President's Office

From the President's Desk August 26 1997

Welcome Back to Campus!

I hope all of you had a relaxing summer and are excited about the start of the new academic year. We are looking forward to a year of academic achievement for our students, college-level strategic planning, improved relations with the external community, and challenging enrollment and financial planning.

During freshmen orientation week, I have been able to welcome and greet the newest members of our campus community. Thanks to the Student Affairs staff and faculty who have participated in freshman orientation activities, they are prepared for and enthusiastic about beginning their academic careers at Cal State Northridge. Among the new freshmen is the inaugural class of 16 Presidential Scholars, who will have the additional opportunity to work with faculty and staff who will be their mentors during the year.

Let me also offer a warm welcome to a wonderful group of new faculty and administrators, who will be introduced to you by the Vice Presidents and within our campus media. We look forward to the new perspectives and contributions they will bring to the campus.


About a month ago, I announced to you that I was a candidate for the presidency of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. On Monday, the Board of Governors appointed Dr. Irvin Reid, President of Montclair State University in New Jersey, to that position. I am pleased that the Board was able to reach consensus and select a talented future leader for a university whose mission and potential are admirable.

As I indicated to you then, because Wayne State University represented a unique combination of personal and professional interests, it was the only candidacy that I was willing to entertain as an alternative to remaining at Cal State Northridge. That remains my conviction. I will not seek or accept any offer to be a candidate for another university presidency and am delighted to remain at Cal State Northridge to continue and complete the exciting and important work we have undertaken together.

During these weeks since I informed you of my candidacy, I've experienced the joy of being part of the Cal State Northridge community many, many times - consulting the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate at its retreat; observing faculty and staff return to the Sierra complex; greeting freshmen at orientation; meeting the Presidential Scholars and their families; and welcoming faculty and staff back from the summer respite.

On each occasion, I witnessed the accomplishments and leadership of those within this institution whose intelligence, creativity and devotion make Cal State Northridge the remarkable institution it is. We have important work and demanding challenges ahead of us, but I am confident that we can continue the momentum of achievement and resolve that I have been privileged to be part of these past five years.

I am deeply grateful for the caring and kind words you have expressed to me during these recent weeks and want you to know that I will continue to give my best effort and devotion, for many years to come, to advancing the mission of our institution.


I am pleased to announce that Dr. Nalsey Tinberg will be joining my office this year as an ACE Fellow. The ACE Fellowship Program was created in 1965 to strengthen higher education by pairing faculty and staff members who aspire to leadership positions with presidents and other senior administrators.

Dr. Tinberg is a Professor of Mathematics at Occidental College. She has served also as Chair of the Department of Mathematics and President of the Faculty Council. She was the driving force behind the establishment of an on-campus child development center for faculty, staff and the community and has been an active leader in both the Untenured Faculty Organization and the Occidental Women's Collective.

During her year at Cal State Northridge, Dr. Tinberg will be working to increase her knowledge and understanding of university decision-making, governance, finances and external relations. Dr. Tinberg will be joining me in campus meetings and events and will have opportunities to work with many of you on specific projects during her fellowship year.


Governor Wilson signed the long awaited 1997/98 budget for the California State University on August 18th, ending a seven-week delay in funding for the new fiscal year. The final budget provided $30.4 million to eliminate a fee increase for students and a four percent compensation pool to fund increases in salary and benefits costs for represented and nonrepresented employees. Funding of $1 million for outreach, $7 million for physical plant maintenance, and $8.5 million for academic technology was also included in the final budget, but the governor vetoed $2.5 million which had been redirected in the legislative budget for technology efforts.

Technology Funding. Technology is one of the most important areas of underfunding in the 1997/98 Cal State Northridge budget. At the system level, the continued need for exploring solutions such as the public/private partnership approach to support our technology initiatives was underscored by the exclusion of the $18 million augmentation requested by the CSU for technology infrastructure funding. In addition, a portion of the planned operating budget allocation for technology was reallocated to enhance salaries as agreed to under collective bargaining.

Although the CSU successfully retained the telecommunications portions of some capital projects in the 1997/98 capital budget, the 1998/99 capital budget request (which is currently unfunded and dependent on the passage of another bond measure) does not contain any telecommunications projects. Other funding sources, such as systemwide fee increases, also are unlikely given that the legislature this year chose to find general fund money to eliminate the planned university fee increase, while making very difficult cuts in other social programs.

As the state funding support for K-12, corrections and health and welfare continues to increase, the percentage of the state budget remaining for higher education will continue to decline. Given the expected increase in student demand over the next decade and the many additional funding needs, the CSU will need to pursue alternative funding options to achieve and maintain technological currency.

Intercollegiate Athletics. The request by State Senator Cathie Wright to earmark $586,000 to keep four sports programs in place at Cal State Northridge was included in the final spending plan. Specifically, the language reads that if there is a $15 million or more carry-over in the CSU at the end of the budget year, $586,000 is to be directed to Cal State Northridge to restore the eliminated sports. As you already know, earlier this summer the University Corporation voted to make a $586,000 loan to athletics for the restoration, for one year, of the four sports which had been cut in the late spring due to a budget deficit, gender equity restraints and the priority of the university's academic, operational and strategic funding requirements.


At the systemwide level, the solicitation of new revenue through public/private partnership strategies is called the Systemwide Internal Partnership (SIP). This effort is advancing at a rapid and successful pace. I'd like to take this opportunity to address several frequently asked questions about the purpose and impact of this CSU initiative.

SIP was established in October 1996 by the Chancellor and 22 CSU Presidents to address the system's estimated $70-$120 million technology infrastructure funding gap. The purpose of the initiative is to identify the means to complete and keep current both the systemwide telecommunications infrastructure (intra- and inter-campus) and the baseline technology structure (access, training, and support).

The SIP team has established the scope and readiness of the CSU for this undertaking and solicited private industry for partners to invest in a common technology vision which will enable us to achieve our goals of excellence in learning and teaching, quality of the student experience, personal productivity and administrative productivity. For its part, the CSU can offer a variety of assets to the proposed public/private partnership, including training and skills development resources and facilities, collaborative research and product development sites, and access to the faculty, staff, students, and alumni associated with the CSU.

We are grateful to Dr. Sue Curzon, Vice Provost for Information and Technology Resources, for the leadership and long working hours she has devoted to this initiative as the campus designee, and for her continuing efforts as chair of the SIP Implementation Team. The selection of business partners and a detailed implementation plan are to be completed by the end of the calendar year. We will keep you informed about the progress of the SIP initiative and look forward to addressing any future questions you may have about the university's technology efforts.


In addition to the budget allocation for Cal State Northridge athletics, supplemental budget language, sponsored by Senator Cathie Wright, expressed the intent that the President of Cal State Northridge would convene a task force of representatives from the faculty, student body, administration and the local community to review issues related to providing an athletic program in compliance with Title IX and the Cal/NOW consent decree; to develop a long-term plan for a balanced and financially viable athletic program; and to report to the Legislature by March 1, 1998, on the findings of the review.

We consider this review and plan an important and welcome opportunity to provide a foundation for informed opinions within the university community and the external community regarding the requirements, costs, benefits and sources of financial support for intercollegiate athletics at the campus. The review will inform and involve essential stakeholders throughout its deliberations.

The Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics is now being established in consultation with the CSUN Community Advisory Board. The task force will be asked to submit a report summarizing factual information about intercollegiate athletic programming, conference affiliation, Title IX and Cal/NOW requirements, funding options, and a preliminary long-range plan for intercollegiate athletics programming at California State University, Northridge no later than December 1, 1997, to enable funding recommendations to be considered within the normal budget process of the university.

All task force meetings will be open to the public. I will consult broadly with established university governance committees about the task force's recommendations and plan prior to making final decisions on the recommendations. Finally, no later than March 1, 1998, the task force will submit a report to the state legislature outlining a summary of the task force process, its final recommendations and the decisions of the university relative to long-range commitments to a balanced and financially viable intercollegiate athletic program.


In the July 14 President's Desk I reported that we had received the final report of the North Campus Task Force, the 28-member community group established in April to develop a concept plan for the future development of the university's 65-acre North Campus property. You will recall that the task force was established in response to the interest and concerns of our neighbors and civic organizations about the proposal of the North Campus Development Corporation to build a retail University MarketCenter.

The task force met over five weeks to explore development opportunities that would produce new, stable revenues for the university's academic mission and be compatible with the neighborhood adjacent to the property and with facility needs that are valued by the community. The task force's concept plan includes a new and expanded football stadium; entertainment industry uses, such as a movie/TV studio and/or production facilities; a hotel and conference center; facilities for research and development. It also suggests retail uses on a smaller scale than the original proposal for the MarketCenter. Plans propose generous landscaped buffers and pedestrian walkways to connect the various facilities and complement the surrounding residential areas.

The task force report was submitted to Los Angeles City Councilman Hal Bernson and his North Campus Citizens' Advisory Committee, which provided additional comments and suggestions. Following this consultation and review by the North Campus Development Corporation, we asked our developer to prepare a revised plan for the MarketCenter, consistent with the task force recommendations and Councilman Bernson's guidance.

The revised plan was presented in an open meeting to interested campus and community members on August 25, 1997. The proposed MarketCenter is now approximately 150,000 square feet of retail space, a reduction of more than 70,000 square feet from the previous plan; it includes extensive landscaping and architectural treatments to create a unique environment and asset to the community. The reduced size of the project continues to advance the university's long-range financial goals to develop alternative revenue sources to compensate for reductions in traditional sources of funding and achieves this result in a manner that respects the interests and concerns of neighbors and the community.

The revised plan will be presented to the CSU Board of Trustees at its September meeting. Other suggestions resulting from the task force concept plan will be used as we plan over the next several years for the full development of the North Campus property.


A year ago I was happy to report substantial gains in our enrollment of new freshman and transfer students due, in part, to the excellent work of Student Outreach and Recruitment Services and Undergraduate Studies. This year our enrollment numbers continue to increase, and the largest factor is an increase in retention of continuing students.

A number of retention efforts have been put in place during recent years including changes in the advising system, testing to establish developmental needs, and improved early intervention, including the Summer Bridge program. The dedication of so many who have planned, advised, tutored and counseled students appears to be reaping dividends in our retention numbers.

Preliminary indications show that the number of continuing freshmen is up 18.9% between Fall 1996 and Fall 1997. The number of continuing sophomores is up 15.8% for the same period. As a result, we are now projecting a Fall headcount of 27,393, up from our post-earthquake low of 23,976. The predicted FTES of roughly 19,530 is about 500 FTES over our fall target of 19,054 and well above our annualized target of 18,680.

While we are pleased to have strong enrollments, we are also aware of our obligation to provide a quality education to enrolled students. After consultation with the Provost and members of the Enrollment Management Committee, we have determined that the best course of action in response to our fall enrollment numbers is to maintain the legislated priority to upper division transfers while shortening the application period for first-time freshmen and lower division transfers for the Spring 1998 semester. Applications from upper division transfer students will be accepted until we reach our target number, which is expected sometime in early September. Similarly, we will remain open to post-baccalaureate applicants until our target is reached, perhaps as early as October.


As part of our strategic initiative to enhance our alliances with the community, this summer the university joined the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley. The alliance is a regional economic development coalition designed to manage and promote the economic vitality and rebuilding of the San Fernando Valley. Over the next five years, the alliance hopes to launch regional initiatives and help implement programs impacting:

  • the retention and expansion of existing businesses
  • education/workforce development
  • image enhancement
  • pro-business public policy initiatives
  • proactive marketing to attract new job-creating opportunities.

The alliance will focus on key industry clusters, including entertainment, health care, tourism, information technology-based businesses, manufacturing, and service providers.

The university's participation in the alliance, through membership investment and in-kind services, will provide a direct link to the economic sectors of our community, the opportunity for our students to supply the work requirements of Valley businesses, and access for our talented faculty to participate in plans, studies, etc., related to the Valley's future economic planning efforts.


Cal State Northridge had a very busy summer in our earthquake recovery efforts, including the demolition of the Fine Arts Building, the South Library, and the wings of the Oviatt Library. Very successful enhancements to our "domes" were made to improve working conditions for our staff.

This fall, classrooms and offices in the Engineering Building, the Kinesiology Building, Jerome Richfield Hall and Sierra Tower will be opened again. While the demolition and removal of debris has resulted in some increase in truck traffic through the campus, we are initiating every measure we can to minimize noise, traffic and inconvenience. All hauling activity complies with state and city safety codes and appropriate safety measures and precautions are being met. We are grateful to our neighbors and the campus community for your continued patience and support.

This is a critical time in our final push to rebuild the campus and create facilities which reflect the program changes and plans we have worked so hard to establish in our post-earthquake recovery:

  • a Student Success Center located in the old administration building which brings together outreach and recruitment activities, academic support and retention services, and student financial aid and business services.
  • a campus technology center which provides not only an infrastructure and coordinated networking capability but adequately supports, in equipment and maintenance, a 24-hour access program for students, faculty and staff.
  • an administrative center which pulls together our executive functions in academic affairs, student affairs, administrative affairs and university relations.

We have established two telephone lines with recorded information, which we invite you to use and refer to others making inquiries about the construction activity. They are:

  • Construction Information Line: 818-677-5978
  • Construction Questions and Comments Line: 818-677-5979

We will continue to keep you informed of our progress and cannot express adequately the appreciation we feel for your patience during this continuing period of recovery.


On Sunday, September 28, 1997, students, faculty and staff of Cal State Northridge will once again join with over 25,000 people in the 13th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles to demonstrate our commitment to community service and the fight against AIDS. AIDS Walk Los Angeles has become both an annual tradition in Los Angeles and a model for similar walks in cities throughout the United States and Europe. The walk, 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles long, is part of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), an organization that provides support services, without charge, to men, women and children with HIV and AIDS.

Last year, the Cal State Northridge contingent was 650 walkers strong. Of the $3.4 million dollars raised by the event last year, Northridge contributed $18,670. This year we hope to increase our participation numbers and fund raising efforts by inviting members of the community to join us in the march. Incentives and prizes will be awarded to the top ten fund raisers for the event. As we did last year, the university will sponsor "shirt" days the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the event so that participants can avoid the long lines at the event locations by bringing their pledges and picking up their walking shirt at the USU. To register for this year's walk or obtain more information about participating in this event you can contact our campus coordinator for the event, Ms. Amy Reichbach, at 818-677-3683.

I hope you will join me and other members of the Cal State Northridge team as we share breakfast and board the buses in Parking Lot C on Sunday, September 28th. The AIDS Walk begins between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. at the Paramount Pictures lot, 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Your participation will serve as an inspiring reminder of our ability to come together to pursue an important goal for the university and our larger community.


As in the past, frequent and informative communications will be my highest priority for engaging our community in the business of the university. I hope to attend as many campus events as possible this fall, and I encourage you to do the same. I will continue to use From the President's Desk as a means of sharing my thoughts about significant university issues and continue to schedule campus forums each semester so that everyone has the opportunity to share his or her views and concerns with me directly.

I hope to see each of you at the Students' Welcome Back Picnic, to be held on August 27th in the Sierra Quad, at both 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. My best wishes for a productive and rewarding school year.

Blenda J. Wilson

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