CSUSM to add the name of retired president Karen Haynes to CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care despite her controversial history


Photo courtesy of the CSUSM Office of Communications

The university plans to rename the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care to the CSU Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care after former president Karen Haynes. From left to right: CSU Board of Trustees member Adam Day, former president Karen Haynes, Darlene Shiley and former CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White, pictured in May 2019.

Tania Ortiz, Opinion Editor

University officials plan to add the name of former president Karen Haynes to the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care, named after the well-known philanthropist and longtime CSUSM donor Darlene Shiley.

In 2019, the CSU Board of Trustees approved the renaming of the institute in recognition of Shiley’s donating an accumulative of $6 million to the university since 2012.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the decision to acknowledge Haynes through the renaming of the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care was at the request of Shiley, following the requisite two-year period post-retirement for any individuals who have served the CSU in an administrative position.

Haynes retired in June 2019, after more than 15 years at CSUSM. She played an integral role in the university’s growth during its formative years and was the longest-serving president at the university.

The decision to honor Haynes through the renaming of the institute is followed by criticism from some CSUSM students because of her controversial actions.

The Union-Tribune reported in 2019 that Haynes and other administrators, including former dean Michael Schroder, who is now under criminal investigation, used university dollars for personal expenses such as chauffeured travel and staying in luxury hotels.

Longtime donor to CSUSM Darlene Shiley (center, holding up a sign) wants to add Haynes’ name to the institute. Shiley is pictured at CSUSM’s annual fundraising gala in June 2019. (Photo courtesy of the CSUSM Office of Communications)

Haynes also faced criticism in 2013, when photos of the former university president wearing a sombrero and a sarape from 2008 surfaced.

Third-year women’s, gender & sexuality major and criminology & justice studies minor Val Battle Haddock said she thought that the renaming is quite ridiculous given Haynes’ record.

“The fact that the university is choosing to honor someone who … engaged in racist behavior says a lot more about the university’s motivations than any recent surface level remarks that have been made regarding anti-racism or serving students,” said Battle Haddock, who was also concerned about Haynes’ spending of university funds.

CSUSM chief communications officer Margaret Chantung said via email that the university is aware of the concerns raised by students. 

Still, Chantung said it is important for CSUSM to honor its agreement with donors, adding that Haynes made many important contributions to CSUSM over 15 years, including an “integral role to founding and growing the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care.”

The decision to add Haynes’ name to the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care follows the Academic Senate’s recent endorsement to rename Craven Hall, Craven Road and Craven Circle and remove a bust of the late California State Senator William A. Craven for his previous comments about undocumented individuals.

There is currently no date for when the CSU Shiley Institute will be renamed. 

Editor’s note: This story was updated on May 19 to remove a quote.

Tania Ortiz is the Opinion Editor for The Cougar Chronicle. She is a senior at CSUSM as a communication major. Tania plans to pursue a job in the media industry after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys reading, going on runs and spending time with friends.