President's Office

CSUN General Education Update

 August 28, 2018

To the Campus Community,

Welcome back to the 2018-19 academic year! I hope you had a refreshing and productive summer. As we begin a new semester, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Stella Theodoulou and I would like to take a moment to update you on our campus response to CSU Executive Order 1100 Revised (EO 1100R). EO 1100R incorporates changes recommended by CSU faculty, students, administrators and the CSU Academic Senate regarding how system-wide GE policy can better clarify requirements, ensure equitable opportunity for students' success and streamline graduation requirements.

As reported at the Faculty Senate meeting on October 26, 2017, responding to faculty and student concerns over the possible elimination of our unique GE cross-cultural requirements commonly known as Section F, I successfully requested from CSU Chancellor White that CSUN be allowed to retain Section F, which allows us to distinguish and highlight these courses. Let us take a moment to celebrate this tremendous compromise. These courses are critically important in our curriculum for building critical thinking, enhancing cultural awareness and advancing inclusion. While different options were discussed around how we might comply with EO 1100R, there was never a moment when anyone at CSUN nor at the Chancellor's Office suggested we do away with our cross-cultural requirements or our ethnic studies programs.

In spite of the compromise on Section F, the Faculty Senate voted not to reconsider the original motion to withhold participation in implementation of EO 1100R. In response and in consultation with the Senate Executive Committee, I established the GE Task Force to make recommendations that "advance student success through quality general education while maintaining our cross-cultural competency requirements (Section F of current GE Plan) and aligning with the California Education Code." The GE Task Force worked through the spring semester and completed its work last May.

 Over the summer, the Chancellor's Office (CO) clarified that CSUN's GE structure must conform to all aspects of the EO 1100R, as executive orders emanate from Title 5 and carry the weight and authority of California law. Consequently, recommendations that refute or contradict any part of EO 1100R amount to a violation of California law. The Task Force made many positive recommendations that have been shared with the Faculty Senate and may be used as we move forward, however, those recommendations fell short of aligning with the EO in the following areas: the need to designate upper division GE courses in Sections B, C and D only; the need to split Section C into C1 (Arts) and C2 (Humanities); and, allowing all Major-courses that are approved for GE credit to double count for the previously approved GE requirement, as many of our departments already do. 

The week before last, Provost Theodoulou, Faculty President Mary-Pat Stein, several faculty representatives from Senate Executive Committee, the Educational Policies Committee and Ethnic Studies, and I hosted representatives from the CO to discuss our status in relation to the EO. After explaining that all 22 other campuses are on their way to compliance, the CO representatives made clear that - even though we have been granted the compromise of keeping Section F - we will still be required to comply with the other elements of the EO. In recognizing our campus' progress, however, the CO has granted CSUN a one-year extension until Fall 2019 to make the needed changes. 

In accordance with California State University policy, the campus president has the responsibility to implement executive orders. In light of this, the Provost and I have explored every avenue to reach a workable solution or compromise with the faculty. Indeed, the Faculty President and the Senate Executive Committee were actively engaged in open and transparent discussions this summer on possible options on how we might move forward. The Provost and I remain committed to supporting our faculty priorities of meeting our students' needs, challenges and goals, while maintaining our cross-cultural competency commitments. But, we also recognize that, as a campus of the CSU, we must move to align with the remaining components of EO 1100R. 

Thus, in order to move forward in aligning CSUN GE with EO 1100R, I have no choice but to exercise my administrative responsibility to implement the changes, particularly with respect to the structure of the GE requirements, required by the EO. In recognition of the faculty's responsibility and purview over curriculum, we will leave it to Faculty Senate committees to determine the best path to alignment. This is not a decision that I take lightly. Shared governance is something I believe in deeply, and I make this decision only after many attempts at finding solutions. But we have run out of time and must move forward to be in alignment with the CSU.

This has been a challenging process for all of us. Miscommunications, mistakes and assumptions have been made on all sides, including my own and others' misunderstanding of the relationship between the California Education Code, Title V requirements and the executive orders that further establish our requirements when I communicated parameters to the Task Force on GE.  

With the academic year just beginning, and with the progress we have recently made, we are looking forward to a new beginning in which we can affirm the trust and mutual respect that has been the bedrock of CSUN's shared governance ethos for so long. Both the Provost and I want to thank the Task Force for its work, and more importantly, its efforts in moving the discussion forward.

Thank you for your understanding, and we sincerely thank our entire CSUN faculty who are absolutely committed to the success and well-being of our students.


Dianne F. Harrison, Ph.D.

Stella Theodoulou, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs