Provost's 2010 Convocation Address
August 27, 2010
Today, you will hear several themes from the three of us who will speak. These include that:
- The Mission of CSULB is central to our strength and uniqueness – it is central to who we are as an institution
- Our Mission is based on serving students and providing our students a high quality education that will give them the opportunity to reach their life’s goals.
- In order to provide students with a highly valued degree, we must support faculty. If faculty, supported by staff, do not have the resources to do their work – teaching, research, scholarship and creative activities, and service – the education we provide our students will suffer.
- Our history of working together, our willingness to listen to each other which has served us so well is part of what makes this campus unique. Shared governance, which includes participation from our student leadership, is alive and well on this campus.
- This university works. This university works because of the people.
- Public Higher Education is under a threat more dire than at any time in its history; states, including California, are attempting to abandon support for Public Higher Education. This is a public policy issue of the highest order.
A University of Distinction 2009-10 Achievements
CSULB is a university of distinction. Through the dedication and hard work of our talented faculty and staff, we have experienced many remarkable accomplishments during the last year.
While time does not allow me to acknowledge all of the accomplishments of the past year today, Before I talk about the year past and the year ahead, I would like to take a few minutes to share a few outstanding achievements from 2009-10.
- We received a record number of undergraduate applications for Fall 2010, breaking the 70,000 mark for the first time in CSULB history. We received more undergraduate applications than any other CSU and every UC, except UCLA.
- In 2009-10, CSULB graduated 8,669 students and granted 9,186 degrees – the largest number in the history of this university and among the largest number of any school across the nation. Our graduating class included 15 students in the first cohort of our Educational Leadership doctoral program.
- When compared to similar public master’s institutions nationally, our graduation rates are among the top 10 percent for all students, underrepresented students, and for Latino, African-American, and Caucasian students. In addition, we rank among the top 20 percent for Asian and Asian-American students.
- We have been recognized nationally for our efforts to help students stay on track and graduate. Earlier this spring, we were featured in a major national report by the Southern Regional Education Board, titled “Promoting a Culture of Student Success: How Colleges and Universities Are Improving Degree Completion.”
- One of the key initiatives in 2009 was a new policy which was designed to improve students’ academic performance by identifying students in academic risk. The results were excellent.
- After Spring 2008, 91.1% of our active undergraduates were in Good Standing. After Spring 2009, 92.1% were in Good Standing, and after Spring 2010, when all of the new policies were in effect, 94.5% of our students are in Good Standing. Even better, fewer students are getting placed on probation in the first place. In Fall 2010 only 1.6% of our students were on probation.
- Our students are going on to impressive institutions to earn their doctorates. The Health Professions Advising Office within the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics tracked students it advised and found that 36 students were accepted at 71 professional schools, including UCLA, Stanford, USC, Duke University, and Boston University.
- Our academic programs were recognized nationally, earning numerous awards, such as
- The prestigious Buzz Aldrin Space Education and Workforce Award from the California Space Authority. The award was given to the College of Engineering’s California Launch Vehicle Education Initiative for its contribution to the success of space enterprise in California.
- The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, now entering its third year, demonstrated just how exceptional the talent and training is at CSULB. Students received numerous awards, including five 2010 Downbeat Magazine Student Music Awards, the largest and most prestigious national jazz competition.
- The quality of our academic programs continued to be strengthened during the past year.
- The College of Business Administration restructured the Saturday MBA program to better prepare students to solve the complex issues organizations face today.
- The Department of Social Work, which has been ranked second nationally among comprehensive institutions by U.S.News and World Report, became the School of Social Work.
- For the first time, our independent doctoral program in the College of Education is at full capacity.
- The recently completed Nursing building is providing much needed teaching and computer labs as well as administrative and department offices for our Nursing students and faculty.
- The University Center for Undergraduate Advising had contact with students more than 68,000 times, advising 23,700 students. Thank you Gail Fenton and your staff.
- Nearly 12,000 students enrolled in the 2010 Summer Session, which was administered through the College of Continuing and Professional Education this year.
- The reach and scope of the faculty’s research, scholarly and creative activity was impressive. The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics alone submitted 100 proposals requesting nearly $38 million in funds to a variety of federal and state agencies for grants and contracts.
- Across the colleges, faculty were awarded more than $46 million in external grants and funding in 2009-10–nearly a $20 million increase from the previous year.
- Among the most significant grants was a $5 million grant to establish a NASA University Research Center. The Center for Human Factors in Advanced Aeronautics Technologies will help make technological advances in the air traffic management industry.
- A $4.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow CSULB faculty and students to play a significant role in addressing health disparities and improving the quality of life for many people.
- CSULB faculty saw more than 236 books, book chapters and articles published, and presented hundreds of papers at professional conferences in 2009-10. (Since we do not have a systematic way of gathering this information, these numbers represent what we can verify – we know there are many more that we simply cannot track at this time.)
- College of the Arts faculty saw nearly 40 new works released and presentations given internationally in 09-10.
- The Library made it easier for students and faculty to conduct research anywhere at any time by adding a database that provides full articles from more than 5,300 periodicals, as well as indexing and abstracts for 10,900 publications. CSULB was the first in the CSU to offer this database. The dean of the Library continues to demonstrate his leadership by hosting a Starbuck’s Coffee House – a major academic achievement of which we should all be proud. Based on a request from student leadership, even during the difficult budget times last year, Roman Kochan and his staff opened the Library “24/7” for the week before and the week of finals in both fall and spring semesters. Dean Kochan even provided free coffee for our students after Starbuck’s closed. Thank you, Roman and library staff.
- In summer 2010, 27 faculty members took 302 students to 18 countries through programs run by the Center for International Education and the College of Continuing and Professional Education.
- Students participating in Winter Session faculty-led study abroad programs have doubled in the last two years. In January 2010, 113 students traveled with 11 faculty to 7 countries. (I happened to see a video that was produced by the students who were on one trip led by David Hood - they did seem to be having a lot of fun. I’m sure it was an outstanding educational experience.)
- CSULB ranked third throughout the CSU in the number of graduates who become Peace Corps volunteers. About 30 CSULB alumni are serving in 23 posts throughout the world working on projects related to Health and HIV/AIDS, the environment, business development, education and youth.
- Students performed more than 47,000 hours of community service at more than 119 sites throughout the community.
- CSULB was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The recognition comes from the highest levels of the federal government in honor of our commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Thank you to Juan Benitez and the staff at the Center for Community Engagement.
- Staff from the Divisions of Administration and Finance, Academic Affairs and University Relations and Development worked together to select a new e-mail system for students. Microsoft Live will be available to students this year, offering many benefits, including greater e-mail storage and enhanced security safeguards. Once it is in place, we will begin looking at an e-mail system that best serves the needs of faculty and staff.
- Desire2Learn was selected as the new Learning Management System to operate BeachBoard. Faculty will be able to participate in a pilot program this spring. The system is expected to be in place by next summer.
With all of those achievements it’s no wonder that CSULB is found on so many national rankings lists.
- Earlier this month U.S.News & World Report ranked us the fourth best public regional university in the western United States.
- We were designated a “Best in the West” college by The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review also named CSULB one of the nation’s 50 “Best Value” public colleges and listed the College of Business Administration in its 301 Best Business Schools.
- We ranked second among the CSU campuses on Forbes’ “America’s Best Colleges” list released earlier this month.
- The magazine G.I. Jobs listed us among the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the nation that are doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students.
- In July Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranked this university sixth in the nation in conferring bachelor’s degrees to minority students.
This fall, the university will conclude the final stage of a multi-year reaffirmation of accreditation effort that began with a proposal for how we as a campus community could study our educational practices and improve their effectiveness through evidence-based inquiry. A very strong focus of our self study was on student success, educational effectiveness, student services, and student experiences. On October 6, 7, and 8th a team of colleagues from peer institutions (or so-called peer institutions) will visit our campus on behalf of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. They will seek to validate our self-study by reviewing documents, examining department and college websites, and by meeting with faculty, students, staff and administrators. I encourage you to check out our self-study on the CSULB WASC website and to take advantage of the various opportunities to meet with the WASC team. Each and every one of us is vital to student success and educational effectiveness here at The Beach, and we want to demonstrate that commitment to our visitors this fall.
One last item. Did you know that CSULB has had the lowest crime rate per student of any campus in the CSU for three consecutive years. Thank you to Chief of Police, Stan Skipworth and his officers and staff.
There are so many other programs that could be cited. This is a university that works. The kind of success that we together have managed could not happen without broad consensus, collaboration, and cooperation.
The Year Past: What We Dealt With, What We Said We Would Do, and What We Did
In the last two years, people across the nation dealt with one of the most severe economic crises in our memory. The impact of this reality on public higher education was dramatic. California is leading the way – we are clearly in the reality of rationing higher education to our citizens. In short, last year was not business as usual.
Twelve years ago, support for higher education in California covered 50% of the cost of educating each student. For Fall 2010, that number will be 20%. That will be a 20% reduction in the last two years. For the CSU and for our campus, among other things, this meant the largest reductions in our history with the most severe reduction coming just a few months before the beginning of the fall semester. This is no way to do business. The impact on everyone was significant. People were frustrated, angry, and deeply disappointed. And how did we all respond to this difficult situation? We did what we always seem to do on this campus – we went about our business serving students, creating new knowledge through research and scholarship, creating new art, and we worked together on campus issues. We did more than survive. The list of accomplishments you heard earlier in an amazing testament to the determination and will of our faculty, staff, students, and administrators. Considering our circumstances, we had a remarkable year – but we know this is not sustainable.
Last year was clearly a year of significant challenge. We had a huge budget hole to fill. One strategy that was both a critical factor in our ability to manage last year and, at the same time, the most significant source of frustration and anger, was furloughs. Furloughs saved the campus $20M last year. Good strategy for last year. Furloughs are gone. We hope never have to deal with the “F-Word” again. And despite the loss of time and income that impacted our personal and professional lives in so many ways, we acted like professionals and just did our work – as we always have. Our students were our partners in this unique endeavor.
Faced with this enormous challenge, how did we deal with the next level of budget reduction – how did we plan for this year, for the 2010-11 year? What did we say we would do, and what did we do?
A major first step was to convene the Resource Planning Process (RPP) six months earlier than usual. Immediately, each of our four divisions began planning for the next year. This was done in an atmosphere of collegiality and openness – but with a sense of urgency and in full recognition of the huge task ahead of us.
In Academic Affairs, which represents about 70% of the university budget, we created a budget plan for our Division that, in something of a surprise, came together in September. The budget plan (the October budget plan – my words) was created by the leadership in Academic Affairs, with special thanks to Dave Dowell, Vice-Provost, Marianne Hata, Assistant Vice President for Academic Resources, and the deans. The Senate agreed to use the university-wide forum of the Senate Retreat to share, discuss, critique, question, and probe the Budget Plan. The retreat includes faculty, staff, students, and administrators – representatives from all Divisions of the university.
And, in order to share this as widely as possible – in order to provide anyone who wanted to hear about the budget and budget planning, for anyone who wanted to offer suggestions, we did two things. We created “Budget Central” on the university website where we posted our budget planning documents. And, we went “on the road.” Between Mary Stephens, Dave Dowell, Ted Kadowaki, and I, we gave dozens of presentations to anyone on campus who wished to hear. We communicated and we listened.
In our budget planning, we held to five strategic markers:
- Preserve the Core Mission
- Preserve the Core Values
- Serve Students
- Position the university for the future.
- And we vowed to do this planning in the way we always do - with civility and professionalism in our interactions, acting on the importance of shared governance, and with effective campus leadership.
We said we would be open and transparent. We said we would work together. We said we would communicate. And we did just that. As we knew we would.
The Year Ahead: How Do We Move Forward
As we move forward in these uncertain times, I am moved by a series of quotes relating to the future and planning for the future:
- “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” African Proverb
- “We are called to be architects of the future, not is victims.” Richard Buckminster Fuller
- “If we are to better the future we must disturb the present.” Catherine Brooks
- “You must ask the right questions if you want the right answers. And, don’t ask the questions if you don’t want the answers.”
CSULB embraces its Mission as a public university. We embrace our Mission as a public, urban, comprehensive university. CSULB is doing exactly what a public university is supposed to do: working for the public good. CSULB serves in-state students, supports dozens of high quality programs (not a few elite programs), we work in partnership with the Long Beach Unified School District and Long Beach City College – students can go from pre-school to a doctorate in this city.
We say that we are a “teaching-intensive, research-driven, university that graduates students with highly valued degrees. To me this means that we value teaching and the classroom experience. We believe that students should expect to be taught by faculty who are well supported. If faculty are not well supported in their research, scholarship and creative activity, the value of the degrees we offer will diminish. The CSULB faculty, supported by the staff, spend their days teaching, mentoring, advising, and encouraging our students to grow, mature, and achieve – as students and as people.
Evidence of our commitment to graduating students with highly valued degrees is demonstrated in a most dramatic way at Commencement - nine celebrations of achievement, joy, and hope.
Academic Affairs' Prime Priorities
In the year ahead, Academic Affairs will have two prime priorities:
The first is the next phase, the next steps in the “Highly Valued Degree Initiative.” Why is this a priority: Because Student Success is central to our Mission. It is a university priority: It is what we do.
A few days ago, Academic Affairs mailed an electronic “thank you” for the support you have given for student success. The letter read in part:
“CSULB’s graduation rates have doubled while our diversity has increased over the past decade. Our rates are well above CSU system averages (both overall and for underrepresented students) and we estimate that our rates place CSULB among the top 10 percent of similar institutions across the nation. Diverse Issues in Higher Education has ranked CSULB 6th Best University in the nation for conferring bachelor’s degrees to minority students.”
We have been successful because everyone – and I mean everyone - has worked hard on behalf of students. Student success is a university effort – it is everyone’s job. It is central to our Mission.
We have had significant success – but we need to take the next steps. The five task forces that comprise much of our Highly Valued Degree Initiative have been working diligently to identify the best practices and strategies to put us on a path of continuous improvement. As we have for five years, we will use data not anecdote, to guide our planning and strategizing. This effort will continue to be a partnership between Academic Affairs, the deans, the department chairs, faculty, staff, and everyone on campus. Thanks to the outstanding leadership from Dave Dowell and Lynn Mahoney. A special thank you to Van Novack and his staff in Institutional Research who do an amazing job of providing us with the data we need to make the right kinds of decisions.
Our second priority is support for Faculty Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activities
Faculty are our most valuable resource. The university and its students cannot be successful without the faculty being successful. This means dealing with issues related to teaching loads and support for other faculty work. In collaboration with leadership in the departments, colleges, academic affairs, and the other divisions, we need to create a sustainable plan of funding for faculty support. We need to identify a collection of funding sources, including fund-raising, that will provide a consistent, reliable base of support. As part of this effort, we need to push this year’s record research and grant activity of $46.6M beyond the $50 M mark and continue to grow. In our current budget situation, in the short term, we are not going to be able to provide the kind of faculty support we know is needed but we must start now to determine what those next steps will be. Our future depends on it.
Many people have asked me what I have learned in my year as Provost. Let me give you a list of not so much what I have learned as a list of what I knew, or thought I knew, and had confirmed. This could also be viewed as a list of what makes this university work, and the assets we have that position us very well for the future.
What have I learned or had confirmed in the last year:
- Our Mission of accessible, quality higher education and our commitment to student success is our central strength.
- It has been confirmed for me that the prime reason this place works, the reason so many of us have chosen to make our life’s work at CSULB is the people.
- This university does work. But the balance is sometimes very delicate.
- We have a strong, dedicated, and talented faculty, including our lecturers. The faculty are the soul of a university.
- We have outstanding students. I have been captivated by our students – their intelligence, their enthusiasm, their diversity, their determination to succeed (often as the first in their families to attend college) and the many and varied life paths each student has taken in their journey to this campus.
- Quality instruction and effective advising is only part of the job. The remainder is the out of classroom education. A student who has only gone to class has not gotten a complete education – educate the whole student.
- We are deeply appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the staff. We all know that without the staff, this enterprise we call CSULB would fall apart.
- We continue to have outstanding leadership in student government – our partners in this enterprise.
- We have outstanding campus leadership at all levels.
- The cooperation of the Vice Presidents is real. An exceptional group of leaders in central administration that is inclusive in decision-making and keeps the well-being of the faculty and students as the core priority. The importance of effective leadership, focused on the entire campus experience for our students, that comes from Mary Stephens, Doug Robinson, and Andrea Taylor cannot be overstated.
- The quality and effectiveness and dedication of the staff in Academic Affairs is truly remarkable.
- The leadership we receive from our outstanding deans and our dedicated group of department chairs (the most difficult and most important job on campus) is an essential element of why we succeed as a campus. They must be supported in their work.
- Campus leadership from faculty and staff is another essential element of why we succeed as a campus.
- The history of respect for shared governance in working with the Academic Senate is real.
- The history of collegial relationships with the CFA, CSUEU, and the other unions that are represented on campus is real.
- A history on this campus of finding a way to do what needs to be done and coming out stronger at the other end – and going through that process with a high level of civility and professionalism is also real.
- I’ll add that we have come through a good deal of adversity – as we have so many times before – but we know our current situation is not sustainable.
- Telling the Story – the recognition matches the reality. This campus has a reach and scope that is quite amazing. But the reality of who we are and what we do – regionally, state-wide, nationally, and internationally – is not matched by the press or other recognition we receive. This is the case for programs and people across campus.
- Fund raising and development is central to our future. We must be ever more successful in bringing outside resources to the university on a consistent basis. We must be very aware that people, even our friends, like to give to winners. They give to excitement. They give to something special and important. They give to support students or to support their alma mater. Even as we speak of the significant challenges that we face, we must leave interactions with our friends and donors with a sense of optimism.
- As is the case with most public universities, we have on-going issues related to facilities maintenance and upgrades.
- IT – We know we are behind in technology. We know that technology is an integral part of the teaching and learning process. In our most recent Goals statement, the “teaching and learning process” has taken a central role in our planning. “We must do technology for purposeful reasons.” We need faculty and staff training so they can take advantage of these powerful tools. Thanks to Roman Kochan for providing leadership in this crucial area.
- Commitment to maintaining student diversity and increasing faculty diversity. President Alexander has just given the campus an excellent diversity plan – a positive set of initiatives and actions.
- Staff need on-going training to be able to do their job effectively.
- We must expand our International programs for students and continue to infuse our curricula with global content and experience. Thanks to Jeet Joshee for providing leadership in this important area.
- Impact on the legislature the work of the Coalition. Keep the focus of our frustration on the legislature and the governor – that’s where the problem lies. If we act together, the students, faculty, staff, and administration is a potent political force.
- Maybe the most important confirmation is the importance of communication. Communication is essential to avoid misunderstandings, to limit frustrations, and to be as inclusive as we can in the decision making process. One of the small initiative, the Wednesday Message, from the Provost’s Office has been very well received. These messages will begin again next week.
- Another thing I have learned is that my training as a composer is very helpful in this job; being creative is essential. I’m a composer – a creative person by nature and training. As a composer, dealing with limitations and obstacles are part of the creative process. Working with others, I try to use my imagination to move the university forward. I also remind myself that the opposite of creative is destructive.
- Another confirmation is best described as Hazard Adams stated in his wry book, The Academic Tribes, on the realities of life in the academy: “An academic administrator’s support diminishes with the first major decision and continues to diminish with each decision thereafter.” You can’t please all the people.
- I am an optimistic person and will continue to be. I’m very positive about the future of this campus. And, regarding the future, Abraham Lincoln stated: “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”
- Another thing that has been confirmed for me is that President Alexander is the “real deal.” I do feel honored to work for him on behalf of the campus. I also thank him for giving me this opportunity to serve the campus I love. Thanks, Boss.
- And having witnessed nine Commencement Ceremonies last May, I don’t know how he shakes 9000 hands!
- There are other things that I have learned in the last year, but it would be inappropriate to share them in public.
As I have mentioned several times today, there is a remarkable leadership team in Academic Affairs. We are here to serve. We will be collegial and collaborative. We will not micro-manage. We will be transparent and open. We will have our opinions and will happily share them but we will not be stubborn. “Let the best idea win.” We value our integrity. We will listen. We will lead and we will act.
- It is an honor to serve as your Provost. It is an honor to work with outstanding colleagues in Academic Affairs and across campus as we deal with our most urgent and pressing issues.
- I have had to make some hard decisions – I always kept the best interest of the university in mind. Always very mindful of the impact on people.
- I’ve been around a long time, I’ve worked with budget, curricula, personnel, contracts, and all the rest for over 20 years on this campus - but I still have a lot to learn.
- I love this university, mission, and its people.
- We have a great deal to be proud of – a great history of accomplishment for the public good. We will continue to meet these challenges as we have many times before.
- Rumors – I know, as you do, that rumors can be destructive. If you hear a rumor, please, find out the truth. Ask someone who would know or who could find the real answer.
- Mission: When we say that we change lives – it’s true. When we say that we graduate students with “highly valued degrees” we mean it. We proudly state that our campus has tangible links with our local community, embedded in the educational process. We also can claim that our institution, CSULB, has a reach and impact that is regional, state-wide, national, and international. This is central to our multi-faceted mission. The impact of CSULB is both the educational quality that we provide and the educational quantity that we provide.
Thank you for your kind attention and thank you for attending today.