Message to the Campus Community on EOP

Jolene Koester
President


February 10, 2004

To the Campus Community:

Last month, trying to cope with the state's multi-billion-dollar deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a package of budget cutbacks and fee increases for 2004/05 that would impact the California State University system. Although the outcome of these proposals likely will not be settled until this summer or fall, and the details may well change along the way, the recommended cuts and fee increases clearly are causing considerable concern among students, faculty and staff on our campus and elsewhere.

In response to that, we will begin providing a series of periodic budget messages for the Cal State Northridge community, offering updated information and explaining the Cal State system and CSUN perspectives on these issues. This message focuses on the governor's proposal to eliminate the longstanding Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and reduce student outreach in the Cal State system through a specifically targeted $52 million reduction for 2004/05 ($37 million related to EOP).

I want you to know the entire California State University system-- Chancellor Charles B. Reed, the Board of Trustees, all of the campus presidents including myself, and many other groups -- has strongly and vocally opposed these proposed cuts from the outset and will continue to do so. EOP, which helps highly motivated low-income and first-generation college students gain admission in the CSU and then succeed once here, is a critical and valued component of our formula for student success. Likewise, our student outreach and EOP programs reach many local middle and high schools, helping disadvantaged students understand that college truly is possible.

The CSU and Chancellor Reed have been joined in this strong stance by University of California President Robert Dynes, California Community Colleges Chancellor Thomas Nussbaum and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, who wrote to the governor and state legislators in December calling these programs "a core part of California's public educational mission." On a personal level, I deeply share this belief and know firsthand how higher education literally transforms the lives of our young people. We absolutely owe them this kind of continuing outreach and support.

At the same time, because we recognize the serious fiscal challenges facing California, we have offered an alternative approach that should fare better in Sacramento compared to simply arguing against these cuts. Instead of targeting EOP and outreach, we have asked the governor and the Legislature to give the CSU full flexibility in managing whatever general budget reductions we ultimately receive. If they agree to this approach, here at Cal State Northridge, we have committed that EOP and student outreach would be maintained and face no larger budget reductions than the rest of the campus. With strong support in the state Legislature for EOP and student outreach programs, we have good reason to hope this alternative plan will succeed.

Throughout the spring semester and into the fall, as significant budget developments impacting the campus occur, I have asked Vice President for Administration and Finance Mo Qayoumi to keep the campus updated through various means including future campus budget messages and articles in @CSUN, our biweekly faculty-staff newspaper. The university also will be working with the Daily Sundial so students will broadly receive this information. Given the state's budget situation, there likely are many twists and turns ahead. Please know that we are fighting hard during this process to preserve the academic excellence and access to higher education that are our hallmark principles.

 

Jolene Koester
President



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February 2004