Nondiscrimination, Affirmative Action and Educational Equity

Federal and state policies relationed to nondiscrimination, affirmative action and educational equity are being reviewed in the courts, in the public press and by the CSU Board of Trustees.

I am pleased to note that the Cal State Northridge Faculty Senate recently endorsed a recommendation from the CSU Academic Senate which reaffirmed the commitment of the CSU faculty to continue efforts to achieve greater diversity within our student body and within our work force. The Faculty Senate, in addition, passed a resolution encouraging faculty participation in the public dialogue about this issue. In order to respond to public requests for speakers, I would appreciate it if any faculty members who are willing to make public presentations would send their names to Bruce Erickson, Director of Public Relations at ext. 2130, for inclusion in a potential speakers list.

Because the University has an obligation to prepare its students for constructive roles in a global society, our commitment to diversity is not a specific legal construct but a value directly relevant to the quality of the educational experience on the campus. Cal State Northridge should prepare our graduates to live and work in a society which includes persons from different cultural, racial and national backgrounds.

The University will, of course, abide by state and federal laws. We also believe that University personnel can contribute to reasoned debate about the values that should inform public policy. It is in this spirit that the actions of the Statewide Academic Senate and our own Faculty Senate are both proper and timely.

Policy Governing the Granting of Permanent Status to Temporary Employees

I have recently approved a revised policy to provide equitable consideration for the review and retention of employees assigned to temporary employment status. The policy is designed to provide an annual, case by case, review of all employees who are performing satisfactorily and who meet the timebase and service requirements necessary to be eligible to convert to permanent status pursuant to the appropriate Collective Bargaining Agreement. In addition, requests for permanent status may be initiated at any time by the employee or the appropriate supervisor.

The policy objective of this revision is to assure that the contributions of our employees are properly recognized and that management considerations are reviewed on an equitable basis across the University.

I want to thank the Committee on the Status of Women and the Office of Human Resources for their leadership in the deliberations about this policy revision. Copies of the policy are available in the Office of Human Resources.

Conflict of Interest Policy

A recent inquiry from a newspaper reporter has brought to my attention the need to elaborate on how University employees can best meet the letter and intent of the state's Conflict of Interest policies. The reporter has examined bills submitted by an employee of one of our contractors which would indicate that several University faculty or staff may have received "gifts" of meals from the employee.

Based on our review of the Conflict of Interest requirements, I want to take this opportunity to advise all University personnel that meals, flowers or fruit baskets sent to the office, holiday gifts or any item of material worth can fall within the definition of inappropriate gifts from contractors with whom we do business. Because gift-giving is generally considered a normal cost of business within the private sector, it is essential that public employees exercise the judgment required under the Conflict of Interest policies and draw a distinction between relationships with the employees of contracting agencies and the personal expressions of appreciation and collegiality we share with one another. Copies of the policy are available from the Office of Human Resources and should be reviewed carefully. Steve Montgomery, Director of Human Resources, or the CSU General Counsel's Office is available to provide consultation about any aspect of the policy.

I have begun an investigation of the specific situations brought to my attention. It appears that University employees may have shared working lunches or dinners with contract employees on a reciprocal basis as is frequently the pattern of collegial meals. Some of the reported billings erroneously identify University personnel as beneficiaries. In one case, employees acknowledge receiving assistance from contracted employees which was offered as a personal act of kindness in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Fortunately, the University's contracting, accounting and pre-audit controls are such that no state, federal or University funds were authorized for any contract expenses that did not meet the most rigorous standards of reimbursable expenditures. Contract terms were reviewed and established in collaboration with the CSU FEMA team and in accordance with established practices. I have found no evidence that University employees have been improperly influenced in the conduct of their professional duties with regard to contracts or contracted personnel.

Nevertheless, the purpose of this notification is to underscore for all of us that, as public employees, we carry an extraordinary obligation to serve the public's interest and to avoid, as much as we can, even the slightest suggestion of impropriety. By exercising careful judgment, I trust that all of our working relationships will continue to reflect the spirit of collegiality and human kindness that we value as a University community.

Procurement Card Program

As part of the Redesign Program within the Division of Administrative Services, a pilot Procurement Credit Card program has been launched to improve the efficiency of processing low dollar purchases to the department level. The initial pilot will consist of five departments: Theatre/Music, Library Administration, Physical Plant Management, the Foundation, and CHHS.

The Procurement Card will enable an authorized cardholder to place an order directly with University suppliers, simplifying the procurement/disbursement process and reducing the central administrative workload.

The pilot will be evaluated using performance and satisfaction surveys to determine its feasibility as an administrative routine for the campus.

I want to thank Karen Hoefel, Interim Vice President for Administrative Services, and the cross functional implementation team for this effort to improve administrative processes and services in the University.

Environmental Concerns within the Domes

Two repeated complaints about the environmental conditions in the Domes have been investigated. First, it was reported that all of the air-conditioning within the Domes is 100% "recirculated." I am informed that all of the air, either cool air on hot days or heated air during the colder days, is "new", outside air.

The second complaint - heard very frequently - is that the noise levels from the air handling units exceed the allowable levels for office space. The Environmental Health and Safety officers have checked the noise levels with a noise meter and found them to be considerably within the defined tolerances.

We recognize the importance of ensuring the health and safety of University personnel, and responding to their concerns, particularly those who continue to work in temporary work areas. Having said that, we ask your continued patience as we move as rapidly as we can to restore regular campus facilities.

Blenda J. Wilson President

May 26, 1995