August 25, 1995

Welcome Back to Campus!

I hope everyone had an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate this summer. We are looking forward to a year of continuing recovery, strengthened community and rewarding work. At the welcome back picnic for students on September 5th and the welcome back receptions for faculty and staff on August 30th and September 6th respectively, we'll be able to extend personal greetings to all members of our university community.

A special welcome to a most impressive group of new faculty - please join us at the welcome back festivities.

ENROLLMENT PROJECTIONS

As a result of the dedicated efforts of many people in the University we have realized a very encouraging increase in our fall enrollments. Compared to enrollment figures a year ago we have increased overall enrollments to date by over 550 students. All categories of students, continuing, first-time freshman and transfer students, have increased from last year's figures. As a matter of fact, first-time freshman enrollment is higher than it's been in the past five years! We're hopeful that this gain will be sustained through the end of registration.

Much of the credit for this success is attributable to the leadership of the Enrollment Management Committee, particularly the co-chairs, Dr. Margaret Fieweger, Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies, and Ms. Ludim Seja de Manzano, Director of Student Outreach and Recruitment Services, and to the many hours of excellent outreach work by staff this past spring to encourage attendance at Cal State Northridge. Their outreach efforts were able to highlight the remarkable devotion and continuing excellence of our faculty and staff during this past year. We are very proud of their success and grateful for the vote of confidence these enrollment figures represent.

STRATEGIC PLANNING

Major activity is planned in the coming year for the Strategic Planning process which was begun last year. Responding to concerns expressed by the Strategic Planning Committee, we intend to modify the roles of the consultants to our process and achieve much more active participation by campus faculty, students and staff. The Strategic Planning Committee met over the summer to design a plan of action and with the assistance of faculty in the Business School, most particularly Dr. Alan Glassman, Professor of Management, and Dr. Gerard Rossy, Professor and Chair of Management, we feel confident that we can engage in vigorous discussions about our mission, vision, values and strategic thrusts. It is important that all campus voices be heard.

In order to encourage the full involvement and participation of the campus community in this important process, Dr. Pat Nichelson, Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and I will be visiting School Deans, faculty and chairs, administrative departments, and student government leaders during the fall semester to explain our plans and enlist participation in this important effort. We will, of course, keep you regularly updated through the strategic planning newsletter.

NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENTS

Responding to the needs of the growing segment of non-traditional students whose work schedules require that they attend classes in the evenings, many University departments and programs have implemented extended hours during the school year. Under the leadership of Provost Louanne Kennedy, academic departments within the Schools increasingly remain open during evening hours on Tuesday and Wednesday between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm with staff who have signature authority available to meet student needs.

Other offices with extended hours include:

We hope these extended hours will make it easier for evening and non-traditional students to receive the services they need.

EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY

Reorganization of the Disaster Recovery Office

This summer, we have been extremely active in laying the groundwork for what will be the next phase of our efforts to bring the campus back to its pre-earthquake utility - and better. Several significant activities have taken place to move us forward in a positive way.

Based upon consultation among faculty and staff and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate last spring, priorities were established for facilities repair work for the summer and fall of 1995. Building priorities included Engineering/Sierra Tower/Richfield Hall, Science 3 and 4, the Faculty Office Building, Fine Arts and Science 1. Meetings with FEMA and OES officials during July helped to identify additional steps the University must take to move these projects forward and produce funds to support the repair work.

The media has reported extensively on the concerns of OES, LAUSD, the City of Los Angeles, and Cal State Northridge regarding the delays in FEMA processing of earthquake claims. We are working diligently to continue the pace and success in securing FEMA funding that has distinguished the campus' recovery effort. In August, I convened a special advisory panel to review the operations of the Earthquake Recovery Office and make recommendations regarding the most effective structure to maximize our receipt of federal and state dollars over the next few years. The panel included Dr. Handel Evans, Vice Chancellor for External Relations and National Affairs, Dr. Art Elbert, our new Vice President for Administration and Finance, Mr. William Richardson, and Mr. Douglas Gerard.

Based upon their recommendations and consultation with Chancellor Munitz, I am strengthening our Disaster Recovery Office, under the supervision of the Vice President for Administration and Finance. I am delighted that Dr. Evans has agreed to assume a senior management role with us during the coming year. His extensive FEMA background and federal relations experience will assist us immeasurably in the coordination of campus interests with state and federal government officials and in the direct supervision of all legal, contracting, procurement, construction management, and planning functions currently in progress in the Earthquake Recovery Office. This strengthened Disaster Recovery Office is a strategic response to the increased demands for documentation and negotiation that are now required in the FEMA approval process.

Conflict of Interest Issue

In controversial media reports this summer, a potential conflict of interest involving Bill and Jane Chatham and a major contract firm was alleged. Earlier this week the Fair Political Practices Commission responded to my request that they review the propriety of the Chatham's actions. I am very happy to report that the Commission "determined to close this matter without formal enforcement action.... This conclusion is based on the fact that the employees who volunteered their personal services do not have an ownership interest in Law/Crandall, Inc., nor were they compensated by Law/Crandall for their services." The Commission's decision reaffirms the conclusions of my investigation which found no evidence of improper advantage or favor in official decisions regarding the contractor.

I reiterate, however, that as stewards of a public trust, University officials must hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical judgment and behavior, avoiding improper conduct and any action which might give the appearance of impropriety in the conduct of the University's business.

As we return to normal in our programs and activities on campus, it is easy to forget the enormous devastation the Northridge earthquake visited upon us such a short time ago. As tedious as it may often seem, our dedication to the recovery effort in the coming year will be critical to our long term strength and successful strategic planning initiatives. Please remain patient and flexible.

INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS

In our continuing efforts to provide an enhanced intercollegiate athletic program within limited financial resources, the Division of Student Affairs initiated an administrative reorganization this summer that was both necessary and painful. It was necessary to achieve new management direction and fiscal accountability. It was very painful, however, in that it resulted in Bob Hiegert being reassigned from the position of Athletic Director to his tenured faculty position in the Department of Kinesiology.

Bob and Jackie Hiegert have been devoted Matadors for more than 30 years and will be honored for their achievements and contributions to the campus in an appropriate manner and time. Bob will continue to play an important role in the development of students as a member of the Kinesiology faculty. This is a time when expressions of friendship and colleagueship would be especially meaningful to them.

We are fortunate that Mr. Paul Bubb was willing to step in as Interim Athletic Director immediately. Paul recently provided very successful leadership in the campus' application for membership in the Big Sky Conference. Working closely with Vice President Ronald Kopita, he and the athletics staff have identified several major initiatives to develop a balanced budget for 1995-96, including initiating a strong external fund raising effort. A nationwide search to fill the Athletic Director's position on a permanent basis is planned for spring 1996.

Exciting activities anticipated this year include the inaugural season for women's soccer and, hopefully, membership in the Big Sky Conference. Affiliation with the Big Sky, rated as the nation's top Division I-AA football conference, will enable us to generate additional revenues in support of all our athletic programs. A decision on our request for membership should be forthcoming within the next 90 days. I am confident that the coming year will bring success on the field, a new conference affiliation, and a reorganized administration and coaching staff ready to meet the challenges ahead. Please join them and me in supporting our athletes and our athletic events.

PROPOSITION 187

As we begin the fall term, Vice President Kopita is coordinating an effort to ensure that all of our students are apprised of the most current information regarding Proposition 187. Information will be posted throughout the campus.

Current policy is that no student will be denied enrollment because of Proposition 187. Universities may ask for status verification solely for the purposes of determining state residency for tuition purposes. This information will not be released to INS or any other public entity.

I would ask each of you to continue to reassure our students about this measure and to reaffirm our commitment to access and educational opportunity for all.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

We have all watched, with considerable interest, the national debate on affirmative action, and close to home, the recent decision of the University of California to abolish affirmative action in admissions and hiring. While neither Supreme Court decisions or the Governor's Executive Order of June 1, 1995 have changed the laws or regulations which govern the California State University, this debate has important implications for us and all of higher education.

We encourage your active participation in the formal and informal discussions on affirmative action that will be held on the campus this fall. I am convinced that reasoned debate will be essential to creating a social framework that can reaffirm our democratic principles and reconcile the tensions within existing policy.

In the interim, however, I cannot overemphasize our unequivocal commitment to the CSU policy of increasing diversity through equal opportunity. Our community is enriched by the diversity of our faculty, students and staff, and the University will continue to ensure equal opportunity in employment, student admissions, financial aid practices, and educational assistance programs for students from economically and disadvantaged backgrounds.

EF INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE SCHOOL

Many faculty and staff have asked about the proposed lease of campus space to a private, for-profit corporation, EF International Language School, which offers language programs for international students. I would like to clarify that the University is pursuing this initiative as a source of revenue to reduce the long-standing Housing deficit created by the over-supply of apartment space and declining enrollments in recent years.

Under the leadership of Vice President Kopita and Housing Director Roger Frichette, we have made significant progress in reducing the housing deficit from more than $5,000,000 per year to less than $2,000,000, but the goal must be to reduce the deficit to zero, without having to use state general funds which would reduce funding for other University programs. Unfortunately, given the very best student occupancy scenario (which we are on our way to achieving this year), and rental fees from faculty/staff and family housing, faculty/staff offices, KCSN, Public Safety, and the Center on Disabilities, additional revenue generating programs are still required if we are to achieve that goal.

Some perceive that EF programs will be competitive with our own Continuing Education ESL programs and result in reduced revenue from our programs. I do not believe that is the case. Our review of the proposed contract reveals that the target markets recruited by EF West Coast programs are in Europe, while most of the students enrolled in the Cal State Northridge ESL program are from Asia. Students attending the EF program will enroll in a nine month course of language study, whereas our own ESL students are offered a series of six week sessions. Given these differences and a willing spirit, it is reasonable to expect that the two programs might complement each other and perhaps result in additional enrollments at CSUN for that very large audience of international students who may wish to study in this country.

This initiative is supported by the Chancellor's Office which has the ultimate authority for approving proposed contracts for the Dormitory Revenue Fund. We will provide additional information as the contract negotiations proceed.

COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY

In many of my conversations with faculty and staff over the past few months, I have been repeatedly reminded of the importance of communication on the campus. While we have made tremendous progress in our publications and printed materials during the past year and a half, many of us miss the spirit of collaboration and community which immediately followed the earthquake.

As a way of promoting better communication, I hope to attend as many campus events as possible this fall and I encourage you to do the same. I will continue to use From the President's Desk as a means of communicating about significant university issues, but I don't expect them to be as long as this one.

I will also continue to schedule campus forums each semester so that everyone has the opportunity to share his or her views and concerns with me directly. The fall 1995 community forum will be held on November 1, 1995; details will be provided later. I encourage your suggestions for other ways we might come together as a university community and wish you all a productive and rewarding school year.

Blenda J. Wilson President