Michael R. Cunningham

Michael R. Cunningham

Chancellor & CEO


National University System

San Diego, CA USA


I never just accept rejection; I learn from it. It’s a badge of honor to get rejected because the hardest thing in the world is to put yourself out there.

Videos

Videos

By Roadtrip Nation

Michael R. Cunningham

Highlight
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01:20
Michael R. Cunningham HighlightInterview Highlight
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06:01
InterviewThe Interview
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01:40
The Importance Of Volunteering and NetworkingWeb Exclusive
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00:51
Maintaining Work-Life BalanceWeb Exclusive
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00:48
Learn How To Handle RejectionWeb Exclusive
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01:13
Day In The Life Of A College ChancellorWeb Exclusive
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01:42
The Worst Thing You Can Say Is "I Should Have or Could Have"Interview Excerpt
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01:25
My Journey Wasn't A Straight LineInterview Excerpt
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02:54
My Career PathInterview Excerpt
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Milestones

Milestones

My road in life has taken me all over.
Born and raised in New York City—his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all New York City firemen and he grew up assuming that would be his path, too.
Was a star wrestler in high school and won a scholarship to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
While in college, he realized that being a fireman was not the right path for him and that he wanted to pursue business instead—earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business.
His first job out of college was as a salesman on Wall Street, working for a printing company that was owned by the father of one of his wrestling teammates.
Started his own printing business, but was struggling to keep up with the technological shifts in the industry, so he went to NYU to get his master’s degree in graphic communications management.
After selling his business and retiring at age 40, he made the decision to pursue a second career in education due to the impact it had on his life—received his Ph.D. from NYU and began teaching.
Has taught at NYU, Cal Poly, and San Diego State University—was named dean of San Diego State’s College of Business Administration and later became the president of National University.
He’s now the chancellor and CEO of the National University System, overseeing a network of educational institutions that employs more than 4,400 faculty and serves over 40,000 students.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Business Administration and Management, General
University of Massachusetts Amherst
undergrad
Bachelor
Marketing/Marketing Management, General
University of Massachusetts Amherst
graduate
Graduate
Graphic Communications, General
New York University
doctorate
Doctorate
Administration, Leadership, Technology
New York University
Career

Career

Chancellor & CEO

I oversee a network of educational institutions serving over 40,000 students.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Business
Business
Education
Education
Accomplishing Goals
Accomplishing Goals

Day to Day

As Chancellor, I'm in charge of a network of educational institutions that connect a diverse population of students to innovative programs relevant to their lives, careers, and the marketplace. There are over 4,400 faculty and 40,000 students who I must look out for. This comes with A LOT of emails. I tend to get up pretty early to start getting through as many as I can. I go to A LOT of meetings mainly to go over skills data and ensure our students are getting what they need to succeed.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Empower other people who are better at certain things than you to do those things. Building a team like that around you makes your life a lot easier and a lot more successful. Time management and work-life balance is essential. Learn from the rejections you get and always ask for advice on how to improve yourself.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Find a role model or mentor and learn as much as you can from them. Take cues from what the people around you identify as your strengths. Figure out what it is about those strengths that makes you special or makes you stand out from others. Be sure to volunteer as much as can! You meet great people and build a strong network that could work in your favor in the future.

Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"I don't want to be a fireman."

I grew up my whole life assuming I would be a fireman because that's what my family did. I never questioned it until I got to college and realized that wasn't really what I was passionate about. I went against these expectations and decided to pursue business instead.

Challenges I Overcame

Career Change
Career Change

I decided to embark on a career change late in life. After selling my company and retiring, I went back to school so I could start teaching. It had it's challenges, but it was worth it.

Work Stress
Work Stress

Running my own business was really challenging. It was 24/7. I've gotten better at work-life balance as I've gotten older.

Financial
Financial

There were times with my business that I struggled to make payroll and almost went out of business, etc. I ended up partnering with a couple of other printing salesman and we were able to turn things around and grow.