CSU Audit of Move Crew Activities
This past July, in response to two allegations about the activities of the Cal State Northridge move crew, I requested an investigation that has been conducted by the University Auditor of the California State University. Now that the report is complete, I am free to discuss the findings and our response.
The first finding, which involves me personally, was that the move crew inappropriately moved the offices of OFS, Inc., a private company where my husband works. When I was consulted about the prospective move, I thought of it as an opportunity for our workers to earn extra money on their own time, using their own equipment. My thinking was flawed because I did not take into account that, as a university official, my involvement created undue influence on the move crew. I accept responsibility for permitting an incident that was unsettling to the university community and the staff who were involved.
I've reflected about this incident a great deal because it became a personal lesson for me about how our actions, however well meaning, can be, in fact, improper. As an institution of higher learning, CSUN has continued to learn from trying circumstances. I realized that we do not have an institutional set of ethical principles to provide guidance in deciding issues where there is a conflict of values. Consequently, I have asked our Center for Ethics and Values to draft such a document for the campus and am grateful that Dr. Oscar Marti, director of the center, has agreed to do so.
Not only will the ethical principles encourage a rich dialogue about these matters, they should help university faculty and staff avoid the kind of mistake I made.
The second allegation was an unrelated claim that the move crew was improperly paid overtime wages for hours not worked and that the wages were reimbursed by Federal Emergency Management Agency funds. That allegation was not confirmed by the investigation. A simultaneous probe of this allegation by FEMA was also dropped recently.
The audit report made seven ancillary recommendations for improvements in campus administrative policies in the following areas: policies for resolving potential conflicts; the organizational structure controlling the move crew; controls over campus keys; criminal records verification (for positions of risk, sensitivity, or as required by law); driver's license verification; charging policies for truck leases to FEMA; and control of off-site warehouses. The campus, through the Division of Administration and Finance, has responded to the report, describing our plans for implementing each of the recommendations.
More significantly, we have engaged Scott Hughes and Associates to conduct a comprehensive review of our financial management and fiscal controls, as recommended in the report. This work will involve all budget and financial management offices within the university and each auxiliary. Scott Hughes and Associates began their work at the beginning of October.
Adversity, if dealt with properly, can make individuals and institutions stronger. I look forward to the positive changes we are implementing and welcome your comments and suggestions.
Surveys on Campus
As the university celebrates its 40th anniversary and prepares for reaccreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), this has become a busy year for several data collection efforts on campus. Several studies sponsored by both Cal State Northridge and the Chancellor's Office involve surveys of faculty, staff and students. To help members of the campus community distinguish the various surveys - especially those of you who may be asked to fill out one or more of them - I provide a brief description below of the different initiatives that are collecting data over the next several months.
As part of the university self-study for WASC re-accreditation, surveys have been conducted of all faculty and a random sample of students. The surveys gathered information for the three WASC task forces that the university targeted for assessment: promoting student achievement, assessing student learning, and using technology to enhance learning. Faculty and students were asked their perceptions about such areas as advisement, current and future use of technology, and instruction. Students were also asked about study and work habits as well as their satisfaction with their university experience. Two special forums will be conducted later his month to allow staff to contribute to the WASC process. Recent alumni will be also surveyed later this month.
Economic Impact Study
In conjunction with the university's 40th anniversary, a study is also being conducted about the economic and cultural impact of the University on the surrounding communities. This study will help us, our neighbors, and our business partners understand the tangible economic, cultural and social contributions that Cal State Northridge makes to the community every day. As background information for this study, a survey went out in the first week of October to all faculty and staff to determine their spending amounts and patterns. A random sample of students will also be surveyed to determine their economic impact on the area.
Chancellor's Office Surveys
The Chancellor's Office is also conducting studies on our campus this fall and spring. This fall, there will be a telephone survey of a randomly selected group of students to determine their knowledge of and attitudes about information technology. In the spring, the Student Needs and Priorities Survey (SNAPS) will again be conducted to capture student perceptions of a wide variety of issues, including access, instruction, academic and student services, and factors influencing time to degree. This survey is conducted by the Chancellor's Office every five years and provides important longitudinal data to the campuses about their students.
If you are selected to participate in one of these surveys, I hope you will take a few moments to respond to the questions and return them promptly; the higher the response rate, the better our information will be. In turn, this information will help us in developing action plans to meet our long-term strategic goals.
Communities in Schools of San Fernando Program
The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has received a $100,000 grant to conduct an evaluation of the Communities in Schools of San Fernando Program. The appropriation for the grant was made available through AB 2650. The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Tony Cardenas and approved by the Governor and the California State Legislature.
The purpose of the project is to determine the effectiveness of Communities in Schools of San Fernando, a non-profit program that grew from a local gang truce five years ago. In the program, former gang members and others counsel youths on managing anger and conflict peacefully and civilly. The goal of this evaluation is to determine the program's effectiveness with the hope that it can be introduced in other communities.
AB 2650 specified that one CSU campus was to be designated to conduct the study. We are very pleased to have been selected by the Chancellor's Office for the project, particularly given our long record of partnership with the San Fernando community. Dr. William Flores, Dean of the College, and Dr. Ron Vogel, Associate Dean, will serve as principal investigators for the study.
First Campus Satellite Uplink
I would like to extend my congratulations to the National Center on Deafness (NCOD), which presented the campus's first satellite uplink with a live national telecast on September 24. The program linked 110 universities in 43 states. Some of the remote sites, in turn, broadcast the program live on cable access television in their respective cities. Participants from other sites were able to participate and interact through questions sent by fax.
The program, "Focus on Faculty: Effective Pedagogy with Students Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing," consisted of panelists Dr. Barbara Boyd, Dr. Elliot McIntire, Dr. Elena Marchisotto, and Dr. Maureen Rubin from this campus. Mr. Herb Larson, Director of the NCOD, served as host. Technical support for the program was made possible by Educational Technology and Distance Learning Services in the College of Extended Learning and Creative Media Services. Special recognition should go to Ms. Allisun Kale from the NCOD, Mr. Tom Poehlmann of Creative Media Services, and Ms. Peg Auchterlonie of Educational Technology and Distance Learning Services.
Congratulations to everyone who participated, and my thanks for giving the university and the NCOD tremendous visibility in a national setting.
Undergraduate Teacher Education Program
I'm pleased to announce that Cal State Northridge has been selected, along with four other California State University campuses, to receive a grant from the Stewart Foundation to design an integrated undergraduate teacher education program. The grant, which will run from January through June 1999 and be administered by the Institute for Education Reform in the Chancellor's Office, is designed to help develop high-quality teacher education programs for undergraduate students.
Given the Chancellor's strong commitment to improving teacher education in the CSU - and the need for the CSU to respond to the state's challenge to produce more teachers who are better prepared and trained for the modern classroom - we are proud to have been awarded a grant. Our congratulations especially to Dr. Mary Kay Tetreault, Interim Dean for the College of Education, and her faculty and staff for receiving approval for their application.
In early and mid-November, Cal State Northridge will host a visiting debate team from Xi'an Foreign Language University in the People's Republic of China. In addition to debating the Cal State Northridge debate team on November 13, the delegation will visit and debate other university teams, including Fresno State University and South Orange College. They will also participate in a wide variety of cultural and historical events and tour sites designed to expose them to life in the United States, particularly California.
Cal State Northridge has always maintained strong relations with its sister institutions in China and we look forward to welcoming the debate team, led by Professor Baozhu Yu, to Northridge. I hope you will join me in making their visit enjoyable and supporting both debate teams when they meet on November 13 at 8 p.m. in the university's business auditorium. "Resolved; Equality Between the Sexes Can Never Be Achieved" is the topic of the debate.
My thanks, too, to Dr. Mack Johnson, Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies, Research and International Programs, and his staff for arranging this visit.
First Report of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center
In early September, the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center, based in the College of Business Administration and Economics, released its first Report of Findings on the San Fernando Valley Economy for 1998. The 63-page report, which was well received by the media and business community, is the first of its kind to concentrate on the San Fernando Valley economy.
I commend everyone associated with the report, including Dr. Shirley Svorny, Director of the center and Professor in the Department of Economics, and Dr. William Hosek, Dean of the College of Business Administration and Economics. The growing stature of the Valley as a community with its own identity - as seen through recent proposals that have emerged for the Valley's secession from Los Angeles - all indicate the increased civic pride that exists for the area. Cal State Northridge is proud to be part of this community, and we hope the work of the Center will help further everyone's understanding of the important contributions that the Valley makes to Southern California and the state.
I am pleased to acknowledge several university programs that have been recently accredited:
The College of Education recently received accreditation from the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing for the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program in English and initial accreditation for professional preparation programs for the Education Specialist Credential in mild/moderate disabilities, moderate/severe disabilities, deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and early childhood special education. Also awarded accreditation by the commission were the Pupil Personnel Services School Psychology Credential Program and the Professional Preparation for the Multiple and Single Subject Credentials, BCLAD Emphasis in Korean.
Congratulations to Interim Dean Tetreault and the departmental faculty within the College of Education for these accreditations. As mentioned earlier, the renewed commitment to teacher education in the CSU has made the College's success essential to the university's mission.
The baccalaureate program in Environmental and Occupational Health Science received accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. Its review noted that our industrial hygiene faculty have: excellent credentials, clearly understand regional and state needs, and are preparing graduates to meet the needs. The faculty have an admirable focus on students and the students were very complimentary of the faculty. The atmosphere, morale and general relationship between faculty and students is excellent.
The report further noted a strong internship program.
I commend Dr. Miriam Cotler, Chair of the Department of Health Sciences, Dr. Ann Stutts, Dean of the College of Health and Human Development, and the program's interdisciplinary faculty for the accreditation and the strong commitment that they demonstrate to student-centeredness. While some weaknesses were found in the master's component of the program, Dr. Cotler and Dean Stutts have expressed confidence that they will be able to meet the requirements requested by the time the master's program applies for accreditation in two years.
Support Matador Sports
Finally, I would like to call attention to one of Southern California's best kept secrets, the Matador football team. Under the leadership of Coach Ron Ponciano, the team has surpassed all expectations with a four game winning streak against quality teams. With its victory over the no._18th-ranked Montana University Grizzlies on October 10, the team was ranked no. 16. Ranked the previous week at 23, this season is the first time that a CSUN football team has been nationally ranked in the top 25. My congratulations to Coach Ponciano and his players for this well earned respect and recognition.
If you haven't seen a game yet this season, I encourage you and your family to attend one soon, or any of the other games offered by other sports. This has been an exciting season for all of our sports teams, and I encourage you to support them.
Blenda J. Wilson