February 11, 1997
Federal Support for Higher Education
On January 30, 1997, Chancellor Munitz, various California higher education officials, and I testified at a hearing on the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Bill. The hearing was convened by Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon and held on the CSUN campus. Most of the testimony was directed toward improving federal financial aid policies to encourage college attendance by students from middle and lower income families.
President Clinton's State of the Union address on February 4th gave more attention to higher education than any such address in recent history. His budget priorities include:
- increasing the maximum Pell Grant to $3000 a year per student. (The current maximum is $2700.)
- changing the government's formula for deciding Pell Grant eligibility, in order to make the grants available to single, independent students.
- reducing the fee that most borrowers pay on their federal student loans from 4% to 2%
- allowing families with incomes of up to $100,000 to establish IRAs, and allowing penalty-free withdrawals for educational expenses.
- allowing working families to claim income tax deductions of up to $10,000 a year for any college tuition or job training
- expanding the employer-provided educational assistance provisions in the current law to include graduate education, and extending it to the year 2000.
- offering "Hope Scholarship" tax credits of up to $1500 per student annually for two years, with students eligible for a second year if they maintain a B average the first year.
The renewed interest in higher education by the President and Congress is encouraging. We will watch the budget debate very carefully.
Report on the 1997/98 Governor's Budget
On a similarly positive note, the recently released 1997 Governor's Budget has reaffirmed the State's commitment to higher education by proposing a third year of funding consistent with the provisions of the four-year budget compact. In addition, the CSU budget includes $30.4 million in fee offset funding which will eliminate the need to increase the State University Fee in 1997/98 - resulting in four straight years of constant State University Fees.
The Governor's budget funds virtually 100% of the additional resources requested by the Trustees in their 1997/98 budget, allowing the CSU to support 2,499 new FTE students, fund 1997/98 salary increases, improve the maintenance of facilities, and advance our Integrated Technology Strategy.
The Governor has also signaled his continuing support for the outreach efforts of the CSU by adding $1 million in new funding to expand systemwide outreach through the Precollegiate Academic Development Program.
The Governor's budget supports the CSU's new policy on public-private partnerships by adding $1.7 million to the operating budget (plus $2.5 million in capital improvements) for the conversion of the Stockton Development Center to the CSU Stanislaus Regional Center. When completed, the new off-campus center will be shared by the four CSU campuses, San Joaquin Delta Junior College, and the University of the Pacific. It will provide both traditional and distance learning modes of instruction. This project, like our proposed MarketCenter Development, is an example of the increased emphasis within the state on achieving new revenue sources to support the educational mission of the university.
The proposed 1997/98 budget has been submitted to the Legislature and should be approved by July 1st.
Web Site Preliminary Injunction
On January 29, 1997, Judge Diane Wayne of the Los Angeles Superior Court signed an Order and Preliminary Injunction in the case of Landers v. Trustees of the California State University. The order reads:
a) the Board of Trustees of the California State University is hereby enjoined from enforcing regulations or policies prohibiting the use of the California State University, Northridge, computer server in a political manner; b) Landers need post no bond; and c) all other relief sought by the Application for Preliminary Injunction is denied.
You will recall that this lawsuit was brought when a CSUN student used the university's server and his university account to create a Web page which promoted a specific political candidate in last November's general election. The student asked for a permanent injunction prohibiting the campus from blocking his account and citing constitutional protection of free speech and due process laws. At the hearing the judge found that our original computer/technology policy had created a limited public forum and that neither the original nor the amended policy meet the strict scrutiny standard the court applies to free speech rights. The preliminary injunction prohibits the campus from removing or blocking partisan speech transmitted via the campus computers/servers/networks.
Based on the preliminary advice of counsel, we expect that the University will move to offer motions on the permanent injunction and its underlying legal issues. In the meantime, the campus will abide by the specific language of the court order and the policy recommended by the Faculty Senate on December 2, 1996, which I have approved.
In another court case related to the Internet a federal judge ruled that the University of Oklahoma had not violated a professor's First Amendment rights when it blocked campus access to sex-related discussions groups on the Internet. U.S. District Judge Wayne E. Alley found that the university's internet services are not a public forum, and the university has the right to provide access to only those computer services that it deems to have academic or research uses.
As we've expected, these cases represent emerging law; we will keep you advised on our legal proceedings and cases related to university policies on internet and web page access.
Campus Blood Drive
We have a special reason to participate in the Campus Blood Drive coming to the University Student Union on March 4, 5, and 6, 1997. As some of you may know, Ms. Nancy (Lulu) Falls, the Director of Space Planning and Management, is being treated at Norris Cancer Hospital for a rare form of leukemia. During the course of her treatment she has needed and will continue to need blood and blood products. Lulu has been a volunteer for the American Red Cross Emergency Services for many years and is keenly aware that the Red Cross is facing a severe shortage of blood at this time.
Please show your support for Lulu and others who need blood by participating in the spring Blood Drive. You may also schedule times to donate blood for Lulu and others with Barbara Vallaire in the Student Health Center at ext. 3690. All blood types are needed.
Five Year Review of Vice President Ronald R. Kopita
As part of our University administrative procedures, vice presidents receive a campus-wide evaluation review every five years. The review provides an excellent opportunity for the individual to receive valuable feedback about his/her performance in providing leadership and direction to the University. The five year review of Vice President Ron Kopita will be conducted during the 1997 Spring term by a committee which is chaired by Professor Barbara Swerkes. Other members of the committee include Associated Students President Vladimir Cerna, Dean Carolyn Ellner, Assistant Vice President William Watkins, and Professors Roberta Madison and Christie Logan.
An important part of the review process includes wide distribution of a questionnaire soliciting university comments about Dr. Kopita. The committee plans to distribute the questionnaire to a wide sample of the campus community in late February.
In addition, we invite faculty, students and staff who would like to contribute to this review to obtain a copy of the questionnaire by contacting Professor Swerkes at x3210 or Mr. Cerna at x2477.
I regret to announce that Ms. Judy Winfield, President's Aide, has left her position in my office to pursue a new small business opportunity in the private sector. She brought great maturity and calm to a very busy office, and we will miss her.
In the interim, I have asked Ms. Veronica Santa Maria of my staff to assume the responsibility of assisting me in scheduling my calendar. Many of you already know Veronica, and I hope you will assist her in adjusting to her new, interim responsibilities.
We will be advertising shortly to fill a position of Staff Assistant to the President, a new position that will include the responsibility for coordinating scheduling and managing office operations. With assistance from the Office of Human Resources and my staff, I will also be reviewing the capacity of current staffing arrangements to assure that we are able to handle the demands of the office effectively.
Spring Community Forum
We are pleased to announce the date for the Spring Community Forum. It will be held in the Grand Salon of the University Student Union on March 5, 1997. As has become our practice, two identical sessions will be conducted, one starting at 11:30 a.m. and a second starting at 1:00 p.m. Many of you know the Community Forum provides an opportunity for me to share the latest news regarding campus issues and, more importantly, to hear from you about those issues you think are important for a campus discussion. All members of the University community are invited to attend. If you have specific issues you would like to discuss at the Forum, please feel free to contact my office or send us an e-mail in advance of the forum, so that we will be sure to address your concerns. I look forward to your attendance and our discussion on March 5th.
Blenda J. Wilson