President's Office

President's 2014 Convocation and Welcome Back Address

President’s Third Convocation and Welcome Back Address

Dianne F. Harrison, President
California State University, Northridge
Valley Performing Arts Center, August 21, 2014, 9 a.m.

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Related Links:
Download a printer-friendly copy of the address (PDF) •Streaming video of the Convocation Address
YouTube video, "2013-14 Year in Review"Convocation Program booklet (PDF - corrected 8/22/2014)

(Note: Though parts of the live address deviate from the prepared text below, the organization and content of both versions are the same.)

Opening Remarks

Thank you, Shane, and thank you, Tiffany, for your inspiring words.

Joining us this morning in the front rows are the members of the President’s Extended Cabinet, who I would like to introduce (no applause until everyone is introduced – we need to share the love equally!):


Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Harry Hellenbrand

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students William Watkins

Vice President for Administration and Finance Colin Donahue

Vice President for Information Technology and CIO Hilary Baker

Vice President for University Advancement Rob Gunsalus

Executive Director of the University Corporation Rick Evans

Chief of Staff Jill Smith

Dean Sylvia Alva, College of Health and Human Development

Dean Joyce Feucht-Haviar, Tseng College of Extended Learning

Our newest dean, Dean Jay Kvapil, Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication

Dean Kenneth Lord, David Nazarian College of Business and Economics

Associate Dean Robert Ryan, sitting in for Dean S.K. Ramesh,
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Dean Elizabeth Say, College of Humanities

Dean Michael Spagna, Michael D. Eisner College of Education

Dean Jerry Stinner, College of Science and Mathematics

Dean Mark Stover, Oviatt Library

Dean Stella Theodoulou, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Vice Provost Michael Neubauer

Athletics Director Brandon Martin

Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jeffrey Noblitt,

Director of Government and Community Relations Francesca Vega

Seated on stage with me, Faculty President Shane Frelich

In special guest seating, Faculty Trustee Steven Stepanek

Joining him is Student Trustee Talar Alexanian

My best friend and confidant, my husband, John Wujak

Your program lists 41 new tenure-track faculty members – many of whom are here today as participants of the New Faculty Orientation – and approximately 230 permanent full-time staff who have joined CSUN and its auxiliaries in the past year or who have taken on new roles; and also congratulates 84 faculty members who were tenured or promoted.Y

Will everyone in these groups, please stand and receive our welcome and congratulations!

I am also pleased to acknowledge the special guests who have joined us this morning: Seated to my right in front are faculty honored at the May Honored Faculty Reception and staff who received Presidential and Merit Awards at June’s Staff Service Awards Ceremony. You’ll find their names listed in the program. Will you please stand and accept our appreciation?

Welcome, everyone, to the 2014-15 academic Year! Happy new year!

Let me begin with an apology. They say the third time is the charm and this is my third convocation. But I have found it impossible given a university of our size and complexity to condense a year’s worth of achievements, goals and aspirations in less than 45 minutes or so. Thank you for allowing almost an hour of your day.

This new year is filled with great promise. I know this because of our track record of success. I know this because every year we achieve more – and our students achieve more! Every step forward and every new recognition allows us to celebrate together as we and our students rise to higher levels of excellence and achievement. The momentum we collectively generate is powerful; our students carry that momentum with them into the world to rise to even greater heights.

I hope that you enjoyed the presentation earlier of some of our highlights and accomplishments this year. There have been many outstanding milestones of which to be proud. I am aware of countless more achievements – as you probably are – and take great pride in them. I appreciate the effort and hard work that have helped advance the university’s mission and priorities, and I trust that you recognize each other for exemplary work! When one of us succeeds, we all succeed!

I am excited to highlight these achievements through visual media which allows us to share more of YOUR good work for the recognition you deserve. In fact, we would be here all day if I read through all of them. But I would like to take a couple of minutes to show you just a few more milestones. I can’t resist!

Thank you, Jeff Noblitt and Richard Chambers of University Advancement, for producing the video.

So, on many fronts, we see the impact we are making in the lives of our students – impacts we make as individual contributors and also collectively as a campus through the power of collaboration and teamwork. Our visibility and reputation are reaching new heights.

When I came to Northridge, I talked about a “second floor,” or building the next level of excellence with the campus community. As you have seen this morning, the signs of construction and excitement are everywhere.

People in the region – the nation – and even across the globe – are coming to know more and more about CSUN, thanks to all of your efforts.

These accomplishments are not isolated either. And we know that it takes our campus village to make it all happen: from those maintaining our air conditioning in the hot Valley summers; to those upgrading our networks; to the faculty who teach, engage in research and creative activity and service; to the advisors who help students plan their course schedule so they can graduate on time! All of you make an essential contribution to the success of CSUN.

President's 2014 ConvocationToday, I will talk about some of our achievements, but more about the year ahead of us and our goals for the coming year. And I do this in the context of the seven university priorities – in case you need a reminder, these priorities are listed once again in your program. There will not be a test – but you really should know them.

I said earlier that we are constructing our second level – and like any good construction project, this new level will depend on a strong foundation and focus that our priorities provide. Our priorities and associated goals will guide our path and help us demonstrate our accountability and our progress. They provide structure to our decision-making and help us envision the possibilities.

Some of the goals we’ll talk about today build on our successes; others, quite frankly, are deliberate interventions on issues that require more urgent attention. I have great confidence, though, in CSUN’s ability to move forward: I have not seen a challenge we cannot overcome together. TOGETHER. Not just Academic Affairs; not Administration and Finance or Student Affairs, IT, University Advancement, or the University Corporation; not any single division or department. To rise to the levels we want to achieve, we need to work together across divisions.

Before I continue, however, I want to acknowledge a very sad and tragic event that occurred earlier this summer when one of our students, Armando Villa, passed away while on a fraternity-sponsored hike in the Angeles National Forest. Since this matter is still being investigated by both the university and law enforcement, in the absence of a final report, it would be premature for me to offer any speculation or judgment. However, this tragedy is a sober reminder of our collective responsibility as a community in ensuring the well-being and safety of our students. I know you all share in the deep, heartfelt condolences that have been extended to his family. I assure you, Armando will be remembered and his life will have a meaningful impact at the university.

I would like to ask you now for a moment of silence for Armando Villa.


Thank you.

1. Student Success

Let me now focus on our priorities, starting with student success. It’s only appropriate as all other priorities are components of it; student success is our unrelenting focus and TOP priority. Every conversation I have on campus confirms that you share this as our #1 priority.

This fall, we expect to have close to 40,000 headcount students. This includes approximately 5,500 first time freshmen, around 5,800 new transfers, and close to 1,500 new post-baccalaureate students. And, given the large number of new students we have admitted over the last three years, we expect to have larger numbers of continuing students than last fall. 

President's 2014 ConvocationWe are way over our enrollment target as dictated by the Chancellor’s Office. Because the state is still funding the system based on student enrollment numbers, I see no likelihood of the CSU moving toward huge growth. Most of us were attracted to the CSU because of the mission related to access and providing the opportunity for high quality education that was also affordable. Many of our sister CSU campuses have already moved toward full campus impaction (aka denying admission) in order to manage the excess demand for enrollment and stay within their designated targets. Unfortunately, given the budget realities, in the coming months we will be taking a serious look at the need to also declare full impaction at CSUN. I personally find that possibility and prospect to be contrary to our mission of access and it is not something that most of us would prefer. But we may have no choice. Lots of discussion and consultation will take place before that decision is made and it is a two year process for approval.

Regardless of the numbers, we know our students are in a rapidly changing world. As an example, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (or AAC&U), which has taken an active role in investigating what characteristics employers look for in college graduates, found that there is remarkable agreement among employers about the learning outcomes that college graduates need. These include skills and competencies in critical thinking, problem solving, ethical decision making, and intercultural communication. In fact, more than 90 percent of employers said that these skills and competencies are more important than an undergraduate’s major.

But students need to stay in school and graduate to succeed in today’s world. Our goal should be to help our students persist and complete their degrees; obtain skills valued by employers; and develop habits of social responsibility and civic participation.

This is a challenge we must face head on with urgency!

  • One-year continuation rates for new students are a crucial metric in evaluating institutional progress in support of student persistence and graduation. The most current data available indicates a continuation rate of 78% for CSUN first time freshman who started as of 2012-13. The overall CSUcontinuation rate for that same cohort of students was 85%. Clearly, we have work to do.
    • We all play a part in helping our students continue from year to year… obviously an important aspect of making it to graduation. YOU ALL PLAY A PART IN THIS:
      • In the classroom, in advising, in financial aid, in a department office, in the student rec center, everywhere!
      • Sometimes students ask for help, sometimes they don’t.
      • In many cases, they’re still young, sometimes older, but they’re still learning… more than the curriculum, students need to learn how to navigate the process and our bureaucracy. Please help and please empathize with our students’ situations and life experiences. Some have very little self-confidence in their academic abilities. You can make a difference.

  • We will also be focusing attention on our traditionally underserved and academically at-risk students. We have – YOU have – made great progress through remediation, but we are losing some of our students even after they have successfully completed remediation. We will be looking into the “whys” of that phenomenon. Again, we can support them as a campus community! We must be deliberate and intentional in our interactions and interventions.

  • We also must work together to progress students to graduation. Our 6-year graduation rate has fallen slightly to 45% from a hard earned 48%. I’m sure that you agree that we need to go even higher!
    • We will be studying this very carefully in the months to come to identify the high impact practices that can be scaled up; we know some already. We know, for instance, that students who take English and math prerequisites in the first two years are succeeding at higher rates than those that do not. Why do we not require this of all students?
    • And what else can we do? We know that culminating experiences, or capstones, are an excellent strategy for instilling important skills and assessing student learning. Yet not all of our students have these experiences.
    • We know that undergraduates who are involved in research, community service, and/or internships graduate at higher rates – but again, not all of our students have these opportunities. We need to figure out how to expand these opportunities for more of our students.

We’ve set a formal goal with the Chancellor’s Office to raise the graduation rate 2.5% for each of the next two years!

President's 2014 ConvocationAnd beyond graduation, we need to grow our alumni as leaders by providing our graduates with the skills needed in today’s world to keep up and remain competitive:

  • AAC&U’s LEAP 2.0 challenge asks that every college student during the course of their studies work on a project or topic that is significant both to the student and the wider society, whether it be the workplace, society or broader, global community. The goal is to connect their learning and intellectual progress to a problem-centered application that requires inquiry, analysis, evidence-based reasoning, engagement with diverse perspectives, and reflection on the results. The challenges of today’s world and the problems facing students when they graduate make this a very relevant exercise we should consider for all of our students.

  • This effort aligns with a new report called the Students of the Future from the American Council on Education that urges higher education institutions to develop strategies now to meet the changing needs of college students, because these needs are expected to shift over the next decade due to major changes in demographics, technology and learning styles.​|

  • Our graduates must also acquire cultural competency and prepare for an increasingly diverse world.

  • They should be innovators. I would ask the faculty to consider: what would it take for your students/majors to become LEADERS and innovators in their field or discipline? What are we doing by way of cutting edge and cross discipline thinking and approaches? How often do you review your curriculum for currency and relevancy?
    • Entrepreneurship – it’s not a dirty word. It’s competing in a global economy.
    • As I heard a provost from a sister CSU remark: “We don’t need more best practices – we know what they are! We ‘NEED’ more practitioners!” We need to scale up what we know works with our students.
    • I would encourage us to individualize learning and start where our students are – whether they need extra help to catch up or extra encouragement to excel even beyond than their original aspirations.
  • We should evaluate not only our academic practices, but also our business practices to make it easier for students to navigate our system. Toward that end, I am pleased to note that the CSUN mobile app has just received a significant upgrade that allows students to pay for tuition and other campus-related fees via their phones that complement the existing enrollment and waitlist functionality already used by students.  Did you know that some marketing research by Cisco found that incoming freshmen would rather give up their driving privileges than their cell phones? My thanks to Vice President Hilary Baker and the development team at IT for your ongoing focus on enhancing the CSUN app.

  • I also am pleased to announce that CSUN has established the Northridge Dreamers Scholarship, available for our undocumented students, an emerging and important segment of our student population who otherwise have no type of tuition support or little funding available to them. This program compliments our other scholarships on campus. My thanks to Vice President William Watkins and the Financial Aid Office staff, under the leadership of Lili Vidal, for their efforts to help implement these scholarships for the first time this semester.


2. Focus on Employees for Success

The priority on employee success recognizes that the excellence and success of the university and its efforts on behalf of students are all made possible because of the individual and collective contributions of faculty and staff. We are all part of a learning community and this priority celebrates and nurtures employee success and growth.

President's 2014 ConvocationMy goal is to make CSUN a desirable destination work place where the contributions of faculty and staff are acknowledged and valued, and all employees are engaged and committed to university goals and priorities.

This past year, we celebrated our employees in a number of ways:

  • We held our first ever campus-wide holiday party and summer picnic for employees, with more than 700 and 1000 attendees respectively at each event!

  • I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet many of you in small groups at the staff breakfasts and faculty luncheons. I look forward to hosting more and meeting more of you in coming year.

  • We continued the Help Make CSUN Shine Bright program, which provides all students and employees an opportunity to give feedback and new ideas on various topics. This year, topics covered whether CSUN should be a smoke-free campus and sustainability.
    • A summary of the sustainability feedback has been posted; and I’ll discuss sustainability shortly as a priority!
    • The results of the smoking topic was reviewed by the university Task Force on Becoming a Smoke-Free Campus, chaired by Linda Chassiakos and Diane Schwartz. Campus feedback was very useful to the Task Force in reviewing possible actions. We are at a challenging juncture; you want to be a smoke free campus, but some of you don’t want our small smoking community to be burdened by the actions necessary to accomplish this. We will be discussing this more in the coming months as the CSU is going to take a system-wide stance. I’d like to get ahead of this though! (I would like us to become smoke free by fall 2015.)
    Overall, the response to the Make CSUN Shine Bright program has been tremendous and I appreciate everyone’s online contributions, feedback and ideas. I enjoy the dialogue as I hope you do. And the questions may get even tougher!

  • The university has expanded its professional development programs, which are important to “connecting the dots” with university priorities and encouraging greater cross-divisional understanding and collaboration on campus initiatives.
    • One such program that will help fulfill this goal is the CSUN Shine from Within Program, which I announced at the Staff Service Awards in June. The program will launch this fall with its first cohort and was developed by this past year’s REAL Program team made up of MPP and faculty members, as a staff counterpart to that program. It is a great opportunity for participants to learn more about the university and build connections and expand their network across campus.

We still have challenges:

  • While CSUN enrolls an extremely diverse student population (HSI and AAPIS designations), our faculty and, to a lesser extent, our staff, do not reflect our student diversity. In each and every one of the all­college meetings and campus presentations including the Faculty Senate, I have challenged these campus groups to increase the diversity in our hiring. I have similarly and strongly challenged the vice presidents in their hiring practices to ensure the most diverse applicant pools as possible!
    • Toward this end, we will engage in a comprehensive study of diversity hiring practices over the last decade to identify opportunities and challenges to campus climate and develop baseline diversity and inclusion competency across the university to enhance faculty and staff diversity.
  • The topics of civility and bullying have been raised on campus this past year and the need for some type of policy and expectations that affect all units and employees. Some of you have stepped forward to lead in this! I hope you agree that this cannot be negotiable. To foster student success – to create a destination workplace – we MUST nurture an environment where all faculty and staff are supportive of intellectual exchange and differing perspectives to advance the university, within a framework of civility and respect for allindividuals regardless of position or title.
    • Thanks to the Faculty Senate for your leadership. They have already started conversation on the topic.
    • We will also work toward a general civility policy on campus. Thank you in advance for your work and your support of this.
    • Let’s agree to work on our discourse and civility, and remember in every moment, our actions impact our students – both positively and, unfortunately, “otherwise.”

  • I’d also like to ask for your assistance in being aware and involved in efforts to eradicate sexual violence, harassment and stalking on campus. It’s a serious problem across the nation.
    • Though sexual violence is comparatively low at CSUN, it is not zero and we are not without our issues and cannot become complacent.
    • It is likely a very high number of incidents go unreported. Our victims – male and female – need our help. They need safe havens and they need to know all of the MANY resources available to them.
    • This is required by law, but it is also who we are, and our values. None of us can achieve success without a safe and secure environment.
    • Training will be launched soon. The CSU will be discussing this soon with our labor partners, similar to other mandated training. I hope to make something available for all employees, more than likely sooner. If you are willing to participate to learn how to help each other and your students, and what you can do and must do if someone reports it to you or you are, heaven forbid, either a victim or a bystander, I encourage your (early) participation.

  • We know that more and more students are arriving on campus with a host of mental health issues. The Chancellor’s Office has also recently initiated a new electronic resource called the Red Folder, that will help faculty and staff identify, respond and refer students in distress. It is designed to promote and strengthen mental health services across all CSU campuses. Vice President Watkins has taken the campus lead on this project and will distribute the resource to all faculty and staff this fall – I encourage everyone to review and use this resource when you receive it!

  • And on the topic of compensation, because the CSU is still bargaining with our employee unions, I can only say that employee raises were one of our top priorities and remain so. I am sorry that the Governor did not agree to fund an additional $90 million to our budget. I hope that agreements are reached with all of our groups.

3. Increasing the Visibility and Reputation of the University

I am reassured that there is understanding and broad support for this effort.

It is important for CSUN to be recognized for its excellence; for the contributions it brings to the city of Los Angeles and to California.

But it isn’t just about recognition. Increased visibility and reputation also enhance:

  • CSUN’s presence and relationships in the community with local organizations and businesses, education partners, and at the regional and national levels.
  • Makes CSUN graduates more desirable to employers by enhancing the value of a CSUN degree in people’s minds.
  • And, of course, attracts philanthropic and corporate support.

This past year, CSUN embarked on an integrated identity building process to develop a plan for enhancing the university’s visibility and reputation in the greater LA region.

We have already made great strides toward this goal to get the story about CSUN out there:

  • We initiated the widely embraced CSUN Shine campaign to share news of achievements and progress from across campus and sparked a palpable increase in Matador pride.

  • University Advancement launched the CSUN Shine Weekly e-newsletter that goes to 120,000 faculty, staff, alumni and friends.

  • CSUN’s social media activity has resulted in the CSU-leading number of more than 90,000 friends of CSUN Facebook pages, more than 113,000 connections to our LinkedIn pages, and more than 11,000 followers of CSUN Twitter accounts. CSUN has the most followed/liked Facebook page in the CSU!

In the coming year:

  • We will launch an external positioning campaign focused on the CSUN service area. Thanks to everyone who took part in recent focus groups. We secured a three-year commitment of $2.5 million from the CSUN Foundation to support the positioning effort and other outreach and fundraising programs. We have developed metrics to evaluate the impact of the campaign as well.
  • We also will continue exploring the feasibility of a Multipurpose Event Center(MEC) on campus:
    • We are very early in the process and engaged in discussions with community, business and political leaders regarding potential partnerships to fund an MEC facility serving this region.
    • This is obviously a very major project that will require significant campus, community and regional partnership and support before proceeding.
    • And the university will need to identify a viable and realistic funding structure and finance model for both the construction and operation of the facility before deciding to move forward or not.


4. Plan for a Future Less Dependent on State Funding

While the CSU state budget increased slightly this year, the Governor did not support our additional $90 million request and we are still left at 1980s’ level overall funding. We need to find new sources of revenue to maintain and build excellence.

Toward this goal, we have:

  • Improved the transparency of budget planning and development processes across the campus and worked to develop a better common understanding of campus finances and sources of state and non-state funds, allowing for improved participation by the campus community to inform on budget priorities. This coming year, we will do our best to get the University Planning and Budget Group working earlier in the semester on helping to set budget priorities.

  • The improved performance of CSUN auxiliaries, The University Corporation and the North Campus Development Corporation, will allow for a more than 30% increase in surplus they will contribute to CSUN next year.

  • We increased CSUN self-support degree and certificate programs (12% in 2013/2014) to expand educational options for working adults across their career span, support economic development in the larger region, and provide new sources of revenue to reinvest in University capacities for instruction and support services.

  • We implemented a partnership agreement with a nationwide firm to increase corporate sponsorship revenues for Athletics. We have already completed several sponsorships, including a multi-year healthcare sponsorship with Providence Health Systems.

  • Philanthropy, of course, will play an important role. Though we will depend on Vice President Rob Gunsalus and our new Associate Vice President for Development, Shannon Yasman, to lead these efforts, and myself, of course, we can ALL play a role in this area. Hearing from students and faculty is often very effective with prospective donors.

This has been a very successful year in philanthropy for CSUN: We have met or exceeded our goal of raising 10% of our state budget in philanthropic dollars and want to reach a 15% target. New gift commitments increased from $11.4 million in fiscal year 2011-12, to $14.8 million in 2012-13, to $20 million (projected) in 2013-14, a 75% increase in two years.

The highlight this past year, of course, was the commitment from CSUN alumnus David Nazarian to lead a $25 million fundraising effort for the College of Business and Economics that he launched with a personal cash gift of $10 million and resulted in the renaming of the college.



5. Increase Research Activity and Sponsored Programs

Increased research activity and sponsored programs not only enhances our budget and funding for faculty and students, but also deepens students’ learning and intellectual curiosity when they work with faculty doing research and fieldwork. Faculty research and creative activity are expanding! We need to continue to expand these activities even more to meet the emerging challenges in the disciplines, as well as to enhance our reputation and quality of education in the state and region.

To accomplish this, our goal remains the same: to increase/double research funding in the coming years

One way we are supporting these activities is in partnership with LA Cleantech Incubator – or LACI –which represents CSUN’s next phase of engagement with businesses and industries to make a positive impact on the economic growth of our region through invention, experimentation, and creativity.

  • LACI@CSUN will also help students, faculty, and alumni understand how ideas can become reality in the arena of new enterprise. It will provide another link between the innovative minds among alumni, students and faculty and the larger region and the ongoing work in teaching and research at CSUN.
  • In addition, we have positioned the university as a regional leader and partner in economic and community development efforts in business/government/K–12. We’ve led the way through the establishment of the “CSU5.” It is a consortium that pools the talents and resources of the five L.A. County CSU campuses: CSUN, Dominguez Hills, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Cal Poly Pomona, to bring the collective strength and resources of the CSU for the purpose of networking and working collaboratively with community and industry partners to increase innovation in industry and job creation in L.A. and to work with our K–12 and community college partners.
    • We already have made great progress: we have joined the Southern California Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) that recently received IMCP designation by the U.S. Commerce Department, making us – and all of Los Angeles - eligible for program funding from the federal government.
  • Similarly, through Extended Learning, we have become major partners with L.A. County on workforce development. During the coming year, we look forward to other initiatives around which we can leverage great collective strength – especially around water issues!

And while this does bring visibility to the university – just as importantly, it provides students the service learning and research experience to support our communities! We need to work with our communities to advance economic development and quality of life issues; this, in turn, leads to an enhanced student experience that will help them get better jobs and admission to top graduate schools. And, if we don’t help, the L.A. economy may not be able to support our graduates by having available jobs.

6. Sustainability

In June, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion with a few other university presidents on “How Colleges and Universities Are Leading a Nationwide Transformation to Meet Sustainability and Environmental Challenges,” recorded for possible broadcast by NPR and online. It was an opportunity to highlight the leadership role that universities – and particularly the CSU and CSUN – are playing in sustainability efforts.

As I mentioned during the panel, universities have a responsibility to educate future generations of global citizens and to model sustainable practices. This effort not only advances sustainability, but it furthers the university’s academic mission. It also has potential research and economic benefits. And given what we are seeing today – climate change and California’s extreme drought crisis – it is the right thing to do.

In June, our Institute for Sustainability released its annual update which reports on CSUN’s significant progress on this issue, around areas like reduced water usage, increased recycling, reduced energy use, increased use of public transportation, increased curricular offerings, recycling food wastes, and greater use of “real food.” I encourage everyone to look at the report.

Just a few examples of our progress and accomplishments:

  • This fall, we will open the Matasphere, a new living-learning community in student housing with sustainability and conservation as the focus.

  • I recently signed on to Alliance for Resilient Campuses.

  • Compost and food garden: In-house composting by students of kitchen green waste and coffee grounds from campus food services and other sources.

  • Bicycle Plan: Urban Studies and Planning Professor Zeynep Toker and her students have carried out surveys related to bicycle use and worked on the design of a bicycle plan for the campus.

  • Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping has been conducted of campus facilities to understand energy impacts and help us create a campus climate action plan to reduce energy.

  • Last spring, A.S. brought Zipcars to campus and there are more to come this fall. Thank you, Tiffany and A.S.!

I am proud sustainability is a priority that has galvanized and engaged the entire campus community from diverse divisions and disciplines, from our auxiliaries that manage food services, to the Geography Department that conducted the GIS mapping, to urban studies, student housing, Associated Students, student clubs, and so on.

This year, we will redouble our efforts in support of our climate – and our earth.

We will pay particular attention to our drought and continue our aggressive water reduction efforts. We will complete indoor plumbing retrofits – many are done already – and continue to improve irrigation system control.

We’ll also continue to aggressively target our energy consumption:

  • We’ve already made good progress through reducing our outdoor electrical loads with LED technology – Matador Walk was completed this summer!

  • Using GIS campus space technology we plan to reduce “off maximum energy” by 20% this next year – meaning when buildings aren’t occupied, they will not be lit up and cooled.

The University Corporation is diving deeply into additional sustainability efforts as well, including meeting “real food” requirements (natural, locally sourced) and post-consumer composting. This is actually more complicated than one would think, but they are already strategizing – we can do this and more!

I challenge each of you individually to do what you can to support our campus efforts – and then go even further.


7. Using Athletics as a Tool for Engagement

Under the leadership of our Athletics Director, Brandon Martin, and his staff and coaches, CSUN student­ athletes won 42 All­-Conference, five All­-American and several Academic All­-American Awards. The women’s basketball team won the Big West Conference championship and went to the NCAA championship tournament for the first time as the Big West representative and women's track and field team did well at NCAA championships, finishing 10th after running the second-fastest time in school history in the 4x100 meter relay.

All this has led to real progress on this priority, to use Athletics as a tool for engagement.

  • We have seen significant increases in attendance at four sports: men’s basketball, 65%; men’s soccer, 26%; women’s volleyball, 15%; and women’s basketball, 10%. Gate receipt/ticket revenue improved across all sports by 23% (100% increase for men’s basketball).

  • Our teams appeared in 45 produced broadcasts on BigWest TV and, for the first time in CSUN history, in HD.

  • Monthly visits to are on the rise, with a record 245,000 hits in March 2014.

Other achievements:

  • The Rise of the Matadorsidentity campaign was introduced to great response.
    • Thank you for all of your support. It’s showing in the stands, it’s showing on our clothes and, importantly, it’s showing in our Matador pride!
  • We have a new agreement with local retailer Sport Chalet, which will carry CSUN gear with our new identity.

We must also remember that our student athletes are also scholars. This spring, we inducted 45 new members in our Varsity ‘N honor society, which recognizes student athletes for academic achievement. In support of their academic success, this year we will successfully complete the third year of an NCAA grant focused on improving the academic success of at risk athletics teams, which helped fund the Matador Achievement Center.

In the coming year, we will:

  • Improve the academic success of our student athletes through dedicated support programs and initiatives. We will do this by assessing their current level of academic support, tutoring and counseling programs and resources, making necessary adjustments to bring CSUN in line with best practices for high academically-performing Division I athletic programs, and implementing strategies within the overall program and individual sports to meet defined progress goals.

  • We will successfully complete the third year of our NCAA grant, which helped fund the Matador Achievement Center and improve the academic success rate of all of our teams.

  • We will increase the visibility of CSUN athletics within the campus and the region, with the goal of increasing pride and affiliation.

  • This year, we also will be introducing Sand Volleyball as a new varsity sport! In addition to supporting our student athletes, the new courts will be also be available for student intramural and academic use.

  • And to our student athletes here today – we are committed to achieving measurable increases in event attendance and participation among all constituent groups. We will support you and so will A.S. and other students – see you at your games!



In summary, it’s been a good year, in fact, a great year. We rose to meet challenges and it is evident in the accolades of our students and the buzz about CSUN, our academic programs and faculty across the region, and in some areas, across the U.S. and the globe.

  • We will continue to face challenges in the future, but I am confident we can meet and overcome them. In fact, why not set the bar for ourselves higher? We have goals that will be made public following review by the Chancellor, but we should always strive for excellence and higher expectations for our students – and for our faculty and staff.

  • And we should effectively leverage CSUN data to better inform our decisions – through greater use of predictive analytics throughout the university and expanded use of learner analytics by faculty to guide student success.

  • One more point – some of you may not know this, but we are NOT a commuter campus – we are an urban campus.  “Commuters” connotes disengagement.  Many students drive to campus, but live in our immediate community – often in the apartments across the street – all total, nearly half of our student body lives within 10 miles of campus.  Our students are participating in extracurricular campus activities in increasing number; our students are a part of campus life, 24/7.  This is one the reasons that I very much appreciate the work of Student Affairs – they enhance our students’ experiences outside of class and keep students connected.

As I said last year, I want CSUN to be known nationally, statewide and regionally for being an outstanding educational institution – with highly-ranked academic programs and faculty; where all students have every opportunity to engage in research, internships, learning communities, and cutting-edge technology; and where we nurture and grow the future talent and leaders of our state and nation.

We already reflect the future demographics of California and the U.S., and we can educate our future leaders right here. I want CSUN to be known for providing the most incredible education in the CSU and in California, and to have evidence of that by our graduation rates, career and graduate school placement rates, and other external validations. (Like our film program being ranked in the top 25 nationally for the first time!)

I want students to know that quality, and job or career placement, or graduate school placement, is our “middle name.” I want CSUN to be the envy of institutions who also strive for access and diversity, because we do it better than anyone.

That is my vision of CSUN – a campus of inclusive excellence that produces leaders and innovators and the highest percentage of successful graduates in an environment of caring, civility, mutual respect, and celebrating each other’s successes.

Thank you for all of your work as we welcome the start of the 2014-15 academic year. I hope you have a great year.

Below is a close captioned video recording of the President's address.