was not high, he would have an easier time. But those were the cards that were dealt.”

Rochon will make $498,130 annually as president, a 4.6% increase in salary from the past interim president that the CSU Board of Trustees’ committee on university and faculty personnel approved during the May 22 meeting.

He will be required to reside at El Dorado Ranch, a historic two-story Spanish-style home owned by the university.

“Dr. Rochon is an innovative, results-driven and student-focused leader,” said Cal State University Chancellor Mildred Garcia, herself a former CSUF president, at the trustees meeting. “I have every confidence that he is the right person, right president at the right time for Cal State Fullerton.”