In memory of Albert K. Karnig
Office of Strategic Communication
Albert K. Karnig, 75, President Emeritus and third president of Cal State San Bernardino, passed away on May 4, 2017.
Born in 1942 in New York, he was very proud of his first generation status and Armenian heritage. He would tell stories of how he struggled in high school, watching many of his friends failing, until he decided to turn his own life around and pursued higher education with focus, energy and a commitment that would become familiar to all who interacted with him over the years. He believed that his background gave him a connection to the students at CSUSB, and the university along with its faculty, students and staff became his passion.
He earned a BA from Augustana College in Illinois. He also became a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a NDEA Fellow and a Kendric Babcock Fellow at the University of Illinois, where he received a MA and PhD (Political Science).
A highly gifted administrator and leader, his career in higher education began at Texas Tech (professor, Political Science); Arizona State University (Director, School of Public Affairs and, then, Associate Provost); University of Wyoming (Provost); and CSUSB (President). He served from 1997 until his retirement in 2012.
He built deep connections between the university and the surrounding community and ensured that CSUSB was viewed as firmly embedded in the city of San Bernardino as an anchor institution, particularly with city government and local business and non-profit organizations.
A select few of his achievements as president included: growing the university’s enrollment to new records; raising funds to realize the dream of a CSUSB campus in the Coachella Valley at Palm Desert and watching it built; addition of more than 1.5 million square feet in facilities, including a new astronomy observatory built in 2012 without state funding; creation of the President's Academic Excellence Scholars Program, awarded to students who graduated in the top 1 percent of their high school classes; and the launch of the university's first doctoral, MFA and engineering programs.
He was the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for the wide-ranging nature of his work in making a difference in the lives of the residents of the Inland Empire.
He was survived by his wife, Marilyn; his sons: Todd (Tiffany), Eric (Jennifer) and Brent (Amy); and 12 grandchildren: Kathleen, Megan, Erin, Tommy, Michael, Andrew, Paige, Allison, Mackenzie, Nicole, Kendall and Lauren.