October 18, 2002
We are already well into the fall 2002 semester, and I know this is an exceptionally busy and challenging time for all of us. During my third annual Convocation Address in September, I described Cal State Northridge as "a university on the move." This year, the hard work and terrific accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff have truly underscored this theme. I am constantly reminded of how privileged I am to be working with so many dedicated and talented individuals. So let me take the opportunity of this semester's President's letter to cite some of those achievements and some of the future challenges we face.
One of our most immediate challenges is a continuing and very significant surge in enrollment. This semester, we have a record-high 32,596 students enrolled at the Northridge campus, a gain of eight percent and nearly 2,500 students compared to this time last year. We should take great pride in knowing that CSUN has increasingly become a desirable "destination campus" for so many students. Yet because our enrollment significantly exceeds our state funding, we also are continuing to fine-tune our enrollment management policies to find the best balance of maintaining the high quality of the University's academic programs while keeping our commitment to provide access for qualified students.
Our ability to handle rising enrollments also is affected by the state's ongoing budget difficulties. I recently approved the University budget for 2002-03, a plan that should enable us to meet our commitment to maintain academic quality by continuing to hire new faculty and meet students' needs. This year, because of the possibility of mid-year budget cuts sometime after the November election, we have proceeded very prudently, setting aside increased levels of reserve funds in an effort to protect University programs from turbulent mid-year reductions. Such budget fluctuations are part of the ebb and flow of state funding for public higher education institutions. But as the University's achievements last year showed, we have the strength and momentum to excel.
We do, meanwhile, have some significant opportunities to increase our financial support, particularly for facilities. The first is Proposition 47, a statewide bond measure on the November 5 ballot that would provide $1.6 billion in funding for California's public higher education institutions including the Cal State system. (The other $11.4 billion of the $13 billion bond would go for K-12 projects.) At CSUN, this measure would fund a $15 million renovation of our Engineering building and provide $14.5 million toward replacing the Science 1 and 2 buildings. The bond also would provide $3.6 million in minor capital outlay funds for improvements to Sierra and Nordhoff Halls and our athletics facilities.
The other election item directly affecting CSUN is Proposition A, a Los Angeles County measure on the November 5 ballot to fund important fire and life safety projects at art and science facilities throughout the county. If passed by a two-thirds vote, Proposition A would provide $15 million in county matching funds toward the University's plans for a future, 1,600-seat Performing Arts Center to be built on the Music Lawn. Once built, our project will be the largest venue of its kind in the Valley, reinforcing CSUN's role as the cultural center for our region.
There are many important issues on the November ballot that merit your careful consideration. Please exercise your right to vote and urge others to vote. The deadline to register or re-register is Monday, October 21. For those wishing to vote by absentee ballot, requests must be received by the County Registrar-Recorder's office by Tuesday, October 29.
Lastly, let me recount just some of the many important accomplishments that truly make Cal State Northridge "a university on the move." On Friday, November 1, the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center in the College of Business and Economics will present its annual report of findings on the local economy at the Valley Industry and Commerce Association's Business Forecast Conference in Warner Center. In the College of Arts, Media, and Communication, kudos to the Northridge Singers for having been chosen to perform recently with Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
In the College of Science and Mathematics, CSUN is working with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help prepare undergraduate students, particularly minority students, for careers in scientific research through a $1.2 million NASA grant for our Partnership Awards for the Integration of Research (PAIR) program. In the College of Extended Learning, we just completed a very successful, U.S. State Department-sponsored training program for women professionals from the government of Afghanistan, with CSUN chosen as one of only four participating universities nationwide. In Student Affairs, the National Center on Deafness continues its preeminent role, having been awarded a three year, $930,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help better train teachers and administrators who deal with deaf students.
This last item also is very important for this university. Next week on Wednesday, October 23, CSUN will join with the Los Angeles Unified School District to celebrate a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Academy High School project north of the tennis courts that will begin construction in November and be completed in 2004. This future high school on our campus, intended to help prepare students for possible future teaching careers, will expand the University's already major commitment in the teacher preparation field. In this and so many other ways through your hard work, CSUN remains truly indispensable to our region.