Goals for the Years Ahead
It was a delight to see so many of you on Friday, Aug. 25, at my first annual address to the university. I welcomed the opportunity to introduce myself to the campus and community, to articulate the values that will guide my stewardship of California State University, Northridge, and to outline the major priorities we will focus on in the years ahead.
To summarize for those of you who were in attendance and to bring into the conversation those who were not, I want to reiterate what I hope will become our shared priorities:
We need to strengthen our connections, both within the university and between the university and the community. Internally, I envision a series of steps that will increase the likelihood that we are all working together to move the university in the same direction. Achieving this goal will take concerted work from all of us - students, faculty and staff - and will depend on our ability to collaborate effectively across departmental, divisional, cultural and generational lines. As we work creatively together to increase our students' success, we also will forge stronger bonds with each other and gain greater satisfaction in a job well done. We will be better able to reach out to the San Fernando Valley and beyond with pride and confidence in the significant difference we make through our varied intellectual, educational, creative and social service achievements.
Creating a User-Friendly Campus
We will strive to create a more user-friendly campus for students, for the faculty and staff who work here, and for the many visitors to the campus. Efforts to achieve this goal ultimately will require action in all divisions of the university. Initially, we will take the following steps to achieve this goal:
- As administrators, we will work to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of our campus business processes. During the current academic year, we will devise a means of soliciting your suggestions for the problem areas that most need our attention.
- Vice President Mo Qayoumi and his staff in Administration and Finance will develop and implement a plan to improve signage on campus. Through attractive and communicative signs at many locations, we need to more clearly define the perimeter of the campus so that everyone knows when they have arrived at CSUN. Also, we need to redesign the information and parking booths on all sides of the campus so that it is clear where visitors can get directions and parking information. Within the campus, each building needs to be more clearly identified so that internal navigation is easier for students and all of us.
- We need to create systems for easier and more timely access to campus information.
- As a general attitude and posture, we need to strengthen our collective ability to say "yes" when confronted with problems and requests, and be always active in finding ways to accomplish what people need done rather than retreating back into "the way things have always been done."
Improving Graduation Rates
Building on our university mission and values and on what we learned from the recent WASC self-study process, we need to develop strategies to ensure that more of our students complete their degree programs and graduate. We lag behind comparable institutions in our graduation rates: too many students who begin here as first-time freshmen and who come here as transfer students do not graduate in a timely way. In fact, more than half of our entering freshmen never graduate from CSUN. Our student retention rate, while similar to that of comparable universities, is not what we wish it to be. I hope you will agree with me that this is not an acceptable record, especially given the excellent quality of our instructional programs and educational leadership.
The majority of students who leave the university do so in good standing. But it currently takes our freshmen, on average, 146 units to graduate; transfer students take 142 units. These facts underscore the need to study the reasons why more of our students are not graduating in a timely fashion and to devise strategies to help our students achieve what is for the vast majority of them a primary goal when they come to CSUN.
We need to look at the size and complexity of our degree and general education programs. We need to rethink our scheduling habits to provide more classes at times convenient for students. We need to identify ways in which the university can be more responsive to the economic circumstances of our students. If we do not attend seriously to this, we are wasting our own valuable but limited resources and, even more important, we are not fulfilling our moral and societal obligations to assist our students in making the best use of their talents and energies. I want to be clear that I am not suggesting we lower our standards for graduation. On the contrary, I am suggesting we raise our expectations of students and ourselves so that all students will perform at the highest level possible and qualify for graduation in a reasonable period of time.
To accomplish the goals we set for ourselves and to make it possible to realize the excellence of which our university is capable, we clearly need more financial resources than the regular state budget provides. Raising significant amounts of external funding will require leadership from our new vice president for university advancement and we are energetically engaged in that search. All of us, not solely those with responsibility for development and public relations, need to participate in the effort to communicate CSUN's story and pursue opportunities to attract external funding. For now, Northridge is the only large campus in the CSU that has not achieved the goal set by the system's Board of Trustees to raise private support equal to at least 10 percent of our general fund budget. First and foremost for our own purposes, our campus must achieve that goal, which will require that we increase our private support by more than 35 percent. I am very aware that the university president has a major role and responsibility in this regard, and I will commit a substantial portion of my energies in the coming years to this essential priority.
New Chief of Staff
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Alden Reimonenq as chief of staff to the president.
As many of you know, Dr. Reimonenq served this past year as executive assistant to the provost, having come to CSUN from St. Mary's College of California, where he was a professor of English and former chair of the department. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Purdue University. In addition to university appointments, Dr. Reimonenq's experience includes positions in training and instructional development for Pacific Bell. It is to Dr. Reimonenq's credit that he so quickly has become knowledgeable about CSUN and developed effective and strong working relationships with a wide range of administrators, staff, and faculty. Please join me in extending congratulations to Dr. Reimonenq on his selection for this new role at the university. He formally begins the position on Monday, Sept. 11.
I also would like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to Ms. Delia Rudiger, the current chief of staff, who retires Sept. 15. Ms. Rudiger has served the university for more than 30 years, and was appointed chief of staff by Provost Louanne Kennedy during her term as interim president. Ms. Rudiger has played an instrumental role in helping me to adjust quickly to the university. Anyone who has worked with Ms. Rudiger is familiar with her commitment, wisdom and sense of humor, as well as her pride in her Irish heritage, which is reflected each year by her always-memorable St. Patrick's Day parties. She will be deeply missed by everyone at the university and leaves with the greatest respect and admiration.
The university is holding a reception in her honor on Thursday, Sept. 21, at 4:30 p.m. at the University Club. Friends of Ms. Rudiger and members of the campus community are welcome to attend and to contribute to a memory book being organized in her honor that will be presented at the reception. In lieu of a personal gift, Ms. Rudiger has requested that donations instead be made to the university. Contributions should be made payable to the "CSUN Foundation" and may be designated for the Jerome Richfield Memorial Fund, the Donald E. Bianchi Endowment or the Women's Studies Department.
Open Forums for Special Assistant to the President for Equity and Diversity
I am pleased to announce that three candidates for the position of Special Assistant to the President for Equity and Diversity will be visiting the university and participating in open forums that will give the campus community an opportunity to meet the applicants and ask them questions.
All three open forums will take place in the Balboa Room of the University Student Union from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The candidates and the dates of their forums are:
Monday, Sept. 18 Ms. Cathy Wixon
Thursday, Sept. 28 Mr. Valton Henderson
Thursday, Oct. 5 Mr. Alan Comedy
Each forum will consist of an introduction of the candidate, a brief presentation by the candidate, and then an open dialogue and question and answer session.
The candidates' resumes are available for review in the President's Office. Abbreviated resumes also are on-line at http://www.csun.edu/~hfpre001/candidates.html.
Week of Activism
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on making community and public service a more prominent part of our students' education. This issue has gained even more attention this election year.
As part of this focus, Associated Students has organized a "Week of Activism" for Sept. 20-27. Attached at the end of this From the President's Desk is the flyer about the events scheduled for the week. I encourage all members of the campus community to take part. The activities cover a broad range of issues that will be of interest to many.
My thanks to Associated Students, particularly A.S. President Robert Hanff and Vice President Sucari Epps, for their work to help students become more politically aware and active in the community.
As many of you know, the university recently has experienced technology service disruptions. To discuss this matter and other issues related to technology service on campus, Dr. Spero Bowman, Associate Vice President for Academic Resources and Chief Information Officer, has scheduled two open forums for the university community on Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 12:30?2 p.m. in room 1133 of the Business Building, and Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 5?7 p.m. in the Engineering Auditorium. Each forum will provide information on the status of ITR services and an opportunity for questions and answers.
While these difficulties have disrupted work around campus, I know that ITR has been diligently working to address the technical problems. I ask that we all demonstrate patience as ITR works to correct these and improve service to the campus community.
Faculty International Exchanges
The California State University Academic Council on International Programs is launching a series of conferences to expand faculty opportunities for international experience and facilitate faculty contacts with colleagues from other countries.
The first conference will take place in two stages, the first to be held in June 2001 in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, the second in September 2002 in California. Faculty who are selected to participate are expected to attend both stages of the conference. The theme of the conference is "The New Europe and the New California: Coexistence, Convergence, and Collision of Cultural Communities."
Approximately 20 faculty from the CSU and 20 from Baden-Wurttemberg will be selected to participate. The conference hosts (Baden-Wurttemberg in 2001 and CSU in 2002) will pay the costs of participants' lodging, meals and associated conference expenses. CSUN will pay the travel costs of up to two faculty from our campus (the maximum number permitted for a single CSU campus). If you would like more information about this opportunity and to be considered for travel support from our campus, please contact Dr. Heinrich Falk, Coordinator of International Programs, ext. 2138 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Faculty and Staff Wellness Program
Human Resource Services is pleased to announce a new opportunity for staff and faculty to enhance their health and wellness.
A program has been developed in collaboration with Dr. Steven Loy of the Kinesiology Department. The purpose of the program is to provide information and assistance for increasing fitness and understanding of what it takes to lead a healthier lifestyle. Human Resources' goal is an enhanced quality of life that will energize our workday and personal recreation time. The program will be conducted in conjunction with Dr. Loy's Adult Exercise Program Design class and will include personal interaction and counsel, seminars, newsletters and more. While the program will focus on encouraging participants to begin exercising and on sustaining motivation for others who have recently begun, all are welcome to join.
Interested faculty and staff should contact Dr. Loy at GetFit@csun.edu, mail drop 8287, or ext. 3220. He will put you on the program¹s mail list and get you started toward a healthier lifestyle.
With the new academic year just begun, it has been a busy and active two weeks for our campus community, as reflected by the many campus achievements I am pleased to share with you:
- I am proud to announce that Dr. Maria Elena Zavala, Biology Department, was one of 10 distinguished faculty from across the country to receive this year's Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Dr. Zavala received the award during a National Science Foundation ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 7. The award includes a $10,000 grant to support her continuing mentoring activities.
Dr. Zavala is well known for her work in mentoring students who traditionally have been underrepresented in these fields. She has been very effective in attracting grants to the university to support this goal and in inspiring many of her students to go on to graduate work in prestigious universities and to successful careers.
Our very best wishes to Dr. Zavala for receiving this outstanding and well-deserved honor.
- My congratulations to Ms. Lauren Teruel, a CSUN alumna and staff member at our National Center on Deafness (NCOD), who was selected Miss Deaf America for 2000-02. The English major graduate, who already had been named Miss Deaf Illinois, is the second consecutive CSUN student to win the award.
The award is a tribute to Ms. Teruel's accomplishments. It is clear that she is a strong role model for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and a wonderful ambassador for the university, the NCOD and our deaf programs. Please join me in conveying her our best wishes during her tenure as Miss Deaf America in the coming two years.
- Three faculty in the Music Department - Professors Matthew Harris, George Heussenstam and David Whitwell - recently have been awarded ASCAPLU$ Standard Awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
These grants support the work of these composers and are awarded in recognition of the quality of their catalog of original compositions. Please join me in congratulating Professors Harris, Heussenstam and Whitwell for this honor and for demonstrating why CSUN's Music Department is among the most renowned in the country.
- NASA has awarded a grant of nearly $2 million to Drs. Bezhad Bavarian (Dept. of Civil and Manufacturing Engineering), Nicholas Kioussis and Ruqian Wu (both of the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy) for their proposal, "Failure Analysis, Prevention, and Reliability Modeling for Sub-Micron Electronics Technology: A Research Partnership of CSUN with JPL/NASA." The major goals of the grant are to establish guidelines for analyzing materials and components used in lunar and planetary spacecraft and to increase the participation of students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in space science research and education.
The project demonstrates CSUN's leadership in the sciences and I am pleased that our students will benefit from such cutting-edge research. Congratulations to Drs. Bavarian, Kioussis and Wu for being awarded this grant.