President Jolene Koester delivered her annual convocation message to a large campus audience on Thursday, Aug. 21. Following are excerpts from her address:
- The most important thing to report about the status of this university is that we can celebrate the pride in and recognition of our mission, which is to serve the higher educational needs of the people of this region. Within the University, as well as in the external community, increasingly people recognize how indispensable Cal State Northridge is to this region.
- Our size alone establishes us as an economic force. All of our academic programs help to provide the intellectual capital for the region by providing an educated work force. The strong emphasis of our academic programs, which places our students in the community to learn and then to serve, positions us as a major force in meeting the human needs for those who live in this region.
- Our strong arts and cultural programs provide the anchor to the Valley's creative and cultural spirit. As a university we have also had a clear, unequivocal commitment to access, which allows the people of this region the opportunity to get a college degree.
- Our Michael D. Eisner College of Education went through a national and state accreditation process last fall with a near perfect record. The Northridge Singers again brought fame and acclaim to the campus by being named the best choir in an international competition held in Wales, bringing back to Northridge the title "Choir of the World." And in June, the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley selected Cal State Northridge as one of three honorees for its "Star of the Valley" award because of our academic excellence, describing CSUN as a nationally recognized university celebrating 45 years of outstanding scholastic achievement in the Valley.
- An understanding of the demographic indicators for our region suggests continued pressure for admission to our university. Given that we are almost at the approved enrollment ceiling, our choice is to grow to fulfill our mission of access or to start managing our enrollment by denying admissions to some.
- In order to map Cal State Northridge's longer term future, we need to come to agreement on a number of key elements: While it appears that we will not grow in 20042005, do we want to grow in the following years? If so, which parts of the university should grow? How do we manage the growth? Do all programs grow? What is the appropriate balance between undergraduate and graduate enrollment, and between lower division and upper division enrollment? If we choose not to grow, how do we set the limits and boundaries for admission to the university?
- I would not easily have Cal State Northridge simply turn its back on our historic commitment to making higher education possible for the people of this region. As one indicator of this commitment, we must be sure that we have done everything within our control to improve our students' rates of graduation from CSUN.
- The second major outside force buffeting the university is our budget from the state of California. The state budget situation, simply put, is bad now and looks to remain bad in the coming years, likely even through 2006.
- Now is the time for us to take a broader view of ourselves and our institution, considering the possibility of fundamental or transformational changes‹in every aspect of what we do, including teaching, student services, and business processes.
- We never will decide how much money we get from the state, but we owe it to ourselves and our community to very thoughtfully, carefully consider just what we do with it, and how we can provide the highest levels of both educational quality and access.
- I do know that Cal State Northridge's response to these three major forces‹enrollment, budget, and becoming a learner centered university‹will set the agenda for our work in support of the university, its students and the region it serves for the next half decade. The answers to these questions are complicated and interrelated. They will challenge us to come together as a community to consider our choices.
- For Cal State Northridge to continue its commitment to our mission, we must take into account the strong elements of the higher education terrain affecting all institutions. We must make fundamental changes in the way we do our work‹in instruction, student support services and in administrative processes. Our core strengths in meeting the challenges of the future are the quality of our programs and the vibrancy of our campus community.
@csun | August 25, 2003 issue
Public Relations | University Advancement
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