History of National University

Since 1971, National University has been putting passion into practice by offering accessible, achievable education to hard-working adults in San Diego, across the nation, and around the globe. In celebration of NU’s 50th anniversary, this timeline highlights the important milestones and innovative initiatives that have shaped our University.

  • 2010 – 2020 –
    Adapting to the Future

    • 2020

      NU reaches 180,000 Alumni.

    • 2019

      To further cater to its growing student body of adult learners, National University expands its academic offering by launching two doctoral programs: Doctorate in Organizational Innovation and Doctorate in Nursing Anesthesiology.

    • 2017

      National University establishes the Precision Education initiative to transform higher education through personalized learning approaches.

    • 2016

      National University hosts global media leader Oprah Winfrey for an inspiring and exclusive special lecture for students and the University community.

    • 2016

      Dr. David Andrews is named fifth president of National University, and Dr. Michael Cunningham takes on full duties as chancellor of the National University System.

    • 2014

      National University and the National University System oversee nationwide expansion of programs supporting Pre-K-12 education and the nonprofit sector, including Harmony and Inspire.

    • 2013

      Dr. Michael Cunningham is named president of National University and chancellor of the National University System. Chancellor Lee retires as Chancellor of the NU System.

    • 2011

      A newly created Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success provides comprehensive student services for the military population, which represents a quarter of the University’s population.

    • 2010

      For the 10th year in a row, National University prepares more students to earn their California teaching credential than any other university in the state — and continues to do so.

  • 2000s –
    Programmatic and System Growth

    • 2009

      Patricia Potter becomes interim president of National University

    • 2007

      Dr. Dana Gibson become first female president of National University.

    • 2007

      Further expanding its reach, National University establishes the Division of Pre-College Programs

    • 2002

      National University Virtual High School (NUVHS), offers high-school students the opportunity to take online college-preparatory courses and access college courses.

    • 2001

      Expanding on the vision of National University to serve working adults, the National University System is established.

  • 1990 –
    Technological Advances and Strategic Partnerships

    • 1998

      True to its roots in serving the military population, National University expands its reach on military bases, as well as with new California campuses.

    • 1997

      In line with the University’s mission to meet the needs of working adults, the University increases strategic industry partnerships, including one to help McDonald’s employees earn BBAs.

    • 1996

      As National University celebrates its 25th anniversary, it once again emerges as a leader in educational technology by offering its first online classes.

    • 1995

      National University headquarters relocates from Mission Valley to Torrey Pines.

    • 1993

      Identifying new ways to meet the needs of working adults, National University launches a teleconference system to provide distance education to 10 different sites.

    • 1992

      The California expansion continues with additional campuses opening in San Bernardino, Stockton, and Chula Vista.

  • 1980s –
    Expansion in California

    • 1989

      Dr. Jerry C. Lee becomes President of National University

    • 1986

      National University embarks on an expansion phase in California, opening campuses in Fresno, Sherman Oaks, and San Jose.

    • 1982

      National University opens in Sacramento, California.

    • 1980

      National University’s School of Education is founded, growing over the years to become one of the largest schools of education in the country.

  • 1970s –
    The Beginnings

    • 1977-79

      NU expands to Orange and LA Counties.

    • 1978

      Recognizing technology’s potential in the education sector, the University rolls out one of higher education’s first online, real-time University Management Information Systems.

    • 1977

      National University earns accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission, a distinction it maintains over the years. (Formally Western Association of Schools and Colleges)

    • 1975

      National University opens main campus in Mission Valley

    • 1971

      National University is established as a university headquartered in San Diego. Dr. David Chigos founded National University to meet an emerging need to support the educational goals of working adults such as those in the military and in other workforce sectors. The first campus opens in San Diego, California.

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