Gonzalez made his announcement during his annual Fall Address to faculty, staff and students.
"I have one more announcement this morning," said Gonzalez, "that I'll be retiring from the presidency at the end of this academic year."
Most people in the audience were surprised by the news, including Annette Reed who teaches Native American History classes at the university. "It really struck my heart," said Reed. "I actually teared up when I heard that he was going to retire."
After his speech, Gonzalez - who turns 69 next month - pointed out his higher education career spans nearly 40 years, 11 of them at Sacramento State. "It's time. Like Seinfeld said - better to leave on a high note."
That high note, Gonzalez says, includes setting up various academic programs, construction of a student-funded recreation center and building a campus bookstore and state-of-the-art track at Hornet Stadium without using state money.
California State University's chancellor will begin the search for a new president. Gonzalez says after he retires he plans to return to Sacramento State to teach.