From the President's Desk

April 24, 1997

NORTH CAMPUS TASK FORCE

As you know, the North Campus Development Corporation has proposed to lease 20 acres of property on our North Campus for the development of a retail MarketCenter.

During recent months, many community organizations have expressed a wide range of views and concerns about the development. In an effort to respond to those concerns and create a single forum for all of the major organizations to discuss our proposal, I am pleased to announce the appointment the North Campus Task Force (NCTF), which will be charged with examining issues and proposals related to the development of the North Campus. Appointments to the NCTF include representatives from local homeowners associations, chambers of commerce, and other business groups in the community, as well as faculty, staff, students, alumni, and members of our community advisory board. The NCTF underscores our commitment to ensure that the development meets the needs of the campus and is sensitive to the concerns of our neighbors.

Our goal is for the university, with the assistance of the NCTF, to achieve diversified revenue sources through various development opportunities, to consider land uses that are compatible with our neighborhood, and to provide facilities or income that supplement and enhance our existing academic programs. The Task Force has been asked to submit its findings and recommendations to me by the end of June.

The enclosed from the Los Angeles Times article (for a copy of the article call x2130) describes similar efforts by our sister campuses to find new, innovative ways to support their missions as increasing enrollments and diminishing state resources collide. I think it places our effort in the broader context of responsible financial planning. I will keep you informed about this continuing dialogue.

FISMA AUDIT

A recent story in the Los Angeles Times reported on an audit of the California State University system that included an analysis of specific accounting and finance practices at Cal State Northridge from 1991 to 1995.

The audit finding, in part, said:

During our review, we noted that outstanding payroll and salary advance receivables totaled approximately $150,000 and $275,000 respectively. The payroll officers stated that inadequate staffing, inadequate training, and earthquake-related events contributed to the backlog of these outstanding receivables.We note that the campus had developed a plan to collect the amounts owed. Additionally, the campus has severely restricted the use of the revolving funds for salary advances.

The campus concurred with the audit recommendations and proceeded to develop a plan for collecting payroll and salary advance receivables that were incurred prior to July 1995.

Following receipt of the audit report, Dr. Art Elbert, Vice President for Administration and Finance, instructed the accounting and payroll departments to discontinue payroll and salary advances and to reconstruct prior records on outstanding reimbursements.

Subsequently, Vice President Elbert appointed Dr. Robert Kiddoo, Professor of Accounting and Management Information Systems, as Interim Controller for the university. His responsibilities are to prepare campus records and documentation for our first GAAP audit and to improve our accounting systems and practices generally. The FISMA audit serves both a remedial and preventative purpose by identifying areas of needed improvement in administrative practices and/or policies. Dr. Kiddoo's appointment represented a major initiative to strengthen the senior management within the Division of Administration and Finance, and to provide the leadership necessary to address organizational issues and specific practices such as those raised in the FISMA audit.

While compliance with the audit recommendations has been ongoing, the public questions reported in the Times article undermine the university's credibility as a responsible steward of public funds. I have, therefore, requested Vice President Elbert and Dr. Kiddoo to provide me with a detailed report no later than May 9 on the issues outlined in the audit, including a review of relevant policies, an analysis of advances and collections to date, and the current balance of outstanding and/or uncollectible payroll, salary and travel advances. I will inform you about the results of this study when it is received.

It goes without saying that the university accepts a responsibility to manage public resources in strict compliance with university, system and state policies. The requested report, and any decisions which result from it, will reaffirm our commitment to strong financial accountability.

NEW STAFF ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT

I am pleased to announce that Ms. Maria Diaz will be joining my office as the new Staff Assistant to the President on Tuesday, April 29, 1997.

Ms. Diaz joins us with experience in both the private and non-profit sector. She recently served as Executive Director for the Latin Business Association in Los Angeles. She holds a master's degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a bachelor's in quantitative economics and public policy from Stanford University.

Among other duties, Ms. Diaz' responsibilities will include management of the operations in the President's Office and supervision of the clerical and administrative staff. This position was developed to accommodate the extraordinary communications and information responsibilities of the President's Office following the completion of a benchmark survey that determined the office was seriously understaffed relative to other campuses in the CSU.

We are confident that Ms. Diaz will be a strong addition to the university and the President's Office, helping us to fulfill our responsibilities more effectively and efficiently. I hope you will join me in welcoming her to our campus.

1997-98 BUDGET FORUMS

The 1997-98 Budget Forums will be held this year on Tuesday, April 29, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. in the Grand Salon of the University Student Union.

As you know the university has been engaged since last December in discussing budget initiatives that support our Strategic Planning Themes. A summary presentation of those proposals that have come forward for further consideration will be given at the budget forums. We hope that you will attend one of the two sessions offered to share your thoughts and concerns regarding the budget proposals. All members of the university community are invited to attend. I look forward to your attendance and our discussion on April 29.

Blenda J. Wilson
President


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