March 15, 2004 Vol. VIII, No. 12

Campus to Study 'Learning Centered University' Concept

William Plater, Expert on Student-Focused Education, Will Speak at Northridge on March 19

Cal State Northridge will formally launch its exploration of the "learning centered university" this month with an address by William Plater, a nationally known expert on the concept.

Plater, executive vice chancellor and dean of the faculties of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (left), will speak from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, March 19, in the Music Department's recital hall, Music Building 158.

Faculty, students and staff are invited to attend the lecture, which is expected to provide the university community with new insights into a concept described as a national shift from teaching to learning as the focus of higher education.

"In learning centered universities like Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis," said Plater, "students come first. We are interested in students more than as social beings; we are committed to their actual learning of things that can be demonstrated as a result of their having been at our institutions."

CSUN President Jolene Koester said the development of clear goals in that area will be critical to planning Cal State Northridge's future. Koester encouraged the campus community to seek additional background about the learning centered university concept at

In her August 2003 convocation address to the campus, the president said the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)--the body that accredits Northridge and other higher education institutions in the western United States--has directed institutions to become learning centered.

Cal State Northridge in 2007 will submit to WASC the first part of its next re-accreditation: a self-study demonstrating that it is a learning centered institution.

Within its academic departments, Northridge has begun setting goals and objectives in response to the WASC directive, Koester said. She noted that changes already have been made to the program review process, making student learning outcomes more central to departmental missions.

Koester, Interim Provost Linda Bain and Vice President for Student Affairs Terry Piper will hold informal campus dialogue sessions on the issue throughout the spring semester, prior to a more formal planning period in 2004/05.

Plater, who teaches contemporary American literature, was dean of IUPUI's School of Liberal Arts prior to serving as dean of the faculties. He was associate director of the School of Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1977 to 1983.

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