Cal State East Bay History

Cal State East Bay has come a long way in the last 60+ years — it’s had six presidents, gone by five different names and produced thousands of graduates who have entered the region’s workforce.

The university was originally named the State College for Alameda County when it was officially established by the California State Assembly in 1957. The first academic year began in 1959 at Sunset High School in Cherryland with 25 faculty and 293 students. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the current Hayward Campus were held in February 1961 and the college moved to its permanent location in Fall 1963. 

A pioneering spirit pervaded campus in the idealistic months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, born of identification with Kennedy’s New Frontier programs. Hence the student body chose to call themselves Pioneers, and the first Pioneer mascot was an astronaut from NASA's Pioneer Space Program. 

The campus expansions of the 1960s came to fruition in the early 1970s with several new buildings opening, including the Library and Administration buildings, the University Theatre and Robinson Hall in 1971, and the Student Health Center in 1973. Pioneer Heights, the first university-owned student housing on campus, opened its doors in 1987. Accommodating 400 students, Pioneer Heights would challenge the reputation of our university as a "commuter school" and provide a new nucleus of student life on campus.

The university expanded its reach to Contra Costa County in 1992, opening a branch in Concord.

The university changed its name to California State University, East Bay in 2005 to reflect its new regional positioning. The university’s three locations — named the Hayward campus, the Concord Center and the Oakland Center — reinforced the regional influence of the university.

In the mid-2000’s, new construction blossomed on the Hayward campus for the first time since the late 1960s and early 1970s. Due to seismic vulnerability, Warren Hall, which had been the university’s signature building for decades, was demolished August 17, 2013.

As the university continues to grow, it is known in particular for its diversity. From 2015-2017, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Almanac designated the Cal State East Bay student body as the most diverse in the mainland United States.

* Information on the university’s history was provided from the library’s 60th Anniversary exhibit

Name history

The university has had five official names since it was chartered in 1957:

  • The State College for Alameda County — 1957–60
  • Alameda County State College — 1960–63
  • California State College at Hayward — 1963–72
  • California State University, Hayward — 1972–2005
  • California State University, East Bay — 2005–present

These changes reflected the university’s growth and evolution as part of the California State University system. The state legislature established the university in 1957, and its doors were first opened to 300 students in 1959 as the State College for Alameda County, informally referred to as Alameda State College. The name was officially changed two years later to Alameda County State College. The college moved to its current Hayward location in 1963 and was dedicated by Governor Edmund Brown on May 2, 1964 as California State College at Hayward. In 1972, the name of the state college system was changed and the campus became California State University, Hayward. On January 26, 2005, the Board of Trustees of the California State University changed the institution’s name to its current designation, California State University, East Bay to better reflect the university’s regional service to Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Presidential History

Portrait of Fred Harcleroad

Fred Harcleroad

Portrait of Ellis McCune

Ellis McCune

Portrait of Norma Rees

Norma Rees

Portrait of Mohammad Qayoumi

Mohammad H. Qayoumi

Portrait of Leroy Morishita

Leroy M. Morishita

Cathy Sandeen

Cathy Sandeen