President's Office

From the President's Desk July 1 1998

CETI Negotiations Discontinued

As you may have read in the newspapers, the California State University has discontinued its negotiations with GTE for the proposed California Educational Technology Initiative (CETI). In announcing the end of discussions with GTE, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said, "We are disappointed that after careful risk analysis, CSU and GTE mutually concluded that the financial plan of the proposed partnership could not meet the needs of all of the partners involved. GTE has negotiated in good faith, and I applaud the way the team has comported itself throughout this process. The CSU now will review all its options. No university can maintain its academic quality and remain competitive if it is not on the cutting edge of technology. The CSU will spend the next several weeks assessing potential new funding sources and developing new approaches with current and new industry participants."

Mr. Thomas W. Muldoon, president of GTE Government Systems, the business unit that has been leading the GTE negotiations with the CSU, said, "We too regret that we have been unable to arrive at a financial plan that is both responsive to the CSU and responsible to our shareholders. GTE desires to continue to support the CSU in its efforts to meet its technology requirements, albeit via means other than the CETI partnership."

You will recall that, from the very beginning of the CETI negotiations, the CSU pledged that the partnership would have to satisfy all of the University's needs and criteria if a deal were to be made. While this outcome is disappointing, the decision the Chancellor has made is consistent with that pledge.

From the vantage point of my own personal involvement with the Technology Steering Committee and the Commission on Learning Resources and Instructional Technology (CLRIT), I believe this process will prove to be extremely valuable to the CSU in the long run. We are much, much clearer about the status and importance of information technology on the campuses. We now know the needs of our students, faculty and staff, the amount of funding required, and the goals we must pursue to maintain our academic quality and vitality in an information age. We also came together as a campus, recognizing the interdependence of our university system and the bargaining power we have as a system to leverage our assets in future approaches with possible partners.

CETI was an example of the kind of bold and innovative thinking we should expect from the CSU. The negotiating team that represented the University during these complex negotiations was first-class and deserves our commendation and gratitude. I also want to thank all the members of the Cal State Northridge community who participated in the many discussions about the CETI proposals. As we pursue other ways to fund the technology infrastructure for the CSU and CSUN, we will keep you informed. I trust that we will continue to have the benefit of your good advice and counsel.

Teacher Credential Pilot Program

In response to the state's urgent need to provide education and credentialing to the overwhelming number of emergency teachers in our schools, Chancellor Reed has been successful in receiving state support for a pilot program with the British Open University to develop a CSU distance learning teacher preparation program. This pilot program seeks to expand access and provide a quality program for emergency teachers who are working full time. Many of you may be familiar with the great success the British Open University has had in training teachers in England. A partnership with the British Open University will enable us to benefit from their experience and expertise.

State funding for the pilot program was achieved during the recent negotiations about possible uses of the large state budget surplus. It confirms the strong state support for the role of the CSU as the major teacher preparation institution in California. The immediate tasks for the CSU campuses that choose to participate in this pilot program will be to evaluate the fit of the open university approach to our needs and to adapt the British program for a California setting.

British Open University representatives will be meeting with the Presidents, Academic Vice Presidents and members of CLRIT toward the end of July. In addition, the Chancellor's Office will be holding a meeting on July 8 to provide information that campuses can consider in determining the nature and extent of their involvement in the credential program. I have asked Dr. Joyce Feucht-Haviar and Dr. Cynthia Desrochers to attend on behalf of Cal State Northridge so that we can determine what this opportunity might mean for our campus. Some Cal State Northridge faculty have already participated in CredentialNet and are therefore knowledgeable about the kind of planning, distance learning capability and curriculum development this partnership will involve. Depending upon how extensively we wish to participate, this effort could require broad faculty involvement in planning, implementation and assessment, and we will probably need to be prepared to make some decisions quite quickly.

We will have an opportunity to share available information about the British Open University model with the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate in July and will consult with them about next steps for Cal State Northridge. We will update you as we receive more specific information.

Budget Update

The University Budget Advisory Board's last meeting of the academic year was held June 25. We reviewed preliminary budget allocations for next year, meeting our self-imposed deadline to complete the budget process by the end of June. Thanks to the state's budget surplus and good representation of the CSU by Chancellor Reed and Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Richard P. West, we are anticipating that we will be able to provide significant funding - though not everything that was requested! - for all of our budget priorities. A Budget Update, summarizing next year's budget allocations, will be sent to you as soon as the state budget is finalized. In the meantime, however, preliminary budget allocations will be provided to each division so that planning and searches can be started this summer.

While acknowledging this as very good news, please keep in mind that a significant percentage of next year's budget increase is in one-time augmentation funding rather than continuing funding. This means that we must continue to improve our budgeting processes and information systems, maintain a disciplined approach to budget planning for 1999-2000 and hope that the state's economy will continue to flourish.

I want to thank the Provost and each of the Vice Presidents for conducting broadly participatory divisional budget discussions focused on our strategic priorities. Special thanks to Director of Budget Planning and Management Ron Clouse, the members of the University Budget Advisory Board, and to all faculty and staff who helped us reach consensus on the major budget issues. This was a year of good progress and fidelity to the mission and values we share.

North Campus - Biotech Park

On June 17, the Los Angeles City Council approved the Joint Powers Agreement between Cal State Northridge and the City of Los Angeles which will allow the development of a biotech park on our North Campus. The development is a partnership between the University and MiniMed Inc., headed by Mr. Alfred Mann, one of Los Angeles' leading businessmen and philanthropists.

In addition to providing strong academic ties with several of our colleges, the biotech park will be a significant economic asset for the San Fernando Valley. And it will create an aesthetically pleasing, campus-like environment on the northernmost face of the campus. It is, as many have stated, a win-win project for the University and the community, and has been supported enthusiastically by all of the important community, commercial and economic development organizations in the Valley. Our team of Vice President for Administration and Finance Art Elbert, North Campus Consultant Frank Wein, Director of Facilities Planning Tom Tindall, and University Counsel for Administration and Finance Steven Hoover, on behalf of the North Campus/University Park Development Corp. Board, has done terrific work. We are also grateful to Mayor Richard Riordan, Councilman Hal Bernson, the directors of city agencies, and Mr. Mann's staff, whose expertise and cooperation made this achievement possible.

HOLD THE DATE! Please plan on attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the biotech park on Thursday, July 30, at 8 a.m. on Devonshire Street between Zelzah and Lindley Avenues. All members of the University community are cordially invited to celebrate this significant event with Mr. Mann, Mayor Riordan, Councilman Bernson, and members of our community.

Blenda J. Wilson

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