2011 Convocation Speech
Welcome back to campus and a new academic year. This is the 15th time that I’ve offered convocation remarks, and once again, the room is full, with nearly a thousand in the audience.
With technology, there are now many others watching over the Internet in groups, as at our Palm Desert Campus and down the hall in the student union theater, and individually from offices and homes. I applaud our office staff for once again being successful in hiding the fact that I’d be the speaker.
As we edge toward our 50th anniversary, despite the financial storm inflicted by ongoing budget cuts, I’ve never been more proud of what CSUSB faculty and staff contribute to the lives of our students and the wholesome way you interact with one another.
In the face of higher tuition and fees, higher student faculty ratios and greater staff responsibilities than ever, CSUSB continues to offer the best possible education at increasingly successful levels. In fact, compared with many other higher education institutions, we’ve been able to move, during periods of enormous financial stress, with a minimum of acrimony. I’m proud to be your colleague, and it’s a point I’ll return to later in my comments.
As at previous convocations, I’ll introduce individuals in various leadership roles.
We’ll recall colleagues who died last year. Then I’ll recognize those who earned degrees, announce staff award winners and describe their accomplishments.
I’ll discuss our current fiscal situation as well as enrolments, and outline our priorities. We’ll show this year’s convocation video, which I also employ in off-campus talks. Following the video, I’ll offer some extended, concluding remarks.
Please join your colleagues, Marilyn and me later for the all-university reception that starts at 4:30 and lasts till 7:00 in the Obershaw dining room of the commons.
These past few years have been budgetary killing fields. And there may be another mid-year firestorm on the horizon.
So I welcome your ongoing suggestions by e-mail; at my various open meetings twice each quarter with faculty, staff and students; at the reception later today; or just give me a phone call.
In terms of budgets and their consequences, I’m pleased that despite cuts, to this time lay-offs of permanent personnel have been limited to a single bargaining unit that chose layoffs over furloughs two years ago. This reflects an abiding commitment to our personnel, their careers and their livelihoods by vice presidents, deans and department heads.
And while we won’t know for certain until 3 weeks into the quarter at census, the enrolment team, led by provost Bodman and associate vice president Rosas, appears to have once again navigated the turbulent waters, rules and vagaries associated with meeting our enrollment targets.
In fact, our admissions and financial aid staff deserve applause for having processed record numbers of applications by freshmen, transfer and international students; and we’ll have a record freshman class this fall.
Before I provide some comments on our budget, I want to share a tale of two quite obese men who wanted to climb with their gear into a small charter plane to go camping in the mountains. The pilot said the weight would be too great, but they argued – accurately – that he had let them fly last year. The pilot reluctantly agreed, the plane took off and soon crashed into a mountainside. The first would-be camper to crawl out asked, “Where do you think we are?” The second said, “I think we’re pretty close to where we crashed last year.”
Well, California is crashing, and there doesn’t appear to be any learning taking place. No longer is there a public agenda aligning higher education and the state’s needs for access, affordability and quality.
The original California Master Plan focused on making higher education affordable and available to all students, radical ideas in 1960. This was pre-Proposition 13, pre-diversity of enrollments, and pre three-strike rules and determinant sentences, which increased the number of prisoners from 25,000 in 1980 to 165,000 in 2010 – each at an average cost of $50,000. As this occurred, the corrections share of the state budget almost quadrupled -- from 3 percent to 11.2% -- while the higher-ed share tumbled by a third, from 10 to 6.6 percent.
The master plan’s iconic status has made change virtually impossible, despite the fact that it’s 50 years old and out of touch with current realities.
So we’re left with this notion of a nearly free education, based on low fees and high state appropriations, despite the fact for years the state has been disinvesting in higher ed.
The Master Plan depends on a growing state economy, and when it’s declined, there’s paralysis. Our state has an unemployment rate over 10 percent – and it’s more than 14 percent in the inland empire.
The CSU has the same general fund budget that it had in 1999, but 70,000 more students. This makes the CSU and our campus, which serves an additional 25 percent students since 1999, among the very most efficient – or, if you wish, underfunded – in the nation.
They say money alone can’t solve a university’s problems. But just this once, I’d like the opportunity to prove that to myself.
The California Master Plan is shredded, not because fees were raised, but because the state has dramatically abdicated its responsibility.
Despite the rarity of having a budget in place by July 1, this year offered two great frustrations. First, the CSU was slashed by $650 million, and second, it looks like there could be another $100 million cut in January. If this added $100 million is triggered, the CSU budget will be the lowest in 14 years, despite having 90,000 more students.
The CSU and higher education are the solutions to the state’s economic woes and to future jobs. With college graduates unemployed at half the rate of high school grads, our state needs more college graduates, not fewer, in order to compete with new york, Massachusetts and Texas, as well as China and other nations. And 97 percent of Californians agree that a college education is vital to “economic development and the state’s quality of life.” It’s simply insane to sacrifice the future by reducing the number of knowledge workers in the state and region.
To partially compensate for the $650 million, or roughly 20 percent cut, trustees approved a 12 percent fee increase for this academic year. That was on top of a 10 percent rise previously authorized. One-third of the funds are set aside for aid for those most in financial need.
University tuition fees are $5,472, with CSUSB mandatory campus fees of $981, resulting in an overall cost of $6,453. This is twice the 2007 rate and quadruple the cost in 1998-99. In 1998-1999, the state paid 74 percent and students 26 percent. By this year, students at CSUSB are actually paying 56 percent of the direct cost of their education.
If the board hadn’t moved, we would have far fewer students and personnel. In fact, if we had frozen fees at the 1998-1999 level, as some have advocated, at CSUSB we’d have nearly $69 million fewer funds, or 40 percent less budget, with consequences for the number of students we could serve, the number of faculty and staff that could be paid, our wage levels and much more.
The increases have been quite unfortunate, especially for the middle class, though CSU remains one of the most affordable universities in the U.S., especially given that one-third of the tuition fees are set aside – a characteristic unique, I believe, to California. What’s really more outrageous is that virtually every state now contributes more to their resident students’ education than does California – and that includes Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and so on.
In sum, by virtue of the general fund cut, our campus had an appropriations reduction of over $18 million, on top of which there was a $3.2 million added deficit due to new mandatory retirement and health expenses plus campus costs. So the total deficit, coming into the year, was $21,473,400.
This amount was offset in part by $10,652,224 derived from increased tuition fees, leaving us a shortfall of $10,821,176.
To treat the deficit, the campus took various near- and long-term steps, which include both revenue increases and cost reductions. I want to thank members of the university budget council for their thoughtful reviews of my recommendations for action. When their views diverged from mine – which hasn’t been often or substantial – I have deferred to their judgment.
On the revenue side, we’ll increase by at least 172 resident FTES, which will generate $751,114.
We’ve worked to boost the number of non-resident students, who pay nearly three times the charges to residents. During this year, we estimated a rise in non-resident enrollment of about 188 FTES, and they pay non-resident tuition and California fees, together equal to $2,870,042 -- and it will be more in years to come, as those in the pipeline increase.
And we were able to secure $4 million in summer session revenue. Finally, we could draw $1 million from utility savings, which branch from very wise, long-term investments in improvements.
Overall, then, that left a start-of-the-year shortfall of $2.2 million. To help protect our core instructional mission, as well as the delivery of other faculty responsibilities, academic affairs was asked to cover only 90 percent of their proportionate share of the $2.2 million.
Since academic affairs funding was nearly 70 percent of the CSUSB budget, that meant that the remaining offices and divisions needed to contribute 120 percent of their proportional budget shares. Division cuts are displayed on the screens.
The budget cuts will come from a variety of sources, including vacant positions, fewer temporary personnel, reduced travel, equipment and other expenditures, as well as savings derived from utilities, Connexxus travel, IT server virtualization, bundled computer purchases, reduced cell phone expenses, and lower administrative costs – targeted at 10 percent over two years.
In addition, you recall the university efficiency-effectiveness committee that I appointed. Chaired by provost emeritus Lou Fernandez, it recommended that development officer reporting lines be centralized, that vacant development positions be quickly filled, and that a new philanthropic foundation be created. All that has been achieved!
Also consistent with the recommendations, to control cost and further improve grants activity, we’ve co-located pre and post grants operations. They both now report to associate provost for research, Jeff Thompson.
We shifted summer sessions to CEL to enhance summer revenue. And to better integrate enrollment management, associate vice president Rosas now reports to the provost for enrollment purposes.
To advance international programs and enrollment, we consolidated the international center and the international institute. The new unit is named the center for international students and programs, and it reports to associate provost Jenny Zorn.
Given their predictable importance in this new century, there has been great stress on China, Korea and a new focus on linkages to India. Our two-year goal will be at least a 20 percent increase in international enrollments.
As I noted, because the state has been too optimistic about tax revenues, it’s possible that the CSU will have its budget reduced by another $100 million in January. If that occurs, our share will be $3.8 million.
We have $10 million in one-time central reserves to cover a mid-year cut in the near-term. However, if the cuts are baseline and continued into fall 2012, then we will need to make other adjustments.
Moreover, unless there’s a surprise addition in mid-year reductions, in late fall I will consider pooling together a small percentage – not more than 20 percent – of one-time reserves across campus and centrally. This fund would support initiatives intended to improve the university’s position into the future, especially given the lack of predictable state support.
The fund would focus especially on opportunities to increase future revenue, reduce future costs, and offer start-up funding for target-of-opportunity programs and initiatives. The decision-making process would involve the university budget council.
Permit me to shift to a discussion of priorities for the year, including enrollment targets.
The most critical near-term priority is protecting against the downside potential for next year. To protect student access, educational quality and the livelihoods of our personnel, we need to be mindful about budgets and continue our long exodus from dependence on unreliable state support
Our priority planning will have a keen focus on revenues, including enrollment management strategies.
We'll closely examine our summer session fee and aid model, and compare it with other CSU’s in order to assure that we're best serving students and generating necessary resources with the approach we've employed.
We'll also continue the recruitment of non-resident students from abroad. We've been remarkably successful this past year, and we need to thank a variety of individuals who've gone far beyond the ordinary, including Jenny Zorn, Rosalie Giacchino-Baker, Paul Amaya, Tatiana Karmanova, Xiwen Zhang, Ron Chen and Vipin Gupta.
This non-resident student initiative will be a vital facet of our budget tactics. This year we will exceed 750 and be on the way to 1,000. These international students do not replace resident students but, instead, because they pay more, we're able to generate funds to further the opportunities of resident students, as well.
I’ve also asked our enrollment management team to seek resident enrollments that will be three percent above target. There are one-time funds available for the added courses required by increases in resident and non-resident students.
Additionally, on the revenue side, I’ve encouraged deans and department heads to consider the development of online programs that would operate through CEL for the military and those outside the region, so that academic units could generate flexible revenue that could help provide funds for added travel, equipment, personnel, and other program enhancements.
We'll also continue to stress efforts to secure extramural funding for research, equipment, service and other projects, which in turn often generate overhead funds that can be employed for travel, program venture capital, and instructionally useful equipment. Our research office has been asked to target a 5 percent increase in new awards.
Finally, on the revenue side, we need to emphasize philanthropy in even more successful ways. Over the past 5 years, there have been more than $60 million in contributions and planned gifts from fundraising.
This past year was spent formulating the mechanisms for improved outcomes by filling vacant development officer positions, creating a separate philanthropic foundation and appointing a board that now has about 90 community members. The steps taken this year will be critical to the success of CSUSB's 50th anniversary fundraising campaign focused on 2015-2016
Planning for the 50th will be a priority, because of its potential for lifting our endowments and funding faculty chairs, scholarships, program enhancements, and much more.
We also need to look closely at becoming as efficient as possible, including moving more quickly toward paperless processes. We’ll also continue to secure administrative savings of 10 percent over the course of two years. A quick review suggests that through combining roles, eliminating positions, and other strategies, more than 5 percent was saved this past year.
In addition to individual roles, we need to concentrate attention on both non-academic and academic administrative structures at the division, college and department levels, as well.
The review for efficiencies and economies needs to extend beyond the campus to inter-campus and community partnerships. Illustrations include Connexxus travel with the UC and our police department serving various riverside and other community colleges with dispatch services.
We’re also sharing the cost and responsibilities of our campus coordinator of emergency management with Chaffey College. It just makes financial sense to look for economizing synergies, so resources can be devoted to our core missions.
And we will continue to squeeze utilities as much as possible for savings, including the heat throw-off from the fuel cell to be installed by spring and the use of newly installed smart building meters to show where there are inefficiencies. Further, we’ll look at possibly adding more solar, most likely on a land farm or in parking lots. Thanks to Tony Simpson, Phil Westbrook and their colleagues for what they've already achieved.
We also need to continue to be a partner with the communities we serve, continuing exceptional contributions through community university partnerships and too many college and department outreach efforts to mention.
While I’m not confident in the short term, we still must make facility development a priority, including exploration of revenue bonds and planning for a new performing arts building and library addition.
Budgetarily, as in other years, we’ll simply play the hand we’re dealt as skillfully as we can. And we’ll continue being transparent, providing opportunities for the flow of information, encouraging advice from all quarters, protecting academic programs without damaging the rest of the campus, raising revenues, spacing cuts to the extent possible over a few years, and focusing on an array of long- and near-term approaches.
I’ll offer updates as the mid-year budget picture unfolds. I’m confident that the character, talent, downhome effort and commitment you’ve shown during this recurring cycle of budget challenges will carry us, as we focus on our priorities of access, quality programs and preserving employee livelihoods and careers.
During the fall quarter, we’ll also consider a student fee referendum proposed by the health center, as and athletics.
If I haven't yet tried your patience yet, let me outline one additional quite major priority, which I call the success initiative, it will branch from a quarterly $54 student fee that we believe will be covered for most students through financial aid. The funding will greatly expand needed academic and student services.
Simply put, most students cannot afford not to graduate from college. It’s a tough job market for everyone, but we know that college grads have an unemployment rate half of that for others. Even more starkly, if you're 18 to 24, and you haven't either secured a post secondary education or remained in school, you have a 40 percent chance of being unemployed, a 30 percent chance of part-time employment, and only a 30 percent likelihood of having a full-time job, which includes dead-end jobs flipping burgers.
We'll continue to stress broad access and work with K-12 on various interventions, including the early assessment program, which allows students to enter directly into CSU credit courses if they pass high school tests as juniors. For those not passing, the tests identify developmental needs in time for remediation to occur in the senior year of high school, thus saving the students time and money.
But access without retention is an empty promise. And retention without learning is even more hollow. A chief goal of retention and learning is graduation. The final goal is placement, whether as a post-grad or in a professional job after graduation.
Let me preface some later comments by saying I’m very, very pleased with progress we’ve seen in recent data analyses on our retention and learning levels. Yet we can do even better, particularly in our graduation and placement rates.
In fact, to better interpret our graduation rates, I’ve asked that we bring attention to understanding student goals upon entry to CSUSB, e.g., whether they intend to transfer to a school with programs that we don’t offer, as well as focus on exit interview information to better determine the cause of student exits prior to graduation, particularly if they leave with good grades.
The success initiative will provide students with added access to valuable technologies in smart classrooms and computer labs, improved wireless access, and support services, including services for military veterans.
Among other key components are intrusive advisement, identification of and interventions with students who are at-risk, including non-resident students, tutorial services, co-curricular programs for student development, career exploration, skills assessment, counseling, and placement programs with the active involvement of alumni. Given the importance of first jobs, we want to effectively launch our students' careers.
Now let's take a look at this year's convocation video.
That was, once again, a wonderful job – thanks to Sid Robinson’s excellent writing, Robert Whiteheads keen eye for photos, Carey Van Loon’s masterful editing, and Cindi Pringle’s velvet voice. And it was all done at the right price.
I’d like to dwell a bit on broad faculty, staff and student achievements.
I’m delighted that CSUSB and its faculty, staff and students are being increasingly recognized for their enormous accomplishments. We didn’t see much of that 10 or 12 years ago.
While I’d be happy to lead the chorus of objections to the methodologies employed in institutional rankings, given our underfunding and mission, it’s quite remarkable that we perform at a level in which the Princeton Review and Forbes rank us among the 25 percent best colleges and universities in the U.S.; and U.S. News and World Report places us in the top tier of the west’s best, despite its emphasis on selectivity.
As the video noted, for the fifth straight year, we’ve been on the President’s community service honor roll and the 2011 list of military friendly schools, which is reserved for the 15 percent of institutions that do the most to embrace veterans.
In fact, CSUSB programs have been recognized nationally and internationally.
Nationally, beyond the rankings that I mentioned, there are countless indicators, including the fact that every program eligible for accreditation is accredited. And many graduate programs are quite selective, with exceptional national reputations, ranging in just one college from national security studies to industrial psychology to social work. And that college’s criminal justice program was ranked number 3 for books per faculty.
Furthermore, our student operated radio station was selected by MTV as the best Internet station in the U.S. it’s also one of only 50 college stations carried by iTunes. And CSUSB is home to one of my favorite NPR programs, Isla Earth, which is heard over all NPR stations in the U.S., with more than 5 million estimated weekly listeners.
And our athletic teams also excel – with women’s volleyball (now undefeated and ranked # 3 in the nation) and men’s basketball regularly among the nation’s Division II top ten.
Internationally, as illustrations, we’re the new headquarters for Phi Beta Delta, the international honor society. And European CEO Magazine ranked our College of Business and Public Administration as one the 18 most innovative in the world – along with only 3 other U.S. universities – SUNY-Albany, George Washington and Notre Dame. In addition, the French Military Academy will join west point in a partnership with CSUSB in studying battlefield communications.
Further, our enrollments have become so diverse this year we’ll have more than 750 international students from 45 different nations.
And in a cross between national and international, the College of Education’s Latino Education Advocacy Days program has won both national acclaim and was observed in various other nations.
Congratulations to personnel across each division, and especially to those in the college of natural sciences, for completion of the nursing skills lab, the water conservation garden, and soon-to-be opened Murillo Family Astronomy Observatory. Further, the Student Health and Psychological Counseling Center addition was finished last fall.
These facilities are on top of more than $350 million in other construction and major renovations undertaken in the past dozen or so years.
The more than one and one-half million additional square feet of new facilities includes, among others, the Education, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Chemical Sciences buildings, four buildings at our Palm Desert Campus, the enlarged student union, the 37,000-square-foot recreation and fitness center, and three new apartment complexes, which allow us to house 1,500 students on campus.
And by next spring, we’ll have installed the awaited fuel cell, added to existing solar collectors.
Because of the outstanding work of our facilities personnel, the National Association of Energy Engineers in 2010 gave its award for energy project of the year to CSUSB. And the year before, we received the American Association of Physical Plant Managers’ national award for excellence in facilities management – an award given the prior year to the Smithsonian and the University of Michigan.
I want to also highlight our faculty and support staff in the grants and contracts office and office of post grant services for another excellent year of success – with more than $32 million secured in new grants and contracts. The effort was led by the College of Natural Sciences, with 37 percent of faculty securing grants, but with other colleges exceeding prior years as well, with a full 20 percent of faculty receiving grants.
Our new award total is not only five times greater than a dozen years ago, for the past six years or more, our grants and contracts totals have exceeded all but about five larger CSU campuses, each typically with more engineering and graduate science programs.
I like the scene in which a child gets his baseball bat and tosses a ball into the air. On 10 occasions, as the ball drops, the boy yells “world’s best hitter” and swings. After failing 10 times to hit the ball, each subsequent time he misses the ball, he yells, “world’s best pitcher.”
There’s no exaggeration when we say our President’s Academic Excellence Scholars are among the very best anywhere. The program provides scholarships to San Bernardino county students in the top 1 percent of their high school graduating classes. Overall, there have been more than 300 PAES scholars since 2002. And more than 86 percent of these students have graduated or are still in school.
So we’re delighted that these students, who can go anywhere, have chosen CSUSB. We believe their numbers are the largest of top 1 percent San Bernardino County students at any university in the nation.
We’ve also created a host of new programs, such as our first doctorate, in educational leadership, first two MFAs, in creative writing and visual arts, and first engineering program, in computer engineering.
Our academic programs also have sought to link closely with the community; for instance our computer science and engineering students work in teams with businesses in developing technology, and we have linked programs as diverse as a new master’s in accounting, logistics, bioinformatics, and entrepreneurship, as well as a host of strategic languages such as Arabic and Persian. Faculty in world languages enjoy joking that if you speak three languages, you’re trilingual; speak two, and you’re bilingual; speak one, and you’re American.
We've established more than 500 partnerships with regional collaborators, ranging from founding a $35 million campus in Palm Desert, to agreements with various hospitals and health districts in graduating more nursing students, to contributing to myriad other efforts, including efforts to advance successful elementary and secondary education and nurture the stem fields, to participation in economic development and furnishing services by various centers and institutes that we created.
These include the Watson Literacy Center, the William and Bobbie Leonard Transportation Center, Inland Empire Entrepreneurship Center, the Palm Springs Center for a Sustainable Environment, and others focused on issues as diverse as water, economics education, developmental disabilities, global economics, hate and extremism, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, child development, indigenous peoples, health disparities, criminal justice, learning, public opinion, recidivism, and so much more.
We also have 3,000 students at any one time in service learning programs, as well as sororities, fraternities, athletic teams and various clubs involved in community improvement projects.
Moreover, shortly after I arrived on campus, we created the Community-University Partnership, a unit central to service learning and assists in funding faculty to work with communities’ issues.
There’s a great deal more that’s being undertaken, but in the interest of time, let me mention first that the water conservation garden was created in partnership with the San Bernardino Municipal Water District, the San Manuel band, and many others.
And second, the Murillo Family Astronomy Observatory, on a hillside north of campus, for which we’re indebted to the George and Pauline Murillo family, Portland Cement, the Matich Corp., Southern California Edison, and many others.
The water garden and the observatory have been recipients of generous gifts that total $5 million in private funds.
With our 50th anniversary around the corner, CSUSB will have a robust opportunity to secure needed funding for endowments and a hedge against further declines in state support. If there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s to have a diversified revenue portfolio.
As I noted earlier, we’ve launched a student success initiative. Given the CSU mission and our location in a two-county area with, are you ready, the very lowest percentage of college graduates in any metropolitan area over one million, and the highest unemployment rate of metro areas again over one million, we need to provide broad access to local students.
We’ve been remarkably successful in offering access – with 77 percent on financial aid, the second highest percentage and amount among the 23 CSU campuses; 50 percent of our students Pell eligible, twice the national average; and 70 percent of our graduates the first college graduates in their families, which is three to four times the national rate.
In addition, we have the second highest proportion of African American and Latino students in California. And Latinos now constitute 51 percent of all California children under 18.
But as I said, access without retention and learning is a hollow promise. When we view retention, we find that our 86 percent first to second year rate is the sixth best in the CSU, far higher than predicted on the basis of 70 percent students requiring remediation in math, English or both, though it’s pleasing that 90 percent of those students are remediated within one year of CSUSB attendance. In addition, our retention of black and Latino students are the CSU’s second or third best.
But once again, retention without learning is an empty and maybe even a disingenuous promise. Along with many hundreds of other universities, we use the Collegiate Learning Assessment or CLA, which tests students as freshmen and as seniors, to serve as an assessment of value added by a college education.
On the latest data– from 2010-2011 – our students entered CSUSB with a collegiate learning assessment score in the 31nd percentile. That’s consistent with our emphasis on broad access. At the time of the senior measurement, their rank climbed by 25 percent to the 56th percentile – higher than the national average. In fact, CSUSB ranked in the top 4 percent of institutions in the degree of learning acquired while in college, scoring at the 96th percentile. Now that’s a very big deal.
And the evidence of other student growth can be seen from the successes of students in various disciplinary competitions, to the game and social media creations in the school of computer science and engineering, to the model U.N. teams outstanding delegation awards in 15 of the past 18 years – with that designation going to only 4 percent of the competing teams – making ours perhaps the best model U.N. program in the world; to our cyber forensics students securing the largest number of $50 to $60,000 federal scholarships for cyber security.
Finally, at 46 percent, our six-year graduation rate is nothing to write home about! But when compared nationally to institutions with student backgrounds similar to CSUSB students, our six-year graduation rate is in the top 11 percent. Thanks to all of you for furnishing our students with rich opportunities for success.
We can’t control political decisions and economic forces that impact our budgets and flexibility. But whether we’re a healthy campus community is entirely up to us – not anyone else – in how we treat one another and respond to adversity.
For us to succeed, we need to remain collaborative and collegial, avoiding the kinds of destructive divisions that now beset many universities, as well as threaten to drown Sacramento and Washington in partisan poison.
There’s an apocryphal story about the coach of the Yeshiva rowing team, which never wins, who visited the all-successful Harvard rowing team. The coach returned to Yeshiva and said, “I know why Harvard succeeds. In their boats, only one yells and the others row.” Well, at CSUSB, we’ve succeeded in part because no one yells.
Marilyn and I came to CSUSB in 1997. By next July, I’ll complete 15 years as only the campus's third president.
Sitting presidents get frequent headhunter invitations to apply for vacancies elsewhere. But I never even peeked at another job or responded to an inquiry or nomination. Why is that? Because I fell in love with CSUSB’s mission, the region's incredibly warm reception for Marilyn and me, the staggering diversity and needs of the student body, the vital role of this campus in the communities we serve, and you all, as well. We were clear that this would be home as long as you wanted us to stay.
Your trust from the very beginning, along with an extraordinary group of vice presidents and deans who’ve been quite insightful and collaborative with one another, plus excellent senate and union leadership, and well-intentioned faculty senates all have been pivotal in our ability to succeed despite the budgetary shackles that have limited our full development.
I’m deeply proud of what you, my colleagues, have accomplished – and the platform that you have for far greater excellence.
You open the doors of opportunity to those underserved in the past – with an astonishing 70 percent of graduates the first in their families to finish college, and that after an education in which the value added is at the 96th percentile. Let me assure you that those two successes trump most anything else that can be placed on the higher education agenda.
Now for the hard part! While I still enjoy what I do, by next April, I’ll celebrate my 70th birthday. It's time to pass the torch to a new steward. So I will retire. The chancellor asked that I remain in office until a new president is chosen and on board, in a search that begins next January. Of course, I agreed.
I look forward to seeing you today at the reception, and I thank you once again for the loyalty and kindness you've given to Marilyn and me.
As I start this last year, let me say as I did at my first convocation. I deeply appreciate your confidence and support. I’m proud to serve as your colleague.