August 23, 2004 Vol. IX, No. 1

President Jolene Koester delivers her August 19 convocation address. At right are Faculty President Ronald McIntyre and Associated Students President Timothy Belfield (center).

President to Campus: 'People are Talking About Us!'

Convocation Address Cites University Achievements, Foresees Hard Work and 'Better Days' Ahead

Cal State Northridge's reputation as a "university on the move" is more firmly embedded in the public perception than ever before, said President Jolene Koester in her fifth annual convocation address.

"People are talking about us!" Koester told faculty and staff gathered on the Oviatt Library lawn for the president's traditional address launching the academic year. Word is spreading about the campus' impressive record of achievement in recent years, she noted.

Koester said a total of 140 CSUN faculty are working on an historic teacher education reform initiative called Teachers for a New Era, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The university recently has earned international choral and engineering honors, hosted a national track and field championship event, been awarded millions of dollars for its small business development leadership, and forged numerous community partnerships.

In five short years, Northridge fundraising levels have climbed to $28.5 million annually--a 400 percent increase.

Even better days are ahead, Koester predicted, if the university community does the "arduous work" of planning for the future and adapts to powerful national forces affecting higher education.

The "compelling realities" in Cal State Northridge's immediate future, said the president, include about a $15 million deficit in the university's base budget--including unfunded mandatory cost increases--as well as enrollment issues and public expectations for a more aggressive form of accountability.

Koester noted that the CSU system is experiencing its fourth year of budget reductions, but this is the first year in which budget reductions will be required of colleges and all administrative divisions at Cal State Northridge.

To give the university time to make the structural changes necessary in order to adjust the base budget for the future, about $6 million in funds available on a one-time-only basis will be applied to help meet this year's shortfall.

Even more detrimental than direct budget reductions is the erosion in the university's financial base, continued Koester.

To help counter that erosion, Provost Harold Hellenbrand will develop models of transformational change focusing on a learning centered philosophy, for implementation in the 200506 academic year. A symposium--"The Learning Centered University: Where Are We Going, Where Have We Been"--has been planned for Friday, Oct. 8.

Hellenbrand and Vice President for Student Affairs Terry Piper will lead efforts to improve the student graduation rate by implementing campus Graduation Rate Task Force recommendations. Working with deans, chairs and departments, Hellenbrand also will ensure that four-year degree models are being used as the basis for key departmental decisions.

Led by professor William Jennings, chair of the Finance, Real Estate and Insurance Department, a university/community committee will continue work begun on Envision 2035, the Cal State Northridge initiative to shape the design of the campus during the coming three decades.

A capital campaign for a state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center at Northridge, described by Koester as "our number one facilities priority," will be funded with private dollars and state capital outlay funds. The president said the facility will "cement our role as the cultural heart of the region."

@csun | August 23, 2004 issue
Public Relations | University Advancement
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