November 16, 2001
To the Campus Community:
As you know, one of my priorities for CSUN is to strengthen internal and external connections. Over the past months, you have noticed changes in internal and external publications, all aimed at improving the way we share information and represent the university to the community. We are continuing to improve, and I am pleased to write my first "President's letter" to the campus community. This letter will be narrower in scope than From the President's Desk and will focus on the significant issues that affect the university's mission, values, annual goals, and initiatives. General news and information for the campus community will now be published in the bi-weekly newspaper, @csun, and its supplement, @csun Extra.
On August 24, during my second annual convocation address, I spoke about what I learned during my first year as president. My thesis was stated simply and directly: I learned, above all else, that this is a great university. While we have certainly identified areas that need attention, the university's accomplishments, achievements, and indispensability to the San Fernando Valley and the region underscore this view. We serve one of the nation's most diverse student populations by providing them with the skills and knowledge that are critical in the development of lifelong learners. This great university plays an integral role in the creation of a successful citizenry for the valley; for this, we should be proud. Faculty are involved in cutting-edge teaching, research, and scholarship that contribute to the quality of our students' education and lives. This work puts us on the educational forefront in important areas, including assessment of student learning outcomes, service learning, use of information technology in academic programs, and in demonstrating accountability to our community.
As I have stated in my meetings with the colleges, departments, and community groups, our success in these areas is tangible and should be a source of great pride. We should be proud of our re accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, a process through which CSUN was hailed a "model public urban university." The university is proud of Biology Professor Maria Elena Zavala's selection as CSUN's first Wang Family Excellence Award recipient. Our greatness can be seen in our winning the IndiGo Award, presented to CSUN as Southern California's top film school by the Association of Independent Feature Film Producers. And surely we should be proud that we broke our own record in surpassing our fundraising goal, bringing in a total of more than $14,000,000 in private support.
These examples underscore CSUN's excellence. It is important for all of us to acknowledge and take pride in these strengths and to tell those in our community and the region about this great university. Telling the surrounding community about the advantages of having a large university here is one of the most important and enjoyable aspects of my presidential responsibilities. I hope all of you will share in telling the wonderful story of Cal State Northridge.
This record of accomplishments that we will showcase and build on in the coming years is tempered by several challenges we face. By now, you have received my memorandum on the university budget. Clearly, we will need to focus our attention on what is happening at the state and national level because we are affected locally. For those of us who have worked in the CSU for a long time, the budget cuts we face now will call upon our experience in working through such financial constraints. I am optimistic that the members of our campus community will pull together, in creative ways, to ensure that we deliver the same quality education that we always have. I have asked the University Planning and Budget Group (UPBG) to take an active role in addressing concerns and issues related to how the university will redirect resources to guarantee the success of our educational mission. I am committed to an open exchange of information on budget issues, and UPBG is functioning to advise and assist me in this effort.
I also want to assure the campus community that we are working very hard to ensure that the university is safe during this time of uncertainty. This is an obligation the administration considers as primary in our ongoing discussions of the university's welfare. We have taken necessary precautions and have put processes in place so that we are prepared to deal with emergencies. I ask all of you to be vigilant and to share in the responsibility for keeping the university safe. I am confident that, through our preparedness, we can all feel secure as we work and study at CSUN.
During the troubled times following the September 11 attacks, the campus has participated in many activities that demonstrate our community strength and our commitment to diversity and tolerance for all people. At this time, it is also important to remember that a university is a place that engenders, supports, and thrives on intellectual debate through expression of opposing points of view. Many find such dialogue troubling and unsettling; however, this is the nature of intellectual debate. The university provides the forum for us to express our ideas respectfully while we also acknowledge that differing viewpoints exists as well. Such constructive debating is a sign of the good academic health of the university. I want to commend all of you who have made an effort to exercise good judgment, patience, and calm during these trying times. It is clear that we can depend on each other to do the right thing.
I want to thank especially all faculty, staff, and students who have participated in events and activities organized by the Aftermath Committee under the leadership of Provost Louanne Kennedy. These events have provided us with appropriate venues for reflecting on what is happening in our nation and the world. I would like to express my pride in how we, as a community, have remained united, tolerant, and strong through our thoughtful responses and caring. Surely, this is one of the major attributes of this great university.
I wish all of you continued success in your work through the end of this year.