CSULB is a university of distinction. You will know that it’s a university of distinction because of the things you are about to hear about the amazing things that happened on this campus.
While I cannot acknowledge all of the accomplishments of the past year, I would like to take a few minutes to share a few of the outstanding achievements and hallmarks from 2010-11.
In 2011 CSULB was named:
We also implemented new programs and initiatives that meet the needs of faculty, staff and students.
Across the colleges, faculty were awarded more than $39 million in external grants and funding in 2010-11, including:
The campus also serves the community.
That’s just a few of the thousands of hallmarks that happen on this campus every year. Please join me in congratulating those we mentioned and those we didn’t.
Today, as in past Convocations, I am going to talk about the year past, our planning for this year and, lastly, what are we going to do next year.
Since 2008, people across the nation continue to deal with one of the most severe and lasting economic crisis in our history. The impact of this reality on public higher education - and all public education, K through Ph.D., or should I say Ed.D., - is dramatic. California is leading the way – our state, like most states in the nation, is abandoning support for public higher education. We are clearly in the reality of rationing higher education to our citizens.
Further, in the last two years, there is a new element in our planning. Specifically, unlike budget reductions in the past, we no longer appear to be in a cyclic reduction. We are not trying to anticipate how long we must do with less until “full funding” (whatever that meant) returned. What we now experience is a new reality – which is commonly referred to as “the new normal”. This new reality is that our current, much reduced funding levels – both in terms of actual dollars and funding per student – is likely to be the best we can expect moving forward.
The impact of these realities hits everyone on campus – staff, students, faculty, and administration. We are all frustrated and deeply disappointed.
In my duties as Provost, I have opportunities to meet many visitors from around the world. These visitors are university, city or other government officials. These visits are most often arranged by Jeet Joshee wearing one of his two hats as AVP for International Education or as Dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Education. The visitors come to campus for a variety of reasons, most commonly to determine if there are joint programs or initiatives in which we can join as partners. What is very clear from talking to our guests is that virtually every country has placed education as either the top priority of their government or one of the top three priorities. It is a matter of public policy – it is recognition that educating its citizens is essential to their country’s future.
Education for them is not a special interest. It is a national interest, it is a state interest, and it is a local interest. I am reminded that Anna Quindlen, American author and journalist, stated that “In the last 25 years, we have changed the country just enough to make it very different, but not enough to make it work.”
We are reminded that even with the significant increases in fees, the CSU remains one of the best bargains in Higher Education.
Last year, 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 is an amazing testament to the determination and will of our faculty, staff, students and administrators. Considering our circumstances, we had another remarkable year – but we know this is not sustainable.
Faced with this enormous challenge, how do we deal with the next level of budget reduction – how have we planned for this year, for the 2011-12 year and beyond? What did we say we would do, and what did we do?
As usual, a first major step was to convene the Resource Planning Process (RPP). RPP has representation from across campus – all four divisions, students, staff, and the California Faculty Association. Each of our four divisions began planning for the next year 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 in tandem with the other Divisions. The Academic Affairs budget gurus are two amazing people – Vice Provost Dave Dowell and Assistant Vice President for Academic Resources, Marianne Hata. We all worked with the academic leadership, the deans, associate deans, department chairs, Academic Senate leadership, and others to create a plan for this year. And, because we make decisions using data as a key element, the contributions of Van Novack and his staff in Institutional Research is invaluable. The timely and important analysis of Helen Batchelor is also essential to our effective planning.
Communication is a key element in any planning process. Therefore, in order to share the budget planning 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 continued multiple methods of communication. These included:
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 all knew we would.
As we move forward in these uncertain times, I am moved by a couple of quotes. One is:
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.
We say that we are a “teaching-intensive, research-driven, university that graduates students with highly valued degrees. 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 our students’ degrees 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 every year at Commencement - nine celebrations of achievement, joy, and hope.
In the year ahead, Academic Affairs continues to have Two Prime Priorities:
Student Success – Graduating Students with Highly Valued Degrees
This is a campus priority. It is a campus priority because Student Success is central to our Mission. It is what we do.
CSULB’s graduation rates have doubled while our diversity has increased over the past decade. Our rates are well above CSU system averages and we estimate that our rates place CSULB among the top 10 percent of similar institutions across the nation.
We have been successful because everyone – and I mean everyone - has worked hard on behalf of our students. Student Success is a university effort – it is everyone’s job. It is central to our Mission.
While we have taken significant positive steps in student success, what were the next steps. Last year, the HVDI (Highly Valued Degree Initiative) team, led by Vice Provost Dave Dowell and Associate Vice President Lynn Mahoney, worked with five task forces, with representation and leadership from Academic Affairs and Student Services and our students, worked diligently to identify the best practices and strategies to put us on a path of continuous improvement. As we have for many years, we continued to use data not anecdote, to guide our planning and strategizing.
Another new element last year, was to provide a variety of data to each college and department citing key elements in student success planning. This effort will continue to be a partnership between Academic Affairs, Student Services, the colleges, the deans, the department chairs, faculty, staff, students, and everyone on campus. A special thank you to Dave Dowell, Lynn Mahoney and to our deans, associate deans and department chairs who continue to make student success a priority.
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 continue to create a sustainable plan of funding for faculty support. As part of this effort, we need to push this year’s research and grant activity beyond the $38M, toward the $50M mark and continue to grow. Our future depends on it. This year, under the leadership of our new Associate Vice President, T. C. Yih, the office of University Research and Sponsored Programs was reorganized to better address the needs of our faculty. A key element in this reorganization was a renewed commitment to service. We are indebted to the ad hoc advisory committee that identified issues and suggested strategies to better position the research office in assisting our faculty.
As you heard earlier, what was the message that was carried to the campus in Road Show II? What is it we have said we are going to do? Here is a capsulized version of what we outlined as the plan going forward.
Budget Reductions: The CSU has been given budget reductions totaling $650M – about $40M for our campus - a reduction of over 25%. This is the worst budget reduction in our history.
And, to keep things interesting, there is also the likelihood of another $100M reduction at the end of this calendar year based on a “trigger” linked to anticipated of levels of state revenue. This means that near the end of fall semester, we are likely to get another $8M reduction. We’re already planning on it.
“The New Normal”: As I mentioned earlier, it appears that this budget reality is not short-term. Unlike past decades, when the state and/or nation have experienced budget problems related to cyclic changes in the economy, there are reasons to think current problems will be long-term: this is due to many realities, including the increasing costs of retirement and health care benefits; competing demands for public funding: health care, social services, corrections, state infrastructure; changing competitive position of the US and our state in the world economy.
Therefore, unfortunately, we cannot assume that budgets will return to prior levels within a year or two
Two Year Plan: Because the campus saved $19M from the Federal Stimulus funding and because we did not spend any of another $19M that we got from the state in Spring of 2010, we have the opportunity to plan for a “soft landing”. That is, these temporary, one-time mitigations will be used to give us two years to plan. These are temporary solutions, but giving us more time to plan – and to monitor developments in the national and state economies – can almost be considered a luxury.
Especially with that in mind, as we create our two-year plan, we intend to preserve classes and services as much as possible. We also intend to protect permanent employees as much as possible, manage workload, and save money.
A real paradox beginning with this fall is that enrollment will be up (with student fee revenue helping to offset reductions) and with carry-over resources protecting us, we will be supporting a fairly normal schedule of classes.
But we began implementing budget-saving strategies several years ago as we plan for much deeper cuts in two years. And we will await further developments from the state and the nation.
Budget Strategies: Among the budget strategies we will use, in addition to utilizing carryover funding and temporary solutions to create soft landing, are to repurpose revenues to support classes and services if needed, evaluate existing business practices to fully utilize technology and gain efficiencies. Among the realities that we have already and will continue to face are budget reduction strategies that include, further reducing faculty assigned time, further reductions in operating, travel, and equipment funds, limiting tenure-track hires for 2012-13.
One of the things I heard loud and clear on the road shows was that we can’t keep cutting the number of tenure-track faculty. On the one hand we approved 29 tenure-track searches for fall 2012 hire, but on the other hand, we saved by not replacing all the faculty and staff who retired, we saved a million dollars for this year. It continues to be a delicate balance.
Other strategies to be more efficient and save money include consolidating technology services and equipment, mandating the use of electronic processes for purchase orders and time reporting; further reducing hard copy mailings; and reductions to in-person services and window hours.
Potential Consequences: We are very aware of the potential negative impact these actions and others can have on our campus.
Together we have all helped CSULB become a place of high quality and great experiences - we are justly proud of The Beach
Our Mission of accessible, quality higher education and our commitment to student success is our central strength.
The prime reason that CSULB works, the reason so many of us have chosen to make our life’s work at CSULB, is the people.
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.
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.
However, we are facing the greatest budget challenge ever for the campus and we are concerned about our future.
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 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.
We continue to have outstanding leadership in student government – our partners in this enterprise.
On a more personal note, the quality and effectiveness and dedication of my colleagues in academic affairs is truly remarkable. Each day I am honored to work with Dave Dowell, Cecile Lindsay, Lynn Mahoney, Holly Harbinger, Elizabeth Martin, Rene Castro, and Linda Fontes, and of course, Deanna Bennett. The campus is most fortunate to have this group of professionals working on our behalf.
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.
We will continue to work together to get through these budgetary challenges.
We do not wish to retreat on our remarkable achievements.
Talk to your legislators.
Talk to your friends and neighbors.
Acknowledge that we are all going through a time of great uncertainty and discomfort.
Stay positive and be patient.
This campus has a history 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. But these next years are really going to be a challenge.
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.
As we move forward, there are other areas that must be addressed in a positive and productive manner.
Commitment to maintaining student diversity and increasing faculty diversity. Our student population is among the most diverse in our nation. We must continue to demonstrate our commitment to faculty diversity using President Alexander’s excellent diversity plan. We welcome our new Director of Equity and Diversity, Larissa Hamada, to this important effort.
We must expand our International programs for students and continue to infuse our curricula with global content and experience. Thanks to the International Education Task Force for their excellent report that they wrote last year that begins to give us some guidelines for the future.
Communication. Communication is essential to avoid misunderstandings, to limit frustrations, and to be as inclusive as we can in the decision making process. We communicate with the campus in many ways, including President Alexander’s campus messages, the Wednesday Message from the Provost’s Office and News and Notes from the Division of Administration and Finance.
The last campus asset that I will mention is also the most important. An organization that intends to prosper and evolve requires a clear vision from its leader. An organization needs a leader who is strong and consistent. King Alexander is all of these. He is a nationally-recognized expert on issues relating to higher education finance and policy, he is nationally recognized expert and leader in issues relating to public higher education policy and access. He is a leading national advocate for public higher education. He talks the talk and walks the walk. I am honored to work for King Alexander on behalf of the campus I love.
People often ask me if I still enjoy my job – with all the budget problems. The answer is yes, I love coming to work every day. It is an honor to serve as your Provost. I love this university, its mission, and its people.
We have a great deal to be proud of.
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. The impact of CSULB is both the educational quality that we provide and the educational quantity that we provide.
We change lives and we lift the human spirit.
Thank you for your kind attention.