November 25, 2015
To the Campus Community:
As we prepare to spend well-deserved time away from our day-to-day responsibilities as students, faculty and staff, connecting with family and loved ones, I am so tremendously thankful. I am thankful to have the honor of serving as President of such an impactful university that is opening the doors of opportunity for more than 40,000 students every year. I am also thankful to be a part of a vibrant learning community that embraces social justice, inclusion and diversity as essential university values.
As I spend the next few days with my family, I will be reflecting on the national movement that is bringing awareness and needed action to long-neglected issues of access, support for all students and the eradication of racism on campuses across the country. I strongly support this movement, as do many of our students who have expressed solidarity and shared their concerns with me. I look forward to further discussion and, more importantly, leading the way in taking those actions that ensure we live up to our values.
CSUN is one of the most diverse campuses in the country, and we are the proud home of some of the nation's oldest and largest ethnic studies departments. However, these distinctions alone do not fully demonstrate the values in which we believe. It is important that faculty and staff join me in reflecting on our student diversity and the large and small ways we can together ensure that all students experience success. For example, this past year, together we hired approximately 86 new faculty, half of whom are from traditionally underrepresented groups, and it is my hope that they will bring rich and diverse insights and approaches to teaching that meet the needs of our diverse student body. Also, in 2016, we expect to hire our first Chief Diversity Officer, who will report to me and lead our newly established Commission on Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives.
We have worked and will continue to work to create a positive environment that seeks to promote inclusive excellence. Achieving this goal means that we must be willing to establish programs that allow more equitable access to the college degree and enhance support services for degree completion. Addressing persistent achievement gaps for historically underrepresented students is a top priority and the focus of numerous programs, partnerships and initiatives.
There is still much work to do together. All voices are important, and we must work together in and out of the classroom to create a welcoming, accessible and respectful campus. We have an obligation to provide a campus environment that allows people to share their perspectives and hear others as well. We must ourselves be courageous and not tolerate those around us who discriminate against others. I am both optimistic and thankful that I have the opportunity to join with you in addressing the challenges and opportunities that stand before us as we continue to make CSUN one of the finest universities in our region and beyond.
I wish you a safe and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.
Dianne F. Harrison