The university has had four presidents:
- Bill Stacy (1989-1997), who left to become chancellor of the Chattanooga campus of the University of Tennessee
- Alexander Gonzalez (1997-2003), previously the provost of the California State University, Fresno who left CSUSM to become president of the larger
- Roy McTarnaghan (2003-2004), interim president
- Karen S. Haynes, (2004-), former president of University
of Houston-Victoria, who joined CSUSM in February 2004
The university opened in 1990 with the 12 Founding Faculty. Today it has approximately 190 tenure-track and tenured faculty
out of a total of 980 employees.