President's Office

From the President's Desk September 29 1998

Binge Drinking Awareness Campaign

A new public awareness campaign, spearheaded by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULG), has been launched to increase awareness of the dangers of high-risk and binge drinking among young people. In addition to the 113 member institutions of NASULG and the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities, the Chancellor and the CSU campuses, including California State University, Northridge, have joined the campaign by running advertisements in major newspapers and raising awareness on college campuses.

The campaign cites a recent study released by Harvard University¹s School of Public Health that found 43 percent of college students were identified as binge drinkers, meaning they consumed five or more beers or drinks (four for women) at least once in the two weeks before they were interviewed for the study. Although local research suggests that the binge drinking rate at Cal State Northridge falls below this rate (21 percent, partly due to the higher average age of our students), these statistics are nevertheless alarming to college and university presidents throughout the country.

The dangers posed by binge drinking are well documented. It often leads to other high-risk behaviors and negative consequences, such as drinking and driving, automobile and other accidents, and date and acquaintance rape. Binge drinkers are more likely to be robbed, assaulted and to be the perpetrators of acts of violence. (More than 50 percent of all violent acts are committed by persons under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.)

Research suggests that those who binge drink also are more likely to develop more serious drinking problems than those who do not. Alcohol abuse continues to be a very serious problem in the U.S. and is a major medical problem that can lead to other chronic illnesses and death. Millions of productive work hours are lost each year and almost all of us can point to the negative impact that alcohol abuse has on families and family relationships.

Raising awareness about the risks of alcohol abuse will help students and other young people make informed and responsible decisions about their drinking behaviors. Cal State Northridge for many years has been committed to dealing with this issue and received several U.S. Department of Education grants to assist in these efforts and to develop model programs. These efforts include:

  • A campus/community coalition that meets monthly to develop and coordinate strategies for preventing substance abuse and violence.
  • Two student groups that provide peer-to-peer programming to raise consciousness and provide important information to fellow students about substance abuse issues:
    • ALERT (Alcohol and Other Drugs, Learning, Education, Research and Training), a student group that offers campuswide programs and programming about substance abuse and is housed at the Student Health Center; and
    • SAMs (Student Athlete Mentors), which provides programming and mentoring about alcohol issues for student athletes and is a component of a larger program that is being developed in the Athletic Department, in conjunction with an NCAA grant that was awarded to the campus earlier this year.

In addition, University Counseling Services (UCS) provides individual and group counseling services for students with substance abuse problems. UCS is located in the new Student Services Building, Room 520, and appointments can be made by calling ext. 2366. The Student Health Center provides space for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at noon each day during the academic year (for more details call ext. 3690).

Although we are fortunate to have very effective resources on campus, I ask all university faculty, staff and students to make a personal effort to help reverse the rising trend of student binge drinking. We must seek out opportunities to discuss with students alcohol abuse, its causes and effects, and share our personal knowledge and first-hand experiences with alcohol abuse. And we must continually generate and implement ideas to address this issue.

To learn more about the university¹s programs, or to share ideas about how we can address this issue on our campus, please contact Dr. Robert Kemmerling, Director of University Counseling Services, at ext. 2364, or e-mail him at

Graduate Student Wins Scholarship to Beijing Film Academy

Mr. Angus McNelis, a graduate student in the Department of Radio-TV-Film, has been awarded a 1999 Chinese Government Scholarship and will attend the prestigious Beijing Film Academy as a senior visiting scholar in their director¹s program. The Beijing Film Academy has produced many of China¹s most internationally renowned filmmakers.

Congratulations to Mr. McNelis for becoming the first Cal State Northridge student to receive this award, which is funded by the China Scholarship Council of China¹s Ministry of Education. Mr. McNelis was selected because of his strong academic background, his interest in Chinese culture, and his proficiency in the Chinese language. The award also underscores Cal State Northridge¹s long history of educational partnership with China. Mr. McNelis is looking forward to gaining an insight into the evolution of Chinese cinema, and the potential for working in collaboration with other filmmakers.

My thanks, too, to the faculty and staff who helped Mr. McNelis receive this grant, including Dr. Zhixen Su, Director of the China Institute, and the institute¹s executive committee members; Dr. Mack Johnson, Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies, Research and International Programs; Dr. Judith Marlane, Chair of the Department of Radio-TV-Film; and Mr. John Charles, Assistant Director of International Programs. Campus officials worked with E Xuewen, Education Consul from the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, on the effort.

Presentation Before CSU Board of Trustees

On Sept. 13, our Department of Geography made a formal presentation before the California State University Board of Trustees about the notable work being done by faculty, staff and students in the department in the areas of teaching, research and scholarship. The department was invited as part of a new series of presentations before the trustees that showcase the accomplishments of various programs within the CSU system.

The invitation acknowledged the Department of Geography¹s reputation for high quality teaching and research, with special expertise in cartography, ethnic geography and regional studies. Many graduates of the program go on to successful careers in environmental analysis and management, urban planning and conservation, map design and production, geographic information systems, international business, tourism and teaching. The department presented a video produced especially for this presentation and responded to questions and comments afterward. The trustees were highly impressed by the department¹s work and presentation. The faculty who participated in the presentation included Dr. Jim Allen, Dr. William Bowen, Dr. Eugene Turner, and Department Chair I-Shou Wang.

My thanks and congratulations to all of the faculty, staff and students of the department for this recognition, and particularly to those who took part in the video and the presentation. Special thanks to Mr. John Chandler, University Relations, and Mr. Tom Poehlmann, Instructional Technology, for helping to produce the video. They have established a high standard for future department presentations to the trustees.

New Charter Middle School

On Sept. 7, the Community Charter Middle School, the first start-up charter middle school in the San Fernando Valley, held its opening day of classes at Cal State Northridge in the Education Building. Our campus is hosting the new school until construction of its permanent location in the city of San Fernando is completed. The school has an enrollment of about 100 sixth graders and was founded by a CSUN graduate, Ms. Jackie Elliot, who is also the school¹s director.

We are proud to welcome the students and their teachers to their temporary home. Many of our own faculty have been involved in the start-up and, while its stay on campus will be brief, we look forward to strengthening our partnership with the school in the coming years.

Superintendent Delaine Eastin Visits Campus

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin was on campus recently to tour programs in the College of Education. She met with our new Dean of Education, Dr. Philip Rusche, and the chairs of the Departments of Elementary, Secondary and Special Education to talk about Cal State Northridge¹s teacher preparation programs. A demonstration of the ³Classroom of the Future² left her greatly impressed with our use of advanced technology - and with the funding challenges posed by bringing such technology to the state¹s public schools.

Superintendent Eastin also toured the Community Charter Middle School. She visited with the school¹s sixth graders in the college¹s computer lab.

A presentation by Dr. Ellen Schneiderman on the Deaf Education Program concluded Ms. Eastin¹s visit to our campus. The superintendent noted that she first became aware of problems of deaf and hard-of-hearing students when she was a member of the state legislature. The day before her visit to CSUN, the California Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Education Advisory Task Force, a body she created, issued its report recommending ways that would significantly reform deaf and hard-of-hearing education in California. Eastin noted the university¹s national reputation in deaf education and offered the assistance of her office in expanding our efforts to serve this special population of students.

Address by Mr. Arun Gandhi

As a reminder, please note that Mr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of peace activist and spiritual leader Mohandas Gandhi, will deliver a talk titled ³Understand Race, Overcome Prejudice² on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 12:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. That same evening at 7:30 p.m., Mr. Gandhi will lead the community in a dialogue on ³Nonviolence or Nonexistence: Options for the 21st Century.²

There is no charge for admittance, but because of the size of the audience anticipated, tickets are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis through the Ticket Office in the University Student Union. Overflow seating will be also available in the Northridge Center of the University Student Union.

Mr. Gandhi¹s appearance will be followed by a community summit hosted by the university on Thursday, Oct. 21, in the USU Grand Salon, on ³Building Community for the New Millennium.² Dr. Matthew Cahn, Director of the Center for Southern California Studies, will gather leaders of community organizations, businesses, non-profit and governmental agencies, and elected officials to discuss and plan effective ways to bring together the diverse communities of Los Angeles, including the San Fernando Valley, to improve our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. If you wish to attend this event, or need additional information, please contact Mr. Shervin Boloorian, Project Coordinator for the Center for Southern California Studies, at 818-677-6518. Priority will be given to participants who RSVP by Oct. 8.

Recognition for Vice President James Sullivan

I am pleased to announce that Dr. James Sullivan, Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance, was awarded the Distinguished Business Officer Award by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) at the organization¹s annual meeting in San Antonio, TX. The award is NACUBO¹s highest honor and given in recognition for lifetime service and dedication as higher education business officers.

The award is the highest one can receive as a university business officer and it underscores how fortunate we are to have Dr. Sullivan at the university. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Sullivan for this well deserved tribute from his colleagues and peers.

NCOD Teleclass

On Thursday, Sept. 30, CSUN¹s National Center on Deafness (NCOD) is presenting a live national ³teleclass² on improving higher education opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The two-hour event originating from the studio in the Oviatt Library will be the university¹s largest satellite broadcast ever, reaching about 140 sites in 49 different states, including other universities, community colleges, school districts and other institutions.

The presentation is titled ³Diverse Students, Diverse Stories: Perspectives on Postsecondary Access Issues from Students who are Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.² Ms. Lauren Teruel, a deaf CSUN student-moderator, and a panel of deaf and hard-of-hearing college students from across the country will share their insights and field questions from viewers. The class will give teachers, service providers and others the perspective of deaf and hard-of-hearing students on being mainstreamed in college settings.

University faculty, staff and students are invited to view the class from 12 noon to 2 p.m. in the library¹s Room 1 on the Garden Level. The teleclass is a production of the NCOD¹s Western Region Outreach Center & Consortia. The presentation not only highlights the growing technological capacity of the university, but also spotlights the breadth and reach of the achievements in the National Center on Deafness, one of the campus¹ truly special programs. NCOD provides services to about 250 deaf and hard-of-hearing students at CSUN, giving the campus the largest such mainstream university population in the western United States. For more information on the teleclass, contact Ms. Terri Goldstein at NCOD at 818-677-2537.

Louanne Kennedy
Interim President