California State University, San Bernardino was born on April 29, 1960, when legislation was enacted to found San Bernardino-Riverside State College. The California State College system's board of trustees selected a 430-acre site in north San Bernardino in 1963 to build the campus, and the college's official name was changed to California State College at San Bernardino.
The original three-building campus opened to its first 293 students in 1965 under the leadership of founding President John Pfau, who was appointed to the position in 1962 and set the stage for the opening of the college.
In 1967, California State College, San Bernardino celebrated its first graduating class of 59 students.
The original three-building campus added a five-story library in 1970 and its first dormitories in 1972. Growth and building continued on the campus with the addition of the student union and children's center.
The San Bernardino campus welcomed its second president in 1982, Anthony H. Evans.
The state colleges system changed its designation in 1972, becoming "The California State University and Colleges" system. After having met criteria established by the board of trustees and the Coordinating Council for Higher Education, 14 campuses were designated as "universities," while five campuses remain "colleges." The San Bernardino campus earned university status in 1984, officially becoming California State University, San Bernardino.
That same year, 1984, the university began participating in intercollegiate sports for the first time.
Throughout the 1990s and into the new century, the campus expanded with new, modern facilities. Jack H. Brown Hall opened in 1993, followed by the Yasuda Center for Extended Learning. Coussoulis Arena, the largest indoor venue in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and the Robert V. Fullerton Art Museum, home to an outstanding visual arts collection, are among the most notable buildings on campus.
In 1997, Albert K. Karnig took the reins as the university's third president. In the summer of 2001, the university began offering a year-round schedule of classes at the same cost as school-year classes. In December of that year, CSUSB held its first winter commencement. In 2005, the university added 11.5 acres to its size with the acquisition of property across the street from the campus for an additional student housing apartment complex.
President Karnig created the President's Academic Excellence Scholarships in 2002, attracting hundreds of the top 1 percent of San Bernardino County high school students to attend CSUSB since the scholarship's inception.
The university opened the satellite campus Coachella Valley Center in 1986 on the grounds of the College of the Desert in Palm Desert. The first building of a permanent campus opened in Palm Desert in 2002, and expansion continues at what is now known as the Cal State San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus. Today, the campus features four buildings, all built entirely without state funds with more than $40 million raised from foundations, municipalities and private gifts.
During the Karnig presidency, the campus constructed or expanded more than 1.5 million square feet of facilities, including the education building, social and behavioral sciences, chemical sciences, several corporation yard facilities, the enlarged student union, expanded health center, the student recreation and fitness center, two parking structures, and three new apartment complexes to accommodate 1,500 students, a new nursing laboratory, a privately funded water conservation demonstration garden, the privately funded Murillo Family astronomical observatory, and the Veterans Success Center.
During the first decade of the 2000s, CSUSB achieved records in enrollment, diversity of faculty and students, grant and contract funding, overhead funds, fundraising and international program development.
During that time the university developed more than a dozen highly active research and service centers over the past 15 years, including Watson and Associates Literacy Center, the William and Barbara Leonard Transportation Center, Inland Empire Entrepreneurship Center, Palm Springs Center for a Sustainable Environment and others focused on issues as diverse as water, economics education, developmental disabilities, global economics, hate and extremism, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, child development, indigenous peoples, health disparities, criminal justice, learning, public opinion, recidivism, and many more.
The 2010-2011 data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment – employed by hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation to test freshmen students and seniors – to serve as an evaluation of value added by a college education – reported that Cal State San Bernardino ranks at the 96th percentile – or top 4 percent – in the nation.
By 2011, the university's first-to-second year student retention rates reached record levels, as nearly 90 percent of all CSUSB first-time freshman students returned to the university – a level that is among the three best in the 23-campus California State University system. Cal State San Bernardino also is among the leading CSU schools in retaining African American and Latino students.
Cal State San Bernardino has continued to improve its national rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Forbes and the Princeton Review. The university is annually named to the President's Community Service Honor Roll, and it was one of just five recipients of The Washington Center's prestigious 2012 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award.
In 2012, CSUSB was one of only four U.S. institutions and 18 in the world designated as Most Innovative Business Colleges by European CEO Magazine. In 2012, The Chronicle of Higher Education named CSUSB as one of the nation's "Best Colleges to Work For."
"Sierra" magazine named CSUSB as one of "America's Coolest Schools" as a reflection of leadership in the area of sustainability. And StateUniversity.com ranked CSUSB as the second safest among 33 public college and university campuses in California. The university also gained recognition as a "Military Friendly School" and a Top 200 College for Native Americans.
The Carnegie Foundation named biology professor Stuart Sumida the 2011 California Professor of the Year and one of only 27 professors so highly honored nationally.
President Karnig retired in 2012 and was succeeded by Tomás D. Morales, who was previously president at the College of Staten Island, the City University of New York, before becoming Cal State San Bernardino's fourth president on Aug. 15, 2012.