From the President's Desk

November 8, 1996

The Implications of Proposition 209

As you know, the voters of California approved Proposition 209 in Tuesday's election. We are receiving many questions about the effects of the poposition on the California State University and the campus. Since there are reports that the proposition will be subject to legal challenges, much like Proposition 187, it is not yet clear what will be required of us in implementing the proposition. The CSU General Counsel will provide legal guidance as soon as possible and we will share that with you when we receive it.

The school-aged population and community college enrollments of California have become more diverse with regard to racial, ethnic and national characteristics. Indeed, many of the public schools within the Greater Los Angeles Basin are already majority minority schools. Earlier this year, therefore, at the request of the Chancellor, we reviewed all of our policies and programs related to student recruitment and admissions to recognize this new reality.

Program descriptions that are inclusive of the population of California, including especially disadvantaged and low-income individuals, were developed at the university and college level for all equity and diversity programs that are not subject to federal government policy definitions and/or funding. These programs appear to be exempt within the language of Proposition 209. Until the implementation requirements of Proposition 209 are clear, we should assume, therefore, that no changes are required in our current recruitment and admissions processes.

The University continues to seek a student body and a workforce which is reflective of the rich diversity of our region. And Cal State Northridge will fulfill that commitment while complying fully with applicable state and federal law.

Many of the strategic efforts initiated during the past several years support these goals. Our outreach and recruitment efforts are successful and sophisticated; they will be strengthened, as resources permit, to reach all students in a wide range of secondary school settings, including our traditional feeder schools. Similarly, our retention efforts will be designed to provide support and encouragement for all of our students to succeed in the University. We are also fortunate to have developed vital alliances and partnerships with K-12 schools in our region and with our feeder community colleges. In collaboration with our educational partners we hope to be able to improve the achievement and success of larger numbers of students who seek to continue their education.

On a more philosophical note, let us remind ourselves that government policies did not create affirmative action. Those policies were but a tool with which the society, and this university, advanced abiding values - to increase educational opportunity; to include persons whose circumstances or background might otherwise have limited their access to higher education; to create an educational environment on the campus that teaches tolerance and respect for differences; and to prepare students to live cooperatively in a diverse national and global world.

Our planning and dialogue in the near future should address how we will establish new pathways to maintaining educational opportunity for the richly diverse population we serve. We have the talent, creativity and resolve, I believe, to maintain these values for future generations.

Closure of Admissions

I recently reported to you on my decision to close spring admissions in order to align our burgeoning enrollments with available financial resources. In making that decision, while we accommodated the University's commitment to enroll larger numbers of teachers to serve in our public schools, we neglected to take into account the special recruitment circumstances associated with the Project for Adult College Education (PACE) program and Intercollegiate Athletics.

In these programs, University officials establish personal recruitment relationships with potential students. In the case of the PACE program, we had made commitments to enable a full cohort of students to begin their program in the Spring. Similarly, with Intercollegiate Athletics, we had authorized coaches to invite potential student athletes to the campus and to discuss athletic participation and scholarship support in the usual recruitment pattern. Because offers and acceptances were made in good faith, I believe it would be unethical for the University to fail to honor them.

You should also be aware that all of the students involved in these two programs are fully qualified for collegiate study. Student athletes will have met the rigorous academic requirements of Division 1-AA; PACE students who are adult learners have also demonstrated their ability to perform collegiate work successfully. I regret this oversight and the confusion it may have caused for our faculty, staff and potential students.

Administrative Transfer of National Center on Deafness

In May 1996, the ad hoc committee charged with reviewing funding issues related to the National Center on Deafness (NCOD) completed its report. Consistent with its major recommendation, we allocated $600,000 to NCOD to maintain its excellence as a resource and service agency for deaf and hard of hearing students. Further evidence of the high regard in which the NCOD is held was its recent receipt of a $5 million award to serve as the western regional training center for organizations seeking to serve deaf individuals more effectively.

The report also recommended that the NCOD be assigned to the Division of Student Affairs as an autonomous unit. The most convincing rationale for this change is the congruity of a strong student development philosophy within the Center and the Division. A parallel program already exists in the Division in the Center on Disabilities, which has achieved significant success and visibility for its outstanding service and research programming.

I have therefore accepted the recommendation to transfer the National Center on Deafness to Student Affairs. Provost Louanne Kennedy, Vice President Ron Kopita and Director Herb Larson have supported this decision and are implementing a smooth transition, which became effective on November 1, 1996. I'm certain that NCOD will continue to thrive under this new organizational arrangement.

Blenda J. Wilson
President


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