President's Office

Era of Transition

January 24, 2012

To the Campus Community:

This week marks the start of the Spring 2012 semester. As always, the first week of the semester is an exciting time as students return to campus. I must be honest: the beginning of the term will be especially challenging for faculty and staff as students try to add classes that we have capped or closed.

This challenge, of course, is compounded by the fact that we are in an era of transition between the "old normal" and a "new normal." We are learning how to work successfully with less state support. On top of these challenges, we must prepare for a new president.

Presidential transitions can be a source of anxiety. We can remedy this by remaining true to the cooperation and engagement that President Jolene Koester inspired. Our next president will find that Cal State Northridge is a strong and resilient academic community.

I also want to address some administrative changes and outline some of the key University projects for the coming months.

Division of Responsibilities in Academic Affairs

As announced, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students William Watkins will serve as Acting Administrator of Academic Affairs during the transition. He will chair the Provost's Council with the assistance of the college deans; chair the University Planning and Budget Group; attend Faculty Senate as well as department, college and faculty meetings as appropriate; and work with Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs Penny Jennings on faculty personnel matters and provide other administrative support as needed. As interim president, I will retain responsibility for the tenure-track faculty retention, tenure and promotion (RTP) process.

Vice Provost Cynthia Rawitch will continue to oversee most academic administrative transactions, curriculum and planning. Additionally, she will replace me on enrollment committees and troubleshoot for the college deans. She will also supervise most Academic Affairs directors and associate vice presidents.

University Projects

Below are some of the key projects from our plans for the spring. This is, of course, not a complete list. Our next president will find a University that does what it says.

  • Ten-Year Resource Study: We will complete consultation on the draft and establish working groups to address the funding gap. President Koester wished to have this ready as a resource for the next president.
  • Budget Planning for Fiscal Year 2012-13: We will develop a budget that reflects our share of the $100 million known permanent cut to the CSU ($7.8 million) and plan for additional reductions.
  • Development Goals and Strategies: Together with University Advancement, the academic leadership will solidify fundraising priorities and set development goals and strategies for 2012-13.
  • Engagement, Branding and WebOne: Building on the Special Task Force on Engagement, we will focus on creating a more robust network of alumni and volunteers. We will collaborate on graphic standards and key messages for the University's communications. And we will implement, step by step, the WebOne system, which is the tool for publishing and managing content for divisional, college and department web sites to facilitate more consistent standards and practices.
  • Summer Course Redesign Institute: Currently under development by the Faculty Technology Center, this summer 2012 program will enable participating faculty members to learn and implement best practices for hybrid and online instruction.

Of course, we will also open the new Student Recreation Center. This project symbolizes the strength and teamwork of the campus. I am proud to be interim president at this time and look forward to working with all of you as we keep "truckin' on." We will do so with the confidence and resourcefulness that has come to define Cal State Northridge.

Harry Hellenbrand
Interim President