SJSU's new president starts role after previous school leader resigned during investigation

She's the first president since previous leader resigned as US officials investigated school for sexual harassment allegations

Zach Fuentes Image
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Meet San Jose State University's new president
San Jose State University's new president starts in her role after the previous one resigned during the school's sexual harassment investigation.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose State University's new president is getting to work and with that comes stability for the school.

She's the first president since the previous leader resigned as federal officials investigated the school for sexual harassment allegations.

Now both the new president and the student body say they're ready for a new era.

Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson was announced as the new president in November of 2022, she started on the job January 16, 2023.

"I'm really proud to be leading the oldest university on the west," Dr. Teniente-Matson said, "A university with so much rich history and great alumni."

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Teniente-Matson comes to SJSU from Texas A&M University-San Antonio where she served as president.

Her new role at San Jose State marks a return to the CSU system, having served as a vice president at Fresno State for more than a decade between 2004 - 2015.

The new president saying she has big goals for SJSU especially as it continues to recover from the pandemic.

"What does education look like in 2023 and beyond?" the president said of the goals moving forward, "What are the degrees that we need to be offering? What are the experiences that students need to have?"

MORE: SJSU students rally for more protection against sexual assaults: 'We have not seen much change'

Teniente-Matson says continuing to grow San Jose State's enrollment will also be a priority along with affordable housing solutions for students and better connecting to the business and nonprofit worlds.

Since December of 2021 the university has had an interim president.

That's when former President Dr. Mary Papazian resigned in the wake of the sexual harassment investigation of the school by the Department of Justice and US Attorney's office.

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A dark time the university is still coping with.

"I'm meeting with students, talking with students and I think my predecessors have expressed deep sorrow and regret for what happened," Dr. Teniente-Matson said, "I wasn't here then, so my intent is to lead forward with the sole purpose and intention of ensuring every student is safe and secure, feels comfortable, reaching out for resources can share experiences. We've put a lot of practices in place to mitigate anything like this ever happening again."

We spoke with students about what they're hoping for in the new president, especially in the wake of the investigation. The one common ask is accessibility.

"Having that important face as being a president you kind of have to show your students that you're there with good intent," said SJSU student Yasmine Villas, "To kind of make sure that you're not letting things happen, like that sexual assault."

Student Naomi Ong adding:

"Making sure that she's easily accessible to everyone on campus is definitely really important and I hope that she's able to directly communicate that she will be ready for anyone."

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Teniente-Matson says she's ready to meet those needs.

"Look for me," she says to students, "Look for me on campus, reach out to me on social media, I look forward to connecting with you."

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