Focusing on Presidential Priorities: Student Graduation Rates
Welcome to the new Spring semester! During the break, I had the
opportunity to participate in my first CSUN Faculty Retreat, held
Oxnard on January 21-23. I greatly enjoyed meeting faculty and
staff in such a collegial atmosphere. Learning about the
issues that faculty face was enlightening. My congratulations to
President Diane Schwartz, her staff, and the Faculty Senate for
together such an informative and enriching program. The meeting
confirmed the extraordinary commitment of our faculty and staff to
university and students.
Of special interest to me was the presentation given by Provost
Kennedy on "Graduation Rates: Are CSUN Students Completing Their
Degrees?" As many of you know, improving student graduation rates
identified, in my first annual address to the campus in August
one of our four priorities deserving immediate attention.
Provost Kennedy will share with the campus community the details
graduation rates and the plans being developed to address the
am pleased to offer you an excerpt of her presentation, which was
developed with the assistance of Dr. Fran Horvath, director of
Institutional Research. Provost Kennedy stated:
Our data, partly collected for our self-study report for our
reaccreditation, provided confirmation of CSUN's low graduation
On average, just 41 percent of transfer students graduate in four
48 percent in five years, and only 51 percent in six years. The
are more disappointing for freshmen: an average of only 3 percent
graduate in four years; 15 percent in five years; and 28 percent
years. While some CSU campuses have comparable rates to ours, CSUN
nevertheless ranks low relative to our sister campuses. No campus
find a six-year graduation rate of 28 percent acceptable. It is a
disservice that impacts students, faculty and the community.
During the Fall, I appointed an ad hoc Data Group chaired by Dr.
Schwartz. The group included faculty and senior administrators
expertise in research design and statistical analysis, and one of
primary objectives was to compile data and identify what
information was still needed.
I also want to detail some of the work that needs to be done to
students achieve their academic goals and complete their degrees.
includes the need to provide better counseling and guidance for
and to more closely follow existing policies and procedures, such
those that govern the application of incomplete grades in courses
that limit the number of times students may take the same course
attempt to improve their grade point average. We have taken
actions to address these issues, including programs like PACE, the
proposal to move to year-round scheduling, and the recognition of
needs of our increasing number of "nontraditional" students who
unable to attend courses during traditional days and times. These
good first steps toward our goal of improving graduation rates.
To continue moving forward on this issue, I will appoint a
Rate Task Force to look at the information collected by the Data
to increase our understanding of the challenges involved, and to
creative and positive ways to improve our graduation rates and
our obligation to help students succeed. I will announce more
about these plans soon.
I am encouraged by the willingness and dedication of faculty and
to face these challenges and to craft creative solutions that will
assure student success and excellence.
Clearly, Academic Affairs is taking the lead in focusing our
on this priority. I invite all campus units to join in the effort
serve our students well and to assist them in their efforts to
I share Provost Kennedy's confidence in the university community
looking forward to working with all of you to address this
urgent issue in the coming year.
Vice Presidents for Student Affairs and University Advancement
I am pleased to announce two new appointments to the university's
executive management team: Dr. Terry Piper as Vice President for
Affairs and Ms. Judy C. Knudson as Vice President for University
Dr. Piper is currently associate vice president for student life
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and brings to this campus
extensive professional experience in the area of student affairs
services. Dr. Piper also served as assistant vice president for
life and director of residential life at UNLV. His other academic
experience includes appointments at the University of Iowa and
State University. Dr. Piper earned his bachelor of science in
education from Pennsylvania State University, a master's in
personnel work/higher education administration from the University
Iowa, and his doctorate in educational policy and leadership at
State University. Dr. Piper's knowledge of and experience in
practices of student affairs and services management will be
particularly beneficial for the university and our students.
Ms. Knudson is currently associate vice president for
advancement at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Arizona.
been involved in higher education management since 1981, with
responsibility for external relations and advancement activities
1983. This experience includes 14 years of managing development
programs. At ASU, she is part of the advancement leadership team
responsible for overseeing and implementing a comprehensive $400
capital campaign that has already surpassed its goal before the
scheduled end date. Her ASU responsibilities also include managing
staff of 100 that encompasses external relations, communications,
information services, the news bureau, a public television
public and special events, and key components of development
including the annual fund, stewardship and donor relations.
Ms. Knudson earned her bachelor of art degree in Psychology and
Sociology from North Dakota State University and a master of
degree in Communications from the University of South Dakota. With
increased expectations being placed on CSU campuses to raise
funds, and to strengthen relations and communications with local
businesses and civic and community leaders, we are fortunate to
someone with Ms. Knudson's background and experience.
As vice presidents, Dr. Piper and Ms. Knudson will serve on the
President's Cabinet and provide important guidance and leadership
our campus and their respective divisions. Dr. Piper is scheduled
assume his appointment on March 12, and Ms. Knudson will start on
I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the two search
committees for their work. The search for the Vice President for
Affairs was chaired by Vice Provost Philip Handler, and the
included A.S. President Robert Hanff, Dr. Sandra Harris, Dr.
Jennings, Ms. Ellen Mayer, and Ms. Ludim Seja de Manzano. The
the Vice President for University Advancement was chaired by Dr.
Rawitch, and its members included Ms. Susan Andraus, Mr. Gary
Ms. Sucari Epps, Mr. Anthony Ferguson, Dr. William Jennings, Dr.
Frederick Kuretski, Faculty President Diane Schwartz, Dean William
Toutant, and Ms. Robin Ferguson who provided staff support.
Special recognition also goes to Dr. Fred Strache, interim vice
president for student affairs, and Mr. Dick Tyler, interim vice
president for university advancement, for their work in ensuring
leadership and continued good service in their divisions during
time of transition. I have been grateful for their knowledge and
experience and look forward to their continued contributions to
California State Employees Campaign
The California State Employees Campaign has been a successful
for CSUN through the years. This is in large part due to the
and commitment to service that exists among the faculty and staff
as well as the strong leadership the campaign has enjoyed.
I am proud to report the campaign we just concluded was the third
consecutive year the program has experienced double-digit
growth in the number of donors and the level of donations.
a net basis for the campus increased by nearly $17,000, while the
of donors grew by 109.
I would like to thank each of the more than 500 donors and the
volunteers who helped in this year's campaign, raising more than
$70,000. Its success demonstrates again the strong connection
CSUN and our greater community. We can all be proud that CSUN is
the community's university.
I also would like to express appreciation to campaign co-chairs
Susan Curzon, Dean William Hosek, Faculty President Schwartz, and
team of some 50 volunteers who came from all divisions and ranks
university. This year's success built on the efforts of last
chaired by Provost Louanne Kennedy and Chief Information Officer
New Executive Assistant to the Provost
I am pleased to announce a new appointment in the Office of the
and Vice President for Academic Affairs: Ms. Nearlene "Cherie"
has just joined the university as the new executive assistant to
Until her appointment at CSUN, Ms. Francis served as chief
administrative officer since 1995 at UCLA's Center X in the
School of Education and Information Studies. Prior to that, she
assistant to UCLA's director of the Center for African American
Currently completing her Ed.D. in educational leadership at UCLA,
Francis brings to the university extensive background and
about institutions of higher education.
Please join me in welcoming and congratulating Ms. Francis on her
- Assistant Professor Carol Koprowski (Family Environmental
and Dr. Sarah Hall (Special Education) have received funding from
University of California Breast Cancer Research Program for
Activity and Diet in Adolescents with Disabilities."
The award will enable Professor Koprowski, Dr. Hall, and their
researchers from the fields of epidemiology and social/behavioral
sciences to use focus groups and interviews to develop assessment
that will measure physical activity and diet in adolescent females
disabilities. The development of these tools will provide
groundwork for investigating the influence of lifestyle factors
differences among women with disabilities in the etiology of
My congratulations to Professor Koprowski and Dr. Hall for their
and for conducting this important research.
- Please join me in congratulating our KCSN News Department for
the Golden Mike Award from the Radio Television News Association
Southern California for "Best Newscast Over 15 Minutes (Division
The award, for the September 12, 2000 broadcast of "The Evening
was presented to the following Northridge students and staff:
students Lisa Medel, Andrea Chavez (general assignment reporters);
Asally Adib (business segment); Kristen Harriman (producer);
Padula, Jacqueline Etcheverry (reporters); Silvia Urbina (writer);
Michelle Enriquez (sports writer); and staff members Brian Wamsley
(anchor/writer); and KCSN News Director Keith S. Goldstein
The inauguration of a university president is a ceremony steeped
tradition and custom, but more importantly, it is an opportunity
acknowledge the contributions of an institution of higher
society and its surrounding community.
With this in mind, the campus community should be aware that the
for the president's inauguration has been scheduled for Thursday,
19 at noon on the Oviatt Library steps. The ceremony will be
1:30 p.m. by a reception in the Sierra Quad. Both events are open
campus community and general public. Since California State
presidents are appointed by the CSU Chancellor and the Board of
Trustees, we anticipate the participation of Chancellor Charles B.
Trustees Chair Laurence Gould, and other distinguished guests.
While details are still being developed by the inaugural
committee, related events also are being planned for the days
surrounding the inauguration. These special activities include
events, academic panels, and lectures underscoring CSUN's
academic excellence. Some highlights include a special inaugural
concert, a children's concert, a special exhibition at the Oviatt
Library, and a student multicultural "carnaval."
One of the culminating events of the inaugural is the
Alumni Dinner scheduled for the evening of the inauguration. The
of Directors of the CSUN Alumni Association, under the leadership
Association President David Novak, has graciously made this year's
annual alumni dinner part of the inauguration. The dinner will be
at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City. The opportunity
spend inauguration day with many of the university's strongest
and supporters will make this year's dinner particularly special
memorable. The inaugural organizing committee, chaired by Ms.
Tyler in the College of Extended Learning, will announce
details as they become available.
It is important to me that the inauguration be seen as a
the entire university community. As we mark this occasion in our
history, we have many reasons to celebrate a wealth of
and our hope for an outstanding future.