President's Office

From the President's Desk February 10 1999

February 10, 1999

Dr. Ron Kopita to Leave Vice President Post

After more than six years of dedicated service to the university, Dr. Ronald Kopita has asked to leave his position as Vice President for Student Affairs effective June 5, the formal end of the spring semester.

During his tenure, Dr. Kopita has helped lead the campus toward our collective goal of fostering a more student-centered environment and also has overseen major achievements within the Student Affairs Division. Some of them include the creation of the Presidential Scholarship Program for high-achieving incoming freshmen, the creation of Student Outreach and Recruitment Services to enhance our enrollment management efforts, and coordination of the planning for the new one-stop Student Services Center building that is due to open this fall.

Starting in June, Dr. Kopita will be on administrative leave until the start of the spring 2000 semester to explore a range of professional options, including the prospect of teaching in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling where he is a tenured professor. Between now and June, the university will launch a national search for his successor. We hope to have selected a candidate by the summer in order to achieve a smooth transition.

The past several years, with the 1994 earthquake and other challenges, have certainly been unlike any in the history of the university, and Dr. Kopita has played an important role in helping us keep our students' needs foremost in our thoughts. It is therefore with the utmost gratitude that I extend our best wishes to him as he prepares to launch a new chapter in his professional life.

National Center on Deafness Director Named

I'm pleased to announce that the university has appointed Ms. Merri Pearson, an administrator with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., as the new director of Cal State Northridge's renowned National Center on Deafness (NCOD). Since 1994, Ms. Pearson has been a program officer and project officer with the Rehabilitation Services Administration and the Office of Special Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education, recently overseeing grant programs totaling about $45 million annually. During the past decade, she also has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at institutions including Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., George Washington University and the University of Puget Sound. She has also worked as a sign language interpreter.

As a hard-of-hearing individual herself, Ms. Pearson brings a deep personal knowledge of the challenges encountered by the approximately 250 deaf and hard-of-hearing CSUN students served by NCOD. Her task will be to continue and enhance the superb services provided by one of the truly exceptional programs on campus. Because Ms. Pearson currently is completing her doctorate at George Washington University, she will not arrive on campus until later in the spring.

I could not mention Ms. Pearsons's appointment without also recognizing the wonderful legacy of retiring NCOD Director Herbert Larson, who is continuing to guide the center in the interim. His nine years as NCOD director have chronicled the center becoming the largest single recipient of grant funding in the entire university. He led the university's successful bid to have NCOD receive the federal government's designation as the lead agency in the Western Regional Outreach Center and Consortia, responsible for assisting postsecondary programs and institutions that have deaf and hard-of-hearing students in this region. Ms. Pearson will have the pleasure of building on the firm foundation that he and the NCOD staff have established.

Campus Achievements

  • As part of its commitment to enhance teacher education in the California State University, the system has developed CSU TeacherNet, an innovative field-based, learner-centered program that provides an alternative to traditional on-campus teacher preparation programs. A major part of this approach is high-quality academic and student support materials using a variety of media. (I first discussed this program in the September 22, 1998, issue of From the President's Desk; you will recall that the project initially developed in partnership with the British Open University.)

I'm proud to announce that a proposal submitted by a Cal State Northridge team - led by Dr. John Hartzog, Director of Instructional Technology in Information Resources Technology - was one of the six proposals approved by the Office of the Chancellor to produce the initial video products for the project. These productions will involve developing original and repackaged instructional and informational videos for teachers and potential teachers who may have difficulty accessing traditional and other campus programs due to work obligations or distance. The selection of Dr. Hartzog's proposal speaks well of his and the Instructional Media Center's work and reputation in the areas of creating media and developing technology for use in higher education.

CSU TeacherNet is an innovative component of the university and the state's longterm strategic commitment to teacher education and K-12 education. My congratulations to Dr. Hartzog and his staff and colleagues for this achievement.


  • The news department of KCSN, the on-campus public radio station, recently won its 39th Golden Mike Award from the Radio Television News Association of Southern California in the category of Best Light Feature Reporting. Producer/reporter Claudine Ricanor was recognized for a story on illegal street racing in the San Fernando Valley.

On a similar note, KCSN producer/reporter Amy Joe received a Silver Reel Award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for her four-part series on "sweatshop" garment workers in Los Angeles.

These awards are but the latest for a department that has received numerous local, state and national recognitions for its on-air reporting - all the more remarkable given that this is the work of students in the Department of Journalism. I hope you will join me in congratulating Ms. Ricanor and Ms. Joe for receiving these awards, and Mr. Keith S. Goldstein, the news director at KCSN, for his excellent work in guiding these young journalists.


  • The Jump Start Program of the College of Business Administration and Economics, which is administered by the college's Business Student Equity Center, recently received a $50,000 Edison International New Era Award for Excellence in Higher Education. Six grants were awarded nationally. The award to Cal State Northridge was the only university outside of Edison International's service territory to receive such recognition.

The award recognizes "innovative collaborative efforts" between K-12 and higher education. It will help provide an educational support system for middle and high school students at risk of dropping out of school through a variety of programs and services such as scholarships and recognition events. Please join me in congratulating the college and the center for its success in obtaining support for its continued good work.


  • The Chancellor has just granted the university's approval to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Asian American Studies effective spring 1999. This is the first Asian American Studies degree program at a Southern California CSU campus.

The program is designed to help students develop the ability to understand the complex issues affecting Asian Americans and, more generally, issues of race, class and gender in the U.S. within a global context, using knowledge and skills from a variety of academic disciplines. It will also provide students seeking careers related to Asian American communities with skills and knowledge important to their success. The existing Asian American Studies minor has been popular with students. Given Southern California's and the state's importance to the Pacific Rim, I know the new major will attract many students and scholars. My congratulations to the chair of the department, Dr. George Uba, and his faculty for this recognition.


  • Approval has been also granted for a degree of Bachelor of Arts with a major in Biomedical Physics effective spring 1999. This interdisciplinary program will prepare students for a range of science-based careers, including secondary-school teaching and health professions for which professional preparation is at the postbaccalaureate leve. The program will be especially attractive to students with strong mathematical skills and an interest in biology or health.

Congratulations to the Department of Physics and Astronomy and its chair, Dr. Adrian Herzog, for adding this new degree to an already strong program.


  • Dr. Laurence Caretto, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, recently informed me that the college recently acquired a supercomputer for the campus. Made possible through a public-private partnership with Silicon Graphics and Lockheed-Martin, the university will have a three-year lease on the computer.

The presence of a supercomputer on campus brings further distinction to a college program that is well admired. I commend the college and particularly Dr. Steve Fitzgerald, Department of Computer Science, who led this effort to bring the supercomputer here and who will serve as principal investigator for the project. Congratulations, too, to Mr. James Moore, Director of Information Technology, and Dr. Tim Fox, Department of Mechanical Engineering, who contributed to this effort.


  • The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) recently approved an innovative online program in Speech Language Pathology that will begin in March. Offered through the College of Extended Learning in partnership with the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences in the College of Health and Human Development, WASC commended the university for its excellent work in conducting a feasibility study for the program, providing faculty training in distance education and developing a strong curriculum. Its letter of approval noted that "this approach by the university illustrates why CSUN has a strong track record in off-campus programs and is developing very good expertise in distance learning."

Everyone involved with developing this program should be proud of this strong commendation from one of the country's foremost accreditation agencies for higher education. Special thanks for their good work especially should go to Dean Joyce Feucht-Haviar, College of Extended Learning; Dr. J. Stephen Sinclair, chair of Communication Disorders and Sciences; Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies Margaret Fieweger; and Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies Mack Johnson.


  • Another "center of excellence" at Cal State Northridge is the Center on Disabilities, which which renders educational support and adapted technology services to more than 900 students, conducts the largest conference in the world on technology and disabilities, and conducts assistive technology training programs in this country and abroad.

This spring, the center sponsors its 14th annual, international Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott and Hilton hotels. More than 3,000 persons from almost every state and 30 foreign countries will be in attendance. This year's keynote speaker is Ted Kennedy, Jr., recently named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in America by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, an honor that also went to his uncle, President John F. Kennedy. The keynote speaker for the year 2000 will be Tom Whittaker, the first person with a disability to scale Mount Everest.

I would like to express my appreciation to Dr. Harry Murphy, founder and director of the center, and his entire staff, for their continued wonderful work on behalf of people with disabilities. For more information about all the programs of the center, their website may be found at http://www.csun/edu/cod.


  • I am pleased to extend my congratulations to Dr. Dianne Philibosian who has been elected to the Board of Regents of the University of the Pacific. She is resigning as Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Development to take a leave from Cal State Northridge to pursue her role as a Regent. I know you will join me in expressing appreciation to Dr. Philibosian who has provided leadership as Associate Dean for 11 years and served in a dual role as Director of Development for the College of Health and Human Development for the past two years.

A similar announcement about Dr. Philibosian appeared in a previous From the President's Desk; we learned that it contained some errors. We regret the oversight and are pleased to have the opportunity to correct it.

Annual Report on Program Review

The Chancellor's Office requests annually that each CSU submit a summary of the university program reviews that were completed during the academic year. During the 1997-98 term external program/accreditation reviews took place for the following programs at Cal State Northridge:

Anthropology (BA/MA): External reviewers praised the faculty for effective teaching, high quality research and their efforts to address students' needs. They commended the department for impressive instructional materials and for the Northridge Center for Public Archaeology.

Biology (BA/BS/MS): External reviewers found a highly regarded department within the university with productive faculty who maintain student-oriented research programs. The department was commended for its track record of placing graduates into jobs and graduate/ professional programs.

Computer Science (MS): External reviewers found a conscientious, dedicated faculty who deliver the newest, most advanced material in their courses. Faculty were also commended for grants obtained from corporate, government and other sources and for a high level of cooperation with the Computer Science industry.

Engineering (MS): External reviewers described a qualified faculty who are enthusiastic about teaching and professional activities, provide excellent advisement for students, and have received funding from industry and government agencies to support their research.

English (BA/MA): External reviewers praised faculty as strong scholars and committed teachers who are productive and current in their fields. Reviewers felt the student publications New Voices and Wings deserved special mention. Composition courses are clearly designed and organized with abundant support services.

Environmental & Occupational Health (Industrial Hygiene Program) (BS/MS): The BS program was approved upon this initial request for ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation. ABET found a program with an admirable reputation in the region and statewide. Faculty were commended for their excellent credentials and for the excellent atmosphere, morale and general faculty/student relationship.

Family Environmental Sciences (Interior Design Program)(BS): The program was accredited on it first attempt by FIDER (Foundation for Interior Design Education Research). FIDER was impressed that the university offers students a rich cultural environment and exposes students to the basic and creative arts as well as design theory. They commended the program for quality work and the department members' positive attitude throughout the department.

Journalism (BS): The department was re-accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The visiting team recognized the department's excellent ties to a rich media market as one of several strengths. The student body was found to be exceptionally enthusiastic and supportive. Both full-time and part-time faculty were praised for enthusiastic and engaging teaching.

Kinesiology (BA/MS): External reviewers found a department that serves as an active learning center. The program has a well-established reputation for its broadbased curriculum and a strong faculty committed to scholarship and teaching. Notable facilities include the Center of Achievement for the Physically Disabled.

Leisure Studies and Recreation (BS/MS): The department received re-accreditation from the National Recreation and Park Association. The review team found a faculty committed to the accreditation process, an administration that was very supportive of the department, and students who believed they were getting an excellent education. The Therapeutic Recreation option is a strong program and students routinely exceed the national average on the national certification exam, the team said.

Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures (BA/MA): External reviewers praised the highly professional department for its student/faculty rapport and collegiality within the department across all language sections. The reviewers observed innovative programs involving the community and creative student projects. Of special mention were the state-of-the art Language Learning Center and initiatives in technology for distance learning.

Philosophy (BA): External reviewers commended the faculty for redesign of the critical reasoning program and for supporting other departments wishing to offer critical reasoning. Faculty were praised for promoting quality research and for maintaining a high quality curriculum. Students receive excellent advisement and praise faculty as effective teachers. The reviewers noted the two highly respected journals published by the department, Nous and Philosophical Perspectives.

Should you wish to have additional information about these reviews, please contact Dr. Margaret Fieweger, Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies, in Academic Affairs. In addition to providing public accountability for quality, the program review process continuously demonstrates the academic distinction and excellence of a Cal State Northridge education. My congratulations and thanks to departmental faculty, deans and staff for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of our students.

Blenda J. Wilson

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