Timothy P. White is well-versed in the benefits of California’s higher education system. After graduating from Pleasant Hill High School in Pleasant Hill, Calif., in 1966, White enrolled at nearby Diablo Valley College for two years before transferring to Cal State Fresno, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1970. Two years later, he picked up a master’s degree at Cal State Hayward, then added a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1977.

Since 2012, White has been chancellor of the 23-campus California State University system, the largest four-year public higher education system in the country.

He credits Diablo Valley College for much of his success.

“When I enrolled at Diablo Valley College and began my higher education voyage… I was frankly more of a swimmer and water polo player than a scholar,” White once said. “As the first person in my family to pursue a college degree, it was my experiences at DVC that gave me the opportunity to find my ‘sea legs’ academically. I graduated from a high school only 20 miles from that University of California campus in the Berkeley hills, but for me at that time, the notion that I would someday pursue a Ph.D. at Cal was so unfathomable that, well, it might as well have been 20,000 miles away.

“I learned a lot about myself and my academic abilities during my time at DVC,” he continued. “The courses I took helped prepare me for my undergraduate degree, and my involvement in intercollegiate athletics – swimming and water polo – built self-confidence and furthered my clear understanding of the power of teamwork and focusing on goals.”

White was born in Argentina. He and his parents immigrated to Canada and then to California when he was young. Prior to becoming CSU chancellor in 2013, White served as chancellor and professor of biology and biomedical sciences at UC Riverside, where he saw the campus grow to more than 21,000 students for the first time in its history. He moved to UC Riverside in 2008 after serving as president of the University of Idaho from 2004 to 2008.

White has worked with partners in the Legislature and community colleges to expand the Associate Degrees for Transfer program, which allows more qualified Californians a seamless educational path from K-12 to college, a CSU degree and beyond.