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History of California State University, Bakersfield

Companion to the HRC exhibit

Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, 2018-present

President Lynnette Zelezny

On July 1, 2018, Dr. Lynnette Zelezny became the fifth president of California State University, Bakersfield. Dr. Zelezny is the first woman to serve in the role. In another first, she tipped the gender of campus presidents in the twenty-three campus CSU system to majority female when she was appointed. Born in Texas, president Zelezny received her undergraduate education at Humboldt State University and her doctorate in social psychology at Claremont. She also earned an MBA at CSU, Fresno.

Dr. Zelezny took the leadership role at CSUB after four years as provost at CSU, Fresno. During her thirty-year career at Fresno, she also served as associate provost, Dean and Associate Vice President for the Division of Continuing and Global Education, Associate Dean for the Craig School of Business, and Chair of the Psychology Department, where she was also a lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor. She has served as a visiting professor in Sweden and was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. She was nominated as teacher of the year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 

Since arriving at CSUB, the Zelezny administration has moved the campus forward rapidly. She has built new ties with Bakersfield College which established its own southwest campus on the grounds of CSUB. The program will expand the number of well prepared transfer students coming to CSUB. Dr. Zelezny is a strong advocate for first generation college students and the student population has grown under her leadership.

Dr. Horace Mitchell, 2004-2018

Dr. Horace Mitchell

Dr. Horace Mitchell became the fourth President of California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) in July 2004, after thirty-six years of experience in higher education. Under Dr. Mitchell’s leadership, the University is entering a period of rapid development, with a vision to extend the excellence and diversity of the faculty and academic programs, enhance the quality of the student experience, and strengthen community engagement.

Dr. Mitchell came to his current position from the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services, and affiliated professor, African American Studies. Prior to that, he served as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at UC Irvine.

Dr. Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in counseling, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, all from Washington University in St. Louis. He began his professional career at his alma mater in 1968.Dr. Mitchell’s professional memberships include the American Association for Higher Education, the American Council on Education, the American Psychological Association, and the Association of Black Psychologists. He has been recognized widely for his many years of community service by civic, non-profit, governmental, educational, and professional organizations. Dr. Mitchell’s teaching and research interests are in the areas of multicultural psychology and psychological assessment. Dr. Mitchell helped imitate CSUB’s transfer into the semester system and move the men’s basketball team from Division II to Division I. Dr. Mitchell retired in Spring of 2018.

Dr. Tomás Arciniega, 1983-2004

Dr. Tomas Arciniega

Dr. Tomas Arciniega was named president of California State College, Bakersfield, in 1983. He was its longest serving president, with 21 years at the helm. At the time of his appointment, he one of only seven people of Latino origin to ever have served as a university president. Born within ten miles of the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, he has been a life-long advocate for underrepresented and first-generation students.

Dr. Arciniega played college football at New Mexico State University and was a minor league baseball player before earning his doctorate at the University of New Mexico in educational administration in 1965. Dr. Arciniega worked internationally for the US government in Latin America and the Caribbean in the late 1960s, before entering academia as a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. He served as a dean at both UTEP and the University of California, San Diego, and was later the Provost at CSU Fresno.

During Dr. Arciniega's tenure as president, CSUB's student population more than doubled, the basketball team won a national championship, and the campus formally transitioned from a college to a university. Many programs and policies that encouraged Latino students to attend CSUB were instituted while he was president. He retired in 2004.

Dr. Jacob P. Frankel, 1974-1983

Dr. Jacob P. Frankel

Dr. Jacob Porter Frankel was named California State College, Bakersfield's second president in 197 4. A veteran of World War II, Dr. Frankel earned a doctorate from UCLA in engineering in 1951, with an emphasis on industrial development and metallurgy. Dr. Frankel helped establish the Engineering Executive Master's program at UCLA in 1955. He worked at Dartmouth in 1966 and subsequently took a position as Associate Dean of the Thayer School of Engineering at Harvey Mudd College at the Claremont Colleges in Southern California in 1968.

At CSB, Dr. Frankel advocated cross-disciplinary approaches and, in 1978, he combined the humanities and the sciences into a single school in an effort to reduce administration costs. At that time, the CSU Chancellor's Office viewed CSB as top-heavy, with too many administrators and too few students. The merging of humanities and sciences into a single school was an effort at consolidation. Dr. Frankel retired in the spring of 1983.

After retirement, Frankel moved from academia to acting. Frankel had a six-minute feature as a professor in a 1986 horror movie and acted in several other films. While he did not receive awards for his acting, Frankel enjoyed an acting career for almost 30 years after an almost 40-year academic career. His last feature in a film was in 2010.

Dr. Paul F. Romberg, Founding President Served Until 1973

Dr. Paul F. Romberg

Paul F. Romberg, the founding president of California State College, Bakersfield, arrived in the community in September, 1967. Working out of temporary offices on California Avenue, he and his initial planning team oversaw the construction of the campus, developed programs, ordered books, and hired faculty. Starting from an open field on Stockdale Highway, where then Governor Ronald Regan turned the first shovel of dirt, the new campus was constructed and ready to open in October, 1970.

Paul F. Romberg graduated from the Univer­sity of Nebraska with a degree in Microbiology and later took a teaching position at Wabash College. In 1961, Romberg began his academic career in California as an administrator in positions such as Dean of Instruction, Vice-President of Academic Affairs, and Division Chairman of the Applied Arts and Sciences at Chico State College. Romberg was Dean of instruction at Chico State and before coming to Bakersfield, he was appointed Vice-President of Academic Affairs of the Applied Arts and Sciences Department at Chico. In 1967, Romberg was appointed President of what eventually be­came CSU, Bakersfield. In 1973, Romberg was appointed the thirteenth president of San Francisco State University, and during this time Romberg oversaw the construction of two Science Complex buildings. Dr. Romberg was an active advocate for education for all regardless of background.