Sac State Magazine is a publication produced by the Office of Advancement Communications and Stewardship at Cal State University, Sacramento highlighting alumni, students, faculty and staff.
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c sus .e du /s a c s t ate ma ga z in e | S pr i ng 2 015 17 "Getting to know President Gonzalez and his wife, Gloria, from the start, I could sense the passion they had for education and their commitment to providing a future for students," Guerra says. A look back and a peek at the future Alexander Gonzalez was born Sept. 14, 1945, the fourth of Altagracia and Guillermo Gonzalez' seven children. They lived in a two-bedroom house in East Los Angeles, surrounded by Armenian, Japanese, Anglo and Mexican families. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as young adults. His father worked as a baker. His mother, who never spoke English, raised her children and took in sewing for extra money. The Gonzalez children grew up speaking Spanish at home, but with the help of his older siblings, who learned English in school, young Alex was fluent in English by the time he started first grade. He went on to graduate from Garfield High School in 1963. In those days, young men from the neighborhood generally took jobs in manufacturing after high school because few had the opportunity to attend college. Gonzalez had taken college-prep classes and made good grades but, as a high school senior, he wasn't ready for college. He and a friend enlisted in the Air Force. Gonzalez served four years in the military, much of it in the Philippines. He was still in the Air Force when he met his sister's friend Gloria Martinez in Los Angeles. They would marry in 1971 and raise two sons, Alexander Jr. and Michael. Gloria Gonzalez has embraced the role of Sacramento State's first lady and her husband considers her his partner in the presidency. Once Gonzalez completed his military service, he enrolled at East Los Angeles College on the G.I. Bill, the first in his family to attend college. Before long, he transferred to Pomona College, where he became fascinated with psychology and IQ testing. He attended Harvard Law in the early 1970s, but couldn't see himself making the law his career, so he and his wife returned to California, and he earned his master's degree and doctorate in psychology from UC Santa Cruz. Gonzalez discovered his gift for leadership while in charge of his barracks during Air Force technical school. His love for higher education would make him a natural to become a university administrator, first as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Fresno State, and then as president of Cal State San Marcos before coming to Sacramento. "President Gonzalez has made an impact on many generations of college students across the state, especially those from underserved communities," says CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. "He has dedicated his professional life to the CSU." Former CSU Chancellor Charles Reed concurs: "What I really like about Alex's leadership is that he always put students first, and he engaged students," Reed says. "He built a great relationship with the community around Sacramento State but never forgot that his real purpose was the students' needs. Alex has always been willing to do what is right and what is best for students, even if he has to take heat for it." After he retires, Gonzalez plans on spending time with his family and friends, entertaining, and traveling. He also plans to return to Sacramento State as a faculty member, teaching about leadership. "I think Sac State is poised to get to the next level. I've set the foundation," Gonzalez says. "Our new Strategic Plan and Master Plan should be the blueprints to go forward. My legacy has never been the motivation. My motivation has been to do the best job I can to serve students and to make the CSU and this campus the best they can be. "Students come first. They're the reason we're all here." Continued from page 14 Education n Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University, 1982-1983 n Doctorate in psychology, UC Santa Cruz, 1979 n Master's degree in psychology, UC Santa Cruz, 1977 n Harvard Law School, 1972-74 n Bachelor's degree in history, Pomona College, 1972 Administrative experience n 2003-2015, President, Sacramento State n 1997-2003, President, Cal State San Marcos n 1991-1997, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Fresno State Teaching experience n 1979-1997, professor of psychology, Fresno State; awarded tenure in 1983 and served as chair of the Department of Psychology, 1987-1990 President Alexander Gonzalez: his education and career "I think Sac State is poised to get to the next level. I've set the foundation. Our new Strategic Plan and Master Plan should be the blueprints to go forward. My legacy has never been the motivation. My motivation has been to do the best job I can to serve students and to make the CSU and this campus the best they can be. Students come first. They're the reason we're all here." —President Alexander Gonzalez