Another theme I heard throughout our conversations centered on a profound sense of community and esprit de corps. I saw many instances of colleagues celebrating the good work of their peers, showing up to support one another in challenging times, and pride in our collective commitment to helping our students realize their educational aspirations. Many faculty, staff, and students referred to our campus as a home away from home and beamed with pride in collaborative efforts that have led to a greater sense of community. I also heard a deep sense of loss for the vibrancy of our in-person campus community, a longing for gathering once again on our physical campus, and great concern for the tragically inequitable hardships facing of our communities of color during the pandemic.
I heard of the immense talent across the campus waiting for an opportunity to shine and be empowered to reach their best and highest purpose. Many individuals expressed the notion that while constrained resources will never allow us to do everything, we have the talent and dedication we need to accomplish almost anything if we are guided by a unified vision. Several individuals shared that given the opportunity and ability to decide, enact, and own the work through a distributed leadership model that our highly capable colleagues across campus could accelerate progress on shared goals and realize their own potential.
I also heard that not everyone experiences our campus the same way. I heard descriptions of hierarchies, lack of clarity around organizational structures, and siloed thinking that do not allow for innovative and impactful collaborations that move the university forward. I heard that part-time faculty in some departments feel a lack of connection to the work of the department and a lack of appreciation from full-time employees. Several newer campus colleagues expressed a sense of pressure to stay within a particular box rooted in the history of the campus rather than blaze new trails for the future. I heard about the need to build a strong foundation of trust and mutual respect across campus and the desire for additional avenues and opportunities for collaboration and consultation in the decision-making process.
Several campus constituencies expressed a deep desire to expand our commitment to serving as a steward of place by honoring and partnering with the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians as the original stewards of the land upon which our campus rests. Many voices reminded me that, in lifting the stories and experiences of historically marginalized communities, we should do more to honor the Tataviam culture and community.
I also heard many expressions of hope that I would join the vibrancy of the on-ground campus community by participating in events and activities and spending time with faculty, staff, and students.
WHAT I’M THINKING:
I cannot wait to see you all, in person, across our beautiful campus this fall! CSUN is an exceptional institution of higher learning because of all of you. In my view, the fundamental purpose of an institution of higher learning is to enable human potential. I am dedicated to building upon our ethic of care and fostering a culture that places people first and allows each of us to achieve our highest aspirations. It is clear we have some work to do in ensuring that all members of our community feel a sense of belonging and that their unique talents are valued and engaged to the fullest extent possible. I am committed to investing in the development of our faculty, students, and staff and facilitating a distributed leadership model that will allow us to write a bright next chapter, together.