CSU Board of Trustees announces new Chico State President Stephen Perez


Future Chico State president, Stephen Perez, poses with Willie the Wildcat during Giving Day. Courtesy: Jason Halley/University Photography

The California State University Board of Trustees, on May 24, announced Stephen Perez, the current interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, as Chico State’s new president.

In a Chico State and CSU Board of Trustees press release, Perez said during his time at Chico State he has been taken by the “Chico Experience,” and found a deep respect for its culture and natural environment.

“Chico State is the North State’s educational center, and I will work energetically to strengthen partnerships across the University and region that will allow us to reach new heights as a student-centered, college-town institution that changes lives and connects us all,” Perez said.

For 20 years Perez, who has a Ph.D. in economics, served in multiple roles at Sacramento State. In Jan. 2022, he became the interim president at San José State, and from there he stepped into his roles at Chico State.

During his time at Chico State he acted as president of Chico State Enterprises, a Research Integrity official and co-led the Enrollment Continuum workgroup. He also helped lead the enrollment continuum effort and closed a $20 million budget gap. 

He also worked at Virginia Commonwealth University and Washington State University.

This decision was made in conjunction, according to CSU policy, by the CSU Board of Trustees and the following committees appointed by Wenda Fong, the chair of the CSU trustees:

  • Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President
  • Advisory Committee to the Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President

CSU Trustee Lillian Kimbell, chair of the Chico State Presidential Search Committee, said Perez’s leadership experience and dedication to student success and excellence will boost “Chico State’s legacy.”

In a Chico State Today article published in January on Perez’s new presence at Chico State, Hutchinson said, “Having worked with Dr. Perez within the CSU, I have seen first-hand his ability to successfully lead and guide CSU campuses” as the interim provost.

Perez’s role as president will include, but is not limited to, overseeing strategic planning, academic programming, enrollment management, and will be the “Chief executive, academic, and administrative leader for the Chico State campus,” according to the Search for the President of California State University, Chico pamphlet. 

A search for the new president started after Perez’s predecessor, Gayle Hutchinson, announced her retirement in Oct. 2022. Perez will be Chico State’s 13th president since its doors opened in 1889. His first official day in office will be July 1.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].