President's Office

From the President's Desk July 14 1997

Presidential Scholars

The first class of 16 Northridge Presidential Scholars will enter the University this fall. Initiated by Vice President for Student Affairs Ronald Kopita, the Northridge Presidential Scholars Program offers full scholarships to students who meet rigorous admission requirements, including a combined SAT score in the range of 1,300 and a ranking in the top 5 percent of their high school class. Students who are extraordinarily talented in specific fields and rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class are also eligible for the program.

The scholarships are renewable for up to four years. As part of the program, scholars participate in a 75-hours-per-semester mentorship, working closely with faculty members, administrators or community leaders on educationally related projects. They also attend intellectual and cultural events on and off campus.

From a pre-screened pool of 46 gifted applicants, a selection committee of prominent community leaders narrowed the field of finalists to students from 27 different high schools who exhibited excellence in academic achievement, high motivation and unusual talent. Students and parents visited the campus earlier this summer to meet department faculty and to explore and to define their academic interests. The final class of 16 students is representative of the diversity of the Cal State Northridge student population.

We are confident that these Presidential Scholars, along with the University's Honors Program, exemplify Cal State Northridge's continuing commitment to academic excellence and to the value-added quality of personal relationships among faculty, mentors and students.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation is extended to the members of the Selection Committee for the Presidential Scholars:

Ms.Virginia Barrett
Ms. Myrtle Whitsett Harris
Ms. Catherine Mullholland
Ms. Rosa Chacon
Ms. Miriam Jaffee
Ms. Joy Picus
Mr. Lawrence Elins
Mr. Richard Katz
Ms. Roberta Weintraub
Mr. David Fleming

We also want to thank Mr. Tom Piernik, Director of Student Development and International Programs, members of his staff and the pre-selection committee, which consisted of University staff, for their wonderful work in launching this program:

Dr. John ClendenningDr. Ronald KopitaDr. Pat Nichelson
Dr. Sheila Grant-ThompsonProf. Joe LewisMr. Tom Piernik
Dr. William JenningsMs. Ludim de ManzanoMs. Lili Vidal
Dr. Paul Klinedinst  

We look forward to welcoming the Presidential Scholars to the University community this fall.

North Campus Task Force

We have 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 MarketCenter.

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; and retail uses on a smaller scale than the original proposal for the MarketCenter. Plans also propose generous landscaped buffers and pedestrian walkways to connect the various facilities and complement the surrounding residential areas.

The task force included members of local homeowners associations, University staff, students and faculty, and representatives from the many business and civic groups that serve the San Fernando Valley, including the United Chambers of Commerce, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), and the Valley Economic Development Council. The task force met over a two-month period 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.

I want to thank Mr. Frank Wein, who served as staff to the task force; the task force members, who generously gave of their time and best thinking to assist in this important University effort; and particularly Ross Hopkins, Tony Pisano and Bill Allen, who helped craft the final task force report.

The report has been submitted to Councilman Hal Bernson and his North Campus Citizens' Advisory Committee, and we expect to receive the Councilman's guidance about the MarketCenter project very shortly. Next steps include having the developer prepare a revised plan, consistent with the task force recommendations and Councilman Bernson's guidance. Following that, the University will convene an open meeting where neighbors and interested community members can review the alterations that have been proposed and discuss their views on the project. The North Campus Development Corporation will take action on the revised plan following the community meeting and, if approved, the plan will be presented to the CSU Board of Trustees in September. This presentation was originally scheduled for May but was postponed so that the Corporation would have the benefit of these recommendations from the task force.

The task force process represents a successful model of University-community collaboration. Everyone involved made a good faith effort to understand the multiple, complex perspectives of the developer, the University and the community. The resulting compromise advances 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. We will continue to seek the advice of these individuals and groups in the future development of the North Campus and in other matters related to University facilities and community economic development.

Community Liaison

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Judy Nutter as the University's Community Liaison. Her major responsibilities will be to expand and improve communications and relations with the University's neighbors and surrounding communities. It has become very clear that the University is in need of a more robust and engaged community presence both to repair recent lapses in consultation and to provide a direct link for the community regarding University affairs.

This appointment reflects the advice of the University's Community Advisory Board; we are pleased to acknowledge their supportive counsel and to be able to implement their suggestion with a superbly qualified individual. Ms. Nutter, who works in the University's Office of Governmental and Community Relations, has worked previously for City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter and State Assemblywoman Barbara Friedman on constituent relations, community outreach, and coordination of public participation.

Ms. Nutter will serve as the University's representative on local chambers of commerce, citizens' advisory councils, and other such organizations, and participate in their meetings and activities on a regular basis. She will also be responsible for apprising these organizations of University activities and initiatives and communicating the community's interests, concerns and advice to the University.

I am confident that Ms. Nutter and Director of Governmental and Community Relations Dorena Knepper, to whom she reports, will, with the guidance of the University's Community Advisory Board, develop a much more comprehensive community relations program and help connect the resources of the University to the needs, interests and aspirations of the community.

Outsourcing the University Bookstore

In response to decreasing bookstore profits during the past several years, the University Corporation initiated a six-month investigation into whether outsourcing the University Bookstore would benefit students, faculty, Corporation employees, and the University community.

Three Corporation task forces were formed to evaluate proposals from three vendors and study the impact of outsourcing on Corporation employees, quality of operations and revenues to the University. The task forces' membership included faculty, students, Corporation staff, and University administrators.

The Corporation Board of Directors will consider authorizing a contract with Follett College Stores, the largest college bookstore operator in the nation, at its next meeting. Prior to that meeting, Corporation management and directors are consulting Associated Students, bookstore employees, the executive committees of the University Foundation and the Alumni Association, the executive committees of the Faculty Senate and the Council of Chairs, the Educational Resources Committee, and the University's Community Advisory Board. The proposed contract, which the Corporation would hope to have take effect in the fall, will provide a number of benefits to students, faculty and the University community which are outlined in the attached flyer.

The proposal to outsource bookstore operations is, like the North Campus MarketCenter proposal, another way for the University to achieve a stable source of revenue to supplement state general funding. Past Corporation funding has endowed student projects and faculty research, supported intercollegiate athletics, and provided affordable faculty and staff housing. The proposed contract with Follett College Stores would provide estimated annual revenues of $1 million to $1.2 million next year, compared to a projected surplus for 1996-97 of $343,697 for the self-managed bookstore.

Vice President for University Relations

After months of committed work by an excellent search and screen committee, I regret to announce that we were not able to select a Vice President for University Relations. Because this position is important to the overall leadership of the University and to our development, government and community relations efforts, the search committee and I have agreed to extend the search with the expectation that we can conclude it in the fall.

We are grateful to Dean Bill Flores, chair of the search committee, and to the committee members: Ms. Faye Ainsworth, Dr. Tom Bader, Mr. Vladimir Cerna, Dr. Lynne Cook, Ms. Virginia Elwood, Mr. Tony Kurtz, Professor Jerry Luedders, and Mr. Gerard Mooney and the executive search firm MacNaughton Associates for their leadership of this process.

Since this search is governed by Section 600 of the Administrative Manual, we will consult the appointing authorities for the committee membership to determine if any changes are required in the composition of the extended search committee. We will keep you advised of their progress and hope that you will participate in the on-campus interviews once they are scheduled.

Unified Information Access System (UIAS)

As yet another example of the California State University's national leadership role in the use of technology for learning and teaching, we have been advised that students, faculty and staff of the CSU will soon have access to all of the 22 libraries in the system anytime, anyplace, from their own computers. The CSU has signed a contract with Ameritech Library Services to link campus libraries through shared databases and the Internet.

The Unified Information Access System (UIAS) is a comprehensive, user-friendly program that will provide students, faculty and staff an electronic gateway to vast amounts of research information and that will greatly expand access to the CSU's library resources and other major information repositories throughout the system's campuses and distributed learning sites. Through the new system, students and faculty will be able to read and download bibliographic indices; text, image, video, and multimedia materials; Internet-based materials; and even self-paced instruction. CSU librarians will be better able to help students because they too can collect and view resources online and direct students to source materials from a broader array of choices than previously possible.

Initial funding for UIAS comes from the systemwide technology effort through the Commission on Learning Resources and Instructional Technology (CLIRIT). The CSU projects that the cost of developing and implementing UIAS over its first two years will be almost $2 million to cover the hardware (gateway servers) and supporting software each campus needs. This funding will also support the creation and maintenance of a collective catalog of CSU library holdings, project management and equipment maintenance. The UIAS system will be implemented over the next 17 months, and students and faculty should have access to the shared databases by January 1999.

Blenda J. Wilson


Who Will Benefit from Contract Management of the University Bookstore...?

In response to decreasing bookstore profits during the past several years, The University Corporation initiated a six-month investigation into whether outsourcing the University Bookstore would benefit students, faculty, Corporation employees and the university community.

Around the country, about one-fourth of all college bookstores are managed by contract operators, including Cal State campuses at Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Stanislaus. According to one national survey in 1997, the vast majority of colleges and universities that engaged contract managers for their bookstores planned to continue those arrangements.

Thus three Corporation task forces were formed at Cal State Northridge to evaluate proposals from three vendors and study the impact of outsourcing on Corporation employees, quality of operations and increased revenues to the University. The task forces' members included faculty, students, Corporation staff and University administrators.

Based on their findings, the Corporation's Board of Directors authorized staff to pursue a contract with Follett College Stores, the largest college bookstore operator in the nation. The highlights of the proposed contract, which the Corporation would hope to have take effect in the fall, are outlined below.

Students and Faculty will...

  • have access to an expanded list of 44,000 bookstore titles, compared to about 28,000 now, with the possibility to later expand to as many as 75,000 titles.
  • be able to utilize a new virtual bookstore on the Internet, with sophisticated ordering and tracking systems.
  • benefit from new systems enabling faculty members to place their textbook adoptions on-line, and guaranteeing rapid delivery of books for late orders and reorders.
  • be assured of expanded staffing and hours of operation during peak periods, and the maintenance of current bookstore schedules otherwise.

Students also will ...

  •  save money because the profit margin on textbooks will be reduced from the current 27% to 25%.
  • save money on used textbooks because of a greater supply. The on-line bookstore will give students access to the largest selection of used textbooks in the nation.
  • benefit from special promotions supporting student life activities, including homecoming and graduation.
  • continue to participate in the reduced-price North Campus parking incentive program approved last spring.

Corporation Employees will...

  •  be assured of continued employment for one year, except if dismissed for cause, and retention of current salary levels with the contract company.*
  • have their Corporation years-of-service standings for vacation and sick leave, tuition reimbursement and short- and long-term disability recognized by the contract company.**
  • be protected by a 30-day notice provision, a severance package comparable to the Corporation's and company-provided outplacement services for the first two years of the contract.**
  • have the first year of health and dental coverage subsidized by the Corporation to match current employer contributions.**
  • receive some company-provided benefits that are more generous than those of the Corporation.
  • benefit from an extensive $2 million a year company-wide training program that enhances career advancement.

*=Full-time and part-time employees
**=full-time only

The University Corporation will...

  • dramatically increase funding allocations to University activities. The Corporation expects to have $1 million to $1.2 million in bookstore profits available in 1997-98, triple this year's result, based on getting 11% to 12% of gross revenues. Past Corporation funding has endowed student projects and faculty research, supported athletics and affordable housing for faculty and staff.
  • fund a one-time physical renovation of the bookstore, with Follett to purchase the inventory of the existing facility.
  • be protected against sudden termination of services by a five-year contract with a 90-day notice requirement.
  • receive the varied benefits of association with the largest operator of college bookstores in the nation.

More about Follett College Stores, the proposed contract operator...

The vendor is part of the River Grove, Illinois-based Follett Corp., a privately-held company that currently operates 527 college bookstores across the country. Follett is the oldest and largest contract management company in the industry, serving more than 3 million students and 250,000 faculty members.

Locally, Follett operates the bookstores at Cal State Dominguez Hills, the College of the Canyons, Cal Lutheran, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine University.

Under the proposed contract, Follett would close its current Northridge Textbook Exchange (NTX) store near the campus by 1998. Two bookstore units Follett would not oversee would be the copying service, which is planned to remain a Corporation operation for now, and the NetWorks computer store, which would be discontinued. Software titles, however, would remain available through the general bookstore.

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President Blenda J. Wilson