From the President's Desk

December 3, 1996

Educational Mission to China

While it is very difficult to summarize my recent trip to China in a few words, I want you to know that it was a very successful and enjoyable visit. The delegation, which also included Dr. Justine Su and Dr. Elliot Mininberg from the School of Education, and my husband, Dr. Louis Fair, was invited to renew and expand the exchange relationships between Cal State Northridge and Chinese universities. As you know, CSUN was one of the first American universities to develop exchange programs with China, starting in 1981. Many of the most robust programs had been placed on hold since 1989. The State Education Commission of China sponsored our trip and served as our hosts throughout.

On a personal level the trip was an astounding contrast to the visit I had made to China in 1981. Multi-story buildings are being built everywhere. By contrast with 15 years ago, hotel and other accommodations for visitors are quite comfortable and western in their design and amenities. Bicycles continue to be the major source of transportation for working people, but they now have to wage battle on the roads and highways with cars and buses, which were not widespread in 1981. The drab blue and gray colored clothing which predominated during the Cultural Revolution has given way to the bright reds and yellows which characterized Chinese culture for so many centuries. Most impressive of all, education is the number one priority in the country's social and political agenda, and the country's remarkable progress in improving education is inspirational.

Our delegation visited Beijing, Xi'an, Nanjing, Guangzhou, and Shengzhen. We met members of China's State Education Commission, business leaders in Beijing and Shengzhen, and educators from universities and colleges in every city. At Beijing University, I gave one of three addresses at a forum on higher education reform in China and the United States. We were greeted warmly and enthusiastically by our higher education colleagues, many of whom had visited CSUN in years past.

The visit provided an opportunity for discussion and exploration of ways we might assist Chinese educators address contemporary problems through enhanced partnerships and specialized exchange relationships. I signed several cooperative agreements to cooperate with Nanjing Teachers University, Nanjing Teachers College, and Guangzhou Teachers University through our China Institute and the Center for Educational Reform. Their interests include the exchange of scholars and students and seminars, conferences and/or workshops specifically focused on teacher preparation, school-administrator training, vocational training, and scholarly enrichment.

I will ask Dr. Justine Su to convene a meeting of University faculty and staff who have specific interests in collaborating with Chinese educators to discuss the potential of strengthening our long association into the future.

The Implications of Proposition 209 on Affirmative Action Programs for University Employees

In an earlier From the President's Desk, we reviewed the implications of Proposition 209 on our recruitment and retention efforts. Since then, we have received many questions about the effects of the new law regarding the University's affirmative action programs for employees.

As you know, the voters of California approved Proposition 209 on November 5, 1996. As far as our legal counsel understands, Proposition 209 will not affect our employment programs in any way. The University will continue to aggressively recruit qualified women, minorities and persons with disabilities in order to establish a work force which is reflective of the rich diversity of our campus enrollment and our region.

The requirements for open searches, for announcing and advertising positions, and for including a statement that the University is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer will remain unchanged. Colleges, departments and offices are encouraged to invite applications from qualified individuals of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and to communicate the University's commitment to educational equity and diversity.

University Gift Policy

Over the past several years, the university has increased its activities to develop and strengthen relationships in local, national and international communities and to enhance its advancement efforts. These activities have raised questions and concerns about gifts received by faculty and staff in the course of their duties as representatives of the University. Given these activities, we would remind the campus community of our policy related to gifts:

It is the policy of California State University, Northridge that all gifts received by the university or any of its colleges, departments, or units, be deposited through the University Development Office with the California State University, Northridge Foundation.

Gifts to the university may be in the form of cash or non-cash items. Gifts of art must be approved for acceptance by the university's art collection commission. Gifts which are accepted with the expectation that they will be sold require special consideration for IRS purposes. Generally, all gifts of tangible personal property are transferred to the university through a deed of gift letter. Because of the tax implications related to gifts, we have established procedures through the University Foundation to assist members of the academic community and donors in properly receiving and accounting for gifts to the university.

If you have any questions regarding this policy or wish to report a gift you have received, please contact your College development director or Mr. Michael Hammerschmidt, Director of University Development. Your cooperation and assistance is appreciated.

North Campus Project Update

I hope you have had a chance to see The University MarketCenter, the most recent publication describing our progress in developing a high-end retail center on the North Campus through a public/private partnership. It gives an overview of the proposed retail center, which we believe will create a significant revenue stream to enhance our academic programs, provide job opportunities for our students, and benefit the surrounding community.

Over the past several weeks, the university has met with several homeowners' groups and local business associations regarding The MarketCenter. Presentations were also made to the Associated Students and the Alumni Association. The project, which will be the subject of an in-depth environmental impact report (EIR), will include approximately 220,000 square feet of retail uses on Devonshire Street between Zelzah and Lindley Avenues. The EIR will evaluate potential impacts associated with land use, traffic and parking, noise, aesthetics, air quality, geology, public service, and facilities, and will be an important part of helping us to know how to proceed with the project. We expect the Draft EIR to be ready for the required 45-day public review in late December or early January.

CSUN is pursuing this project to support the University's educational mission. We will continue to meet with both on and off campus groups to gain support for this critical component of our long-term educational and financial planning. Please share your comments and concerns with us.

Mr. Frank Wein, the university's project coordinator, will be scheduling a community forum in mid-December to address specific questions about the proposed development. Please look for the date of the forum. In the meantime he can be reached at x2561.

Champions!

Congratulations to our Women's Volleyball team in their stellar win over Sacramento, taking the Big Sky Conference championship and advancing to the NCAA tournament. CSUN should be especially proud of the courage and spirit our women's team exhibited coming back from a 2-0 deficit to claim the championship. Our best wishes go with them as they advance in the NCAA tournament on December 4th. We are so very proud of their achievement!

Blenda J. Wilson
President


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