President's Office

2015 Annual Fall Welcome

President’s Annual Fall Welcome Address
"40K+ Reasons to Excel at CSUN"

Dianne F. Harrison, President
California State University, Northridge
Valley Performing Arts Center, August 20, 2015, 9 a.m.

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Related Links:
Download a printer-friendly copy of the address (PDF) • Welcome Address Program booklet (PDF)
Pre-address slideshow presentation
Video of the address (see also below)

Scroll down to read the prepared text to President Harrison's remarks

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Opening

Thank you, Adam, and thank you, Jorge,for your inspiring words. Good morning and welcome back everyone. How about that video? It was put together by the Marketing and Communications team in University Advancement. All of those faculty, staff and students whose achievements were highlighted – thank you for all your efforts.

I also want to thank the volunteer greeters, student-athletes, and the Matador Pep Band for welcoming everyone outside when they arrived!

I want to give a very special warm welcome to those who are new to our campus and those tenured or promoted:

  • The program lists 86 new tenure-track faculty members and 66 faculty members tenured or promoted, and 234 permanent full-time staff who have joined CSUN and its auxiliaries, in the past year or who have taken on new roles.
  • And speaking of our new faculty, they have taken a break from the New Faculty Orientation program with the program’s director, Professor Gregory Knotts.
  • Everyone in these groups, please stand and receive our welcome and congratulations!
  • You are joining our more than 4200 faculty and staff employees at CSUN, who also welcome you.

Let me mention some special guests who are here this morning:

  • Seated to my right in front are:
    • Faculty honored at the May Honored Faculty Reception and staff who received Presidential and Merit Awards at June’s Staff Recognition and Awards Ceremony, whose names are listed in the program. Will you please stand and accept our congratulations once again?
    • Also seated with our guests is my husband, John Wujack. Thank you for coming!

Finally, I want to take a moment to welcome our new Provost, Dr. Yi Li, who started on July 22.

I hope all of you will give Yi your full support and make a commitment to contribute to his success in the coming years. Now let’s give our new provost, Dr. Yi Li, a warm CSUN welcome.

 

Welcome

Our students should be the central focus of why we arrive on campus each and every day, filled with enthusiasm for our teaching, our research and scholarship, and service.

Each and every student expects excellence in CSUN’s programs and services, and we should provide nothing less and fulfill that expectation of excellence in our offices, classrooms and grounds.

Our students give us reason to remain focused and strive for the very best. They have chosen CSUN to help them rise and fulfill their full potential. We have an obligation to help them succeed each and every day.

As we begin the 2015-16 academic year, I want to take stock of what we accomplished this past year to elevate our students and expand their horizons and opportunities, and make plans for where we need to focus in the coming year and beyond.

As guide posts to plan and measure our efforts, our seven university priorities provide the framework to highlight the achievements, challenges and opportunities this morning.

The seven CSUN priorities, in case you don’t remember, are identified on the inside front cover of your program:

  1. Student success
  2. Focus on employees for success
  3. Increasing the visibility and reputation of the university
  4. Plan for a future less dependent on state funding
  5. Increase research activity and sponsored programs
  6. Sustainability, and
  7. Using athletics as a tool for (student, community and regional) engagement

These are all shared priorities. Developed out of existing, ongoing efforts and campus documents we have been committed to for several years.

All of our planning, budgeting and attention needs to address one or more of these areas. All requests for funding, staffing, or anything else needs to clearly point back to these priorities. And your help, support and commitment to these priorities – as the faculty and staff of the university – are essential to CSUN’s success in serving our students and in engaging our communities, donors, alumni, elected officials and the public.

Having priorities and a campus-wide shared understanding of them makes all of our jobs easier because we are all working toward the same common good. We can move forward in significant ways if we act in concert.

I have said in the past that my vision for CSUN is to be a campus that is known nationally, statewide and regionally for being an outstanding educational institution with highly ranked and high quality academic programs; and for having faculty who give students the opportunity to engage in research, internships, learning communities, and cutting-edge technology; and as a campus that reflects the demographics of California and the future demographics of the United States. We nurture and prepare this potential future for our state and nation.

And we must be able to demonstrate student success through our persistence and graduation rates, reduction in achievement gaps, our career and graduate school placement rates, and other external validations. That cannot be accomplished without commitment and hard work.

Today, as I highlight some of our achievements this past year, and I cannot name or mention every achievement, my remarks are intended to be representative of the outstanding work done across our diverse colleges and departments. We should take pride in all of our collective achievements, whether mentioned here or not this morning, because they demonstrate the wide range of outstanding work that exists here every day throughout the year, across the divisions, colleges and departments!

So thank you!

Student Success

The university’s first priority is, appropriately, student success.

This past spring, 10,658 students were eligible to graduate and we are getting ready to welcome more than 5,700 first time freshmen and close to 6,000 new transfers students.

I look forward to seeing our students at the President’s Picnic on August 27, and the Freshman Convocation on September 10, which offer opportunities to further welcome our new and continuing students. And I hope to see you, our faculty and staff, there as well. I know many of you volunteer, so thank you for that.

While we graduated an impressive number of students in December, May and August, we are estimating our current year total headcount at slightly over 42,000 students. Some of you may be thinking what happened to impaction and reducing our student headcount by 1%? Remember that our strongest tools for managing enrollment do not really kick in until the 2016-17 year when we will have both freshmen and transfer student impaction and some additional academic program impaction. Part of our increased enrollment is due to the attraction CSUN has become as a destination campus, our commitment to access, and not having effective impaction tools to use for 2015-16.

But another excellent reason is that even with our growing student population, we are continuing to make good progress with retention (first time freshmen at a rate of 78% and first time transfers at 83%). Our success with programs like Early Start, Summer Bridge, developmental math and other strategies have played key roles in these numbers. Our average unit load continues to be strong, a key indicator for progress to graduation.

While we must maintain and increase our retention rates, we also need to ensure that this trend translates into greatly improved graduation numbers and lowering our achievement gaps. And we will do a lot more than cross fingers and hope. I am looking forward to working with our new provost, the rest of the Cabinet and Extended Cabinet, and the entire campus community on these important challenges.

We are trending in the proper direction of meeting our goals for student success and academic excellence:

Let me cite a few examples:

  • Our David Nazarian College of Business and Economics received accreditation for five years following stellar efforts by faculty and staff, a recognition earned by fewer than 5% of business degree granting institutions worldwide! The college was also listed among “35 Great Schools for Financial Planners” and among the best graduate schools by U.S. News and World Report.
  • In 2014, the Cinema and Television Arts Department in the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication was named one of the 25 top film schools in the country by the Hollywood Reporter, which also named our music department as one of the top 25 music programs in the world – CSUN was only one of six universities in the U.S. to have both film and music ranked in the top 25.  In addition, Variety magazine recently named CSUN’s CTVA program one of the top 40 in the world.
  • And speaking of Cinema and Television Arts, CTVA Professor Nate Thomas was recognized with one of the system’s highest honors for faculty and staff – the Wang Family Excellence Award, which is given each year to just five faculty and staff from within the entire 23-campus CSU system for their extraordinary commitment to student achievement and exemplary contributions in their fields.
  • The successful myCSUN Tablet initiative, under the leadership of Vice President Hilary Baker and Senior Director for Academic Technology Deone Zell, continued to grow and expand, increasing the number of participating faculty by 30 percent and bringing cumulative student enrollment to 8,000. As an affirmation of this success, this past January, Apple presented CSUN with an Apple Distinguished Program Award.

This award and the other accomplishments represent recognition in the ways CSUN has engaged, educated and helped student progress. I believe our challenge to raising our continuation and graduation rates further is to corral all of our many efforts across campus, use data analytics to determine our most effective strategies and continue to scale up so more students are effected.

We are planning and getting ready to launch programs and analyses that will meet this need and the expectations students have for a high quality 21st century college education:

  • Thanks to our partnership with prominent CSUN alumnus Ravi Sawhney, we are the exploring a cross-disciplinary master’s degree for CSUN in design/design thinking/innovation that will give students the kind of skills for creativity and innovation that is desired by employers and crucial to an advanced economy like ours. It represents the kind of entrepreneurship and innovation skills I hope we are putting into place in all majors so that students can be competitive in a global marketplace. In addition to the design thinking program, the Nazarian College’s Management Department is launching an entrepreneurship minor this fall.
  • In a partnership with the Education Advisory Board (or EAB), a division of the Student Success Collaborative, we will have the tools, services and predictive analytics that will help in a variety of areas, including targeted advising, assessing high impact practices, and reducing bottleneck courses. And we now have a user friendly dashboard that is available to colleges and departments that will provide important data for decision-making.

We are committed to the CSU System’s Graduation Initiative 2025 that expects CSUN to meet a variety of new goals, starting with the 2019 cohort (students who are currently freshmen in high schools this year), including:

  • Increasing the six-year graduation rate for first- time freshmen to 60 percent.
  • Increasing the four-year graduation rate for transfer students to 76 percent.
  • Closing the achievement gap for historically underrepresented students to seven percent or less.
  • Closing the achievement gap for low-income students to five percent (or less).

The university has established near term goals for the coming year:

  • To increase the continuation rate for students entering Fall 2015-16 by 2.5%.
  • To continue to increase our six-year first-time freshman graduation rate by 2%.
  • And to close the achievement gap for our traditionally underserved students by at least 2.5%.

In the coming year, we will continue to apply those practices that have been effective – such as Early Start and Summer Bridge – and explore new opportunities, using the EAB tools to achieve these goals.

In addition to in class experiences, we must also continue to provide enriching out-of-class student experiences. This past year we had numerous achievements:

A few include:

  • At Student Housing this semester, we will open new food locations that we hope everyone will have a chance to visit: the expanded and relocated Matador Mercado, a new Freudian Sip, and especially the new Bamboo Terrace restaurant – CSUN’s new Pan-Asian concept that will primarily serve our residential students but also offer weekly discounts to employees.
  • This fall, under the curation of the CSUN Art Gallery and last year’s recipient of the Preeminent Scholarly Publications Award at the Honored Faculty Reception, Professor of English Charles Hatfield, there will be an exhibition of the original artwork of comic-book artist and creator Jack Kirby, creator of many of the characters featured in the recent successful movies from Marvel and Disney Film Studios;
  • This past spring, I had the opportunity to enjoy a spoken word event co-sponsored by Chicana/o Studies, the Provost’s Office, and Governmental and Community Affairs, which featured performances by many of our students and L.A. Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez. And Laureate Rodriguez will be a “Poet in Residence” at CSUN in Spring 2016;
  • And to ensure a safe and better informed student community, as part of a mandated effort, all of our students (96%) completed the state and federally required training in sexual violence prevention. These efforts will continue in 2015-16 year as we improve our campus climate.

Before we move on, I also want to touch on the subject of social justice.

There is a general unease and unrest that is going on in our country right now. I am saddened that we have lived through the tragedies related to the discrimination and profiling of African Americans in Charleston, Ferguson and right here in Los Angeles. Our students are still learning about themselves, about the world, and how they fit into that world, and expect social justice. We have an obligation to provide a welcoming environment that allows people to share their perspectives and teaches them to listen and hear others as well. I think it is imperative to model social discourse.  We must ourselves be courageous and not tolerate those around us that discriminate against others based upon their race or gender or sexual orientation… or religious beliefs… or physical abilities… or anything else.  We must confront these issues together and promote inclusion and understanding. 

I am proud that at CSUN we have worked and continue to work to create a positive environment for such discussions and inclusivity. One of these was the implementation of the CSUN Dreamers Scholarship last fall for our undocumented students, an important segment of our student population who otherwise have no type of tuition support or little funding available to them. My thanks to Vice President William Watkins and the Financial Aid Office staff, under the leadership of Lili Vidal, for implementing the program. We were able to fund 60 individual scholarships for Dream Students last fall and 111 this past spring. I received many letters from the recipients of the scholarship expressing gratitude and sharing personal stories about the difference it has made in their lives. These were moving messages that touched me. Providing such support is the right thing to do, to support the education of these students who live in and contribute to the success of our communities and the country.

Focus on employees for success

The topic of social justice is also related to the second university priority, the Focus on Employees for Success. This priority recognizes that we must encourage and support our faculty and staff as well because your commitment and well-being is important, and key to boosting the success of our students. 

Today’s world relies more than ever on being part of a team, a team of diverse individuals to create, to innovate, to accomplish in fact most things, and we are not immune from the issues of the world within our own enclosed campus community.

As I said at last year’s event, it’s important that our faculty and staff reflect our student diversity. We have made good progress on this – this past year, we have hired approximately 86 new faculty, half of whom are from traditionally underrepresented groups! That is a great tribute to the efforts and commitment of the Deans, department chairs and faculty to develop a more diverse faculty.

We must now pay as much attention to retention of these faculty and to creating an inclusive environment of excellence for everyone. We need to mentor and support our new employees and our new faculty. All of us play a role in this.

A search for a new Chief Diversity Officer (or CDO) is underway. This position will report to me and work with the entire campus community to proactively develop and implement collaborative plans and programs that educate and encourage the campus to adopt diversity, inclusion, educational and employment opportunity, and cross-cultural proficiency as core values for CSUN. The CDO will lead our newly established Commission on Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. I look forward to announcing this appointment and taking the steps to fulfill our goal to be a diverse and inclusive institution.

This is also related to our continued efforts to create a broad culture of respect on campus. To this point, and in support of all of our efforts of inclusion, please carefully consider your own actions and contributions to this goal. A positive step for all of us is to TALK TO EACH OTHER, NOT ABOUT EACH OTHER.  Many micro aggressions occur at this level. Gossiping and complaining among groups unnecessarily creating intrigue and stirring a pot against one or others is not the best approach. Let’s treat each other well, with respect, and create a campuswide set of expectations that this is the type of campus climate that shines at CSUN and we all share these values.

To promote this culture of respect and collegiality, we will include these expectations in places like our job descriptions and appointment letters to affirm that it is the responsibility of all members of the CSUN community to share and uphold these important values.

I was extremely glad that we were finally able to make some headway in our compensation issues for faculty and staff through our equity increases (39% of faculty and 22% of staff received increases). This is an issue that stays on my mind. I hope to continue to allocate funds to this effort.  I know that we have more to do and we will do whatever we can over the next several years.

Other examples of the university’s focus on employee success are programs like:

  • The CSUN Shine from Within Program, the professional development program for staff that is intended to build connections across divisions and strengthen commitment to the university’s mission and priorities. The inaugural cohort completed the program this past spring and were recognized at the Staff Recognition Ceremony. A new cohort will be launched in the fall.  My thanks to Human Resources, under Associate Vice President for Human Resources, Kristina de la Vega, and the program’s steering committee for its work in managing this important program.
  • The Staff Holiday and Summer celebrations, which have shown an increase in interest in attendance since they debuted. It is fun to have the opportunity to see so many of our employees with their families having a good time and share casual conversation.
  • And, finally, there is the Help Make CSUN Shine Bright program. Last year, we had an incredible response to our question related to Student Success and, based on feedback received to a question posed in Fall 2014, about whether CSUN should become a smoke-free campus, I’m pleased to announce that yesterday, the policy became effective: CSUN is now officially completely smoke- and tobacco-free!! Please encourage your colleagues who are still smokers to seek out the many programs on campus to help them quit, including the Student Health Center – if they or you need support and encouragement!
  • In fact, I’m proud to report that the new policy has already had a positive impact on one of our employees. I recently learned that Darryl Hart, a painter in Physical Plant Management, who has been a smoker for about 15 years, decided to quit smoking and acknowledged that the new policy was the tipping point for his decision. Thank you and congrats Darryl – Hang in there! The health and well being of you and everyone on campus is important to the university and me, and I’m glad to hear you’ve made this healthy choice for yourself.
     

Increasing the visibility and reputation of the university

The next priority I want to speak about is increasing the visibility and reputation of the university.

It’s not just about accolades or being number one (though that’s good too!). It is about attracting the best faculty; having employers see value in a CSUN degree; and, of course, attracting much needed support dollars.

As I’ve said many times, CSUN already is strong in so many areas and has a great story to tell – we just need to tell it more effectively and show our pride!

Over the last year, much has happened to raise our profile:

  • Under the leadership of Vice President for University Advancement Rob Gunsalus and Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jeff Noblitt, we’ve reorganized and bolstered our communications efforts and invested in reputation and visibility building initiatives. The most visible of these efforts, of course, was the launch of the CSUN Rise Campaign in the spring, that included a micro website and a highly visible promotion campaign right here in our neighborhood – I hope some of you have seen the eye-catching ads at Burbank Airport or at the Topanga Mall.
  • This campaign has been complimented by our social media efforts and the migration of our website to Web-One, which remains an ongoing project.

As we move forward with the CSUN Rise campaign, we will be using data metrics and evidence like clicks, gifts, media placements, job fair exhibitors, rankings, and attendance at athletic and cultural events to measure the success of the campaign.

And CSUN’s growing reputation and visibility has already paid dividends, as when L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti chose CSUN and this very venue we’re in – the VPAC – as the site of his State of the City address in April. He and his staff were very complimentary of the performing arts center and the outstanding support he received from the university.

Similarly, CSUN was proud to serve as a “host town” for last month’s exciting, 2015 Special Olympics World Games! We housed the Game’s largest delegation, with nearly 500 athletes from seven different countries. Given CSUN’s commitment to inclusion and helping young people achieve their goals, I enjoyed meeting the athletes and seeing their enthusiasm and spirit. Thanks to Francesca Vega, Director of Governmental and Community Relations, and Heather Cairns, Associate Director of Administrative Services at The University Corporation, for spearheading this memorable event with the support of many of you.

I want to also share here the incredible work of the Tseng College of Extended Learning, under the leadership of Dean Joyce Feucht-Haviar and her staff. They have generated and returned to the university millions of dollars to support our faculty and students and have taken the lead in partnering with various community groups and businesses in a variety of innovative projects, like the CSU 5 and the CSUN Impact Day focused on design-thinking that I discussed earlier. I am also thrilled with the growing national recognition for the CSUN fully online programs, and want to acknowledge their efforts in raising CSUN’s reputation and visibility.

Our reputation and visibility isn’t just about good marketing and “branding” – it is about being genuine and telling our stories honestly. Our excellence needs no “spin” or embellishment. More importantly, we all play a role in elevating the university’s reputation and visibility in what we do every day to contribute to the success of the university. I thank you for that and look forward to more such successes and opportunities in the coming year.

 

Plan for a future less dependent on state funding

The next university priority is planning for a future less dependent on state funding.

Early in the summer, we were fortunate to learn that the Governor and state legislature approved a budget for the CSU that went beyond the Governor’s original proposed budget and the May revise, which will fully fund the support budget submitted by the Trustees for 2015-16.

But, of course, this does not make up for the years of reduction we have received over the last seven years and we are not back to our funding levels of 2007-08.So we must remain focused on the priority to plan for a future less dependent on state funding.

  • Philanthropy, of course, is an important part of this effort. Under the leadership of Vice President Gunsalus and his University Advancement staff, the number of donors has gone from just over 6,000 the year before my appointment to over 13,400 and counting! In this same time period, total new gift commitments have risen from $11.8 million to $18 million per year for the last three years. This is an achievement worth repeating! I look forward to continuing this forward momentum.
  • The University Corporation, under the leadership of its Executive Director, Rick Evans, also continues to be an excellent partner in seeking new sources of revenue. In fact, this past year, contracts with Pepsi and the Follet Higher Ed Group, our bookstore operator, were “aggressively” renegotiated and included approximately $2.5 million  in bonus payments, and funds for scholarships and for athletics.

We continue to explore opportunities, which includes increasing the number of donors and alumni engagement, and expanding our self-support, certificate, and professional development programs to provide additional funds for the university priorities. The current environment requires CSUN to be creative and innovative, and we should welcome the challenge, always remembering that we have thousands of students counting on us to excel.

Increase research activity and sponsored programs

Our next priority is to increase research activity and sponsored programs.

Last academic year, we saw a 4.5% increase in our research activity and sponsored projects, for a total of more than  $32.2 million in research awards.

And under the leadership of Associate Vice President Crist Khachikian, we look forward to expanding research activity and sponsored projects even more. In fact, last year, sponsored programs activity returned more than $1.7 million back to the campus to reinvest in these activities.

One of the most exciting and significant of these projects is the BUILD-PODER grant, a $22 million grant from the National Institutes of Health which is the biggest so far in CSUN’s history. The grant’s principal investigators are Associate Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies Crist Khachikian; Psychology Professors Gabriela Chavira and Carrie Saetermoe; and Assistant Vice President for Graduate Studies Maggie Shiffrar.

This grant not only advanced our goal to expand research, it also supports the priority for student success, our commitment to social justice and to inclusion.

It is an innovative undergraduate research training program that aims to increase the research workforce by providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students who might not choose a biomedical research career, using an innovative shift in training and mentoring, and by reframing and redesigning current approaches through the lens of Critical Race Theory.

And last fall, CSUN was selected as the site for a STEM education workshop co-sponsored by the White House. It was an opportunity for us to show our success and leadership in this area. We are excited by the potential to build on this tradition of helping to diversify the fields of biomedical research and the sciences.

Sustainability

We should take great pride in what we have accomplished in advancing the sixth university priority on sustainability.

  • Last fall, we appointed a Sustainability Program Manager, Austin Eriksson, in our Facilities Department. Austin is helping to lead and coordinate the campus’s work in this area, working collaboratively across campus with individuals and departments like Dr. Helen Cox at the Institute for Sustainability, Associated Students, the University Corporation, Mike Antos at the Center for Urban Water Resilience, and others to make CSUN more green and sustainability.
  • And we’ve made real, measurable progress: last academic year, CSUN achieved a 7% water reduction and we project a 17% reduction in 2015-16, putting the university well on track to reach the CSU’s goal of a 20% reduction by 2020. We are also on track to exceed the reductions required of us as an LADWP customer to meet the Governor’s state-wide mandated reduction goals! Please continue to do all you can to cooperate.
  • While you can see these accomplishments are the result of great collaboration and partnerships across campus, I especially wish to thank Vice President Colin Donahue – who could not be here today because he’s helping his daughter get settled in at San Diego State – for his commitment and leadership in making CSUN a model for sustainability. 
  • Other successes include the implementation of E-Travel last fall, which has resulted in an 80% reduction in paper processing; and, through the leadership of the University Corporation, which manages the campus’s food services, we have developed a campus “real food” program that promotes natural and locally sourced food. The plan will include the recovery of dining program food wastes to convert to compost.
  • We have been recognized for these and other efforts. We’ve achieved regional recognition in the EPA Food Recovery Challenge Program and will be receiving a Certificate of Achievement for our food diversion efforts, which was done by student volunteers coordinated by the Institute for Sustainability.
  • And this spring, as part of our Arbor Day celebration, CSUN was recognized as a Tree Campus USA University by the Arbor Day Foundation.
  • And how about our A.S.-sponsored weekly Farmer’s Market on campus? Three words: Go! It’s fabulous!

We also just learned that CSUN is one of 19 finalists nationally for the Climate Leadership Awards managed by Second Nature’s American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment. The winners will be announced in November.

Sustainable practices aren’t just the right thing to do – as we prepare students for a more sustainable future, it is also an opportunity for learning and to make it a regular part of our curriculum.

This year, we are developing a new master’s degree program in sustainability and this past spring, 73 students declared sustainability as a minor, representing nearly a 50% increase over the prior year.

And, of course, students can build their general education course path around sustainability by taking classes where faculty have incorporated sustainability education into the course curriculum.

The importance of preparing our students to live a more sustainable and resilient lifestyle for the sake of the environment and their quality of life truly brings home our responsibility to the students we serve and to our surrounding communities as we are “stewards of place.” We want to graduate students who will be engaged citizens and leaders in their communities for living and promoting healthy, sustainable and resilient communities. We need to do our part to ensure that the world is clean, healthy and sustainable.


Using athletics as a tool for engagement

The last, but not least, priority is athletics as a tool for engagement. Like the other priorities, success in this area serves to advance our other goals, like student success, planning for a future less dependent on state funding and raising CSUN’s reputation and visibility. And it doesn’t mean that athletics is more important than other areas – like performing arts – but it was not being leveraged sufficiently so we needed to focus.

I want to commend Athletics for another exciting and successful year:

  • For the second year in a row, our women’s basketball team, under the leadership of Coach Jason Flowers, won the Big West Conference Championship, earning a spot in the NCAA Regionals.
  • And both Softball, under Coach Tairia Flowers, and Women’s Track and Field, under Head Coach Avery Anderson, also were Big West Conference champions.

But, of course, it is not just about winning in competition – it’s also about excelling in the classroom. And we have invested heavily in the academic success of our athletes to ensure they do well and graduate.

  • There is, of course, the Matador Achievement Center we established in 2013 with the support of an NCAA grant to advance the academic achievement of our student-athletes. The Center tutors in more than 30 subject areas each semester and our summer success program enters its second year with near 100% retention of the first year cohort. 
  • And on the heels of the just-concluded three-year NCAA Accelerating Academic Success Program grant, CSUN has just received a $100,000 grant from the NCAA that supports a partnership between the university and the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education to provide first- and second-year student-athletes with the tools and support needed to build confidence, set high expectations, and develop strong intellectual capabilities. These skills will prepare them for academic success and in the real world as they make career choices and engage in life-long learning.
  • We have hired a new Senior Associate Athletics Director for Academics, Teiana Jones, who started this week, and appointed a new Faculty Athletics Representative, Dr. Ed Jackiewicz, who will also chair an independent faculty committee that will look at current patterns of student athlete course and major selection and making recommendations for any programmatic changes.
  • Another indication of academic success is the record number of student athletes – 81 – who were inducted into this year’s Varsity N Academic Athletics Honor Roll, the most ever!

There is so much other excellent work going on in Athletics in support of student success and raising the visibility of the university: the student athletes, coaches and staff are involved in the community; 9 teams received a perfect 1,000 Academic Progress Rate score; Tennis Head Coach Gary Victor and Women’s Track and Field Head Coach Avery Anderson were named Big West Coaches of the Year in their respective sports; and overall spectator attendance in men’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and softball went up.

I’d like to update you that we are continuing in a long and arduous investigative process in Athletics, related to our men’s basketball team. We continue forward into the 2015-16 basketball season with determination and optimism, mindful at each step of the way of the best interests of all involved, especially our student athletes. As with other bumps we have encountered together as a campus community, we deal with it all head on and with great integrity. This is no exception. My thanks to Dr. Brandon Martin, Coach Reggie Theus and Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies Elizabeth Adams for their leadership in this matter.

Continuing our momentum, Athletics has also just re-launched its website and this spring announced the CSUN Sports Network, a multimedia platform that will create and showcase extensive video content for the web and social media, expanding the ways in which fans can interact with their favorite Matador teams.

I hope all of you will demonstrate your support and appreciation by attending a sports event in the coming year and inviting others to come with you. Bring your families.

Finally, I also want to acknowledge the incredible work of Thor Steingraber and his staff at VPAC. They have hosted a number of campus and community events. Their upcoming season is phenomenal and they continue to integrate our students and faculty into this venue. Thank you, VPAC.

Conclusion

As I hope my remarks have shown, what a great time it is for CSUN. A great time in our use of analytics to help our decision-making about our students, faculty and the campus.  A great time for our diversity efforts; a great time for creating a culture of respect among everyone; a great time for fundraising; a great time with a new provost; And a great time for just being here at CSUN and moving us up another floor on the incredible foundation that we are now building on. 

Next week we welcome back our students. The students who give us the 42,000 reasons to shine and excel.

Thank you for your efforts, welcome back, and I wish you all a fantastic academic year.