January 30, 1996

Spring Semester Welcome

I'm delighted to welcome all faculty, staff and students to the 1996 Spring Semester. I hope all of you found the break between semesters to be wonderful opportunity to spend time with friends and loved ones. I also hope you were able to find time to renew yourselves to sustain the dedication and commitment to meet our goals of recovery, enhanced service and quality education.

The new year has begun on several very positive notes for Cal State Northridge. Enrollment for this semester has been very strong, continuing the trend of positive growth that we began to see last fall. This increase is in large part due to the fine efforts of the Office of Outreach and Recruitment, and I would like to express my appreciation for their fine work.

Similarly, the Financial Aid Office has instituted a new policy of processing checks for students within 48 hours of the approval of the application. Our focus on student service is also reflected in the early commitment of budget resources for direct instruction so that the Schools can plan in advance for Fall semester courses. This decision, in turn, will give students the opportunity to plan their schedules early.

Earthquake Recovery Progress Report

As you have seen in news reports, I gave a presentation about our earthquake recovery to the Board of Trustees of the California State University, on Wednesday, January 24th. The report was very well received. In addition to detailing revenues and expenditures of FEMA and State funds we have already received, I reiterated our request to FEMA to provide a lump sum completion grant of approximately $139 million. This amount will provide the resources for us to complete the remainder of our earthquake recovery. A copy of the presentation is available in all the offices of the Vice Presidents and available to interested members of the campus community.

In a related matter, the report to the Board confirmed that the major administrative functions associated with earthquake recovery will be assumed by the campus, under the leadership of Vice President for Administration and Finance Art Elbert. For some time now, the University has been holding $100,000 for a new position and related support for internal auditing purposes. We were recently advised that funding for audit activities on the campuses will be provided on a systemwide basis. Therefore I have authorized Vice President Elbert to use the previously budgeted position to enhance our financial processing systems, including all FEMA activities, accounting practices, and budget making procedures. A search for a Manager of Accounting and Internal Review is currently underway.

The position will direct all University accounting activities including general accounting, accounts receivable, accounts payable, Associated Students Inc., investment accounting, FEMA accounting, and internal review activities not directly related to this position's functional responsibility.

New Remedial Education Policy

During its January meeting, the CSU Board of Trustees also approved a remedial education policy that will help prepare incoming freshmen for University-level coursework. Under this new policy, remedial classes will be phased out over an 11-year period until the year 2007 when it is projected that only 10 percent of entering freshmen will require remedial education.

As Chancellor Barry Munitz notes, "The goal is not to eliminate remedial education; the goal is to eliminate the need for remedial education for the next generation."

I would like to take this opportunity to express my pride in the Board's leadership in addressing this sensitive issue. As you know, this matter has created great debate in California and around the nation. The CSU Board set an admirable example of public policy making by studying the issue thoroughly, considering the best interests of our students and future students, conducting public hearings throughout the State, and developing a sensitive, responsible and proactive plan to ensure that students will receive the preparation they need to successfully pursue their academic and professional goals in our colleges and universities. Cal State Northridge shall contribute our talents and energy to implementing the policy in collaborating with our K-12 partners in the greater Los Angeles area.

A copy of the Board's policy is available in the Office of the Provost.

Athletics Program

After careful consideration and review of the Big Sky Conference Task Force Report, along with recommendations forwarded by the Vice President and Director of Athletics, I have approved, in principle, a proposal for Cal State Northridge to offer a broad-based athletic program, maintaining our current 19 sports adding two new sports, women's golf and men's tennis, over the next two years to comply with requirements of the Big Sky Conference.

This proposal enables the department to continue to be broad-based, achieve compliance with the CSU-CAL NOW Gender Equity program, and focus on key sports within the Big Sky Conference. Those sports include men's and women's basketball, football, and women's volleyball. This will also be done while maintaining our position as a well-respected NCAA Division I program in baseball, softball and men's volleyball, all sports which make our membership in the Big Sky Conference unique.

While we have all embraced the philosophy that the Task Force set forward -- completing the move to the Big Sky while maintaining all current sports -- this presents a financial challenge to Athletics and the University. I believe that this challenge can be comfortably met by supporting the athletic program at previously committed funding levels and reducing the budgets for some sports.

I want to thank the University Budget Advisory Board and the University Corporation for their comments regarding the maturing of the university campus and the role our membership in the Big Sky Conference represents. Our expectation is that we restore the athletics department's State General Fund allocation top the level it received in 1993-94, as well as the Corporation's financial support. On an annual basis, the Intercollegiate Athletics Department will be required to prepare a budget request for review by Vice President Kopita and myself to establish the precise level of supplementary funding that will be required.

Blenda J. Wilson
President