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Bordeaux’s Commitment Has Always Focused On Students

Published: November 1, 2010

From the moment you meet Valerie Bordeaux, you just know that her energy, enthusiasm and dedication to students are unlimited. As Director of University Outreach and School Relations and the President’s Scholars Program, Bordeaux exemplifies CSULB’s commitment to “Changing Lives for A Changing World.”

Her journey on this campus began in 1985 when she was named one of nine CSU Administrative Fellows appointed by the Chancellor and served her fellowship at CSULB. In 1988, she was hired as an associate dean for School-based Student Services in the College of Business Administration and, in 1990, became the director of University Outreach and School Relations. Then, in 1995, in a meeting with campus administrators, she volunteered for an assignment that changed her career.

“I volunteered to find out how many high school valedictorians were attending CSULB,” said Bordeaux. “Then-President Robert Maxson asked the group how many valedictorians had applied to our campus because his goal was to make CSULB the destination for the highest academic achievers through the President’s Scholars Program. No one knew the answer, so I volunteered to track down the information. I identified 10 valedictorians—who became our first President’s Scholars. And, I think because I had volunteered to research the question, I was identified to play a major role in the development of the program,” she added.

“The President’s Scholars Program was an opportunity to put CSULB on the map for attracting the state’s best students—it was the first of its kind in California,” said Bordeaux. “There were numerous scholarships for high school students who excelled in particular subjects or in athletics, but there were relatively few for students who graduated at the top of their class.”

Across the California State University system and throughout higher education in the state, word began to spread about CSULB’s President’s Scholars Program and the students’ success. While the program was attracting much attention and numerous applicants, Bordeaux never relaxed her outreach efforts; instead, she grew them by cultivating relationships not only with prospective CSULB students who were attending high school, but also with prospective students in junior high schools.

“Parents of eighth-grade students would call our office and ask how their children could prepare to compete for the program,” said Bordeaux. “Soon, President’s Scholars expanded to 56 students, then to 130—our goal was to have 300 scholars studying on campus at a time.

“Through the program we helped more top students, families and high school counselors throughout the state to learn about the stellar academic opportunities at CSULB and that their educational dreams could come true here,” she added. “We helped them realize that an education at CSULB was second to none and that student success is our goal at CSULB—they get to know our talented faculty, and the very supportive and personalized campus experience our staff provide.” Bordeaux credits an exceptional staff and their contributions to the program’s continued success on campus and in the community.

Bordeaux's Commitment Has Always Focused On Students
Photo courtesy of Cheri Kinley
Valerie Bordeaux (far right) with a group of President’s Scholars.

President’s Scholars come from very diverse backgrounds. First-generation and students from single-parent homes, students from public and private school backgrounds, and every type of environment are all represented in the program. “The idea that valedictorians only come from privileged backgrounds is myth,” said Bordeaux.

While President Maxson supplied the concept for the President’s Scholars program, President F. King Alexander has led this “jewel of the university” to a new level.

“For example, under his leadership we have four Fulbright Scholars, a more global emphasis and more study abroad opportunities are being developed,” said Bordeaux. “This past year we also expanded the criteria for President’s Scholars to include National Achievement Scholars and National Hispanic Recognition Program—the nation’s top African-American and Hispanic scholars.”

As community service during their freshman and sophomore years, President’s Scholars give back by visiting their former high schools. Their outreach efforts and those of Bordeaux’s student recruitment team continue to pay off, especially during the economic downturn.

“We’re still a hot campus and the interest in the President’s Scholars Program continues to grow,” said Bordeaux.

Bordeaux directly changes the lives of students who excel academically and receive President’s Scholars awards. The scholars then pursue their lives and careers in communities where they profoundly influence people, businesses and organizations. They improve the lives of countless others.

“We are privileged to do what we do in education,” said Bordeaux. “In some way, we can make a positive difference. Our students have local, national and worldwide impacts—impacts that reflect the exceptional quality of their educational experiences at CSULB.”

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The President’s Scholars Program began in 1995 with only 10 valedictorians and to date 1,003 President’s Scholars have participated in the program. Currently, more than 300 students are served by the program, representing 41 California counties. Among the features of the President’s Scholars award are full payment of in-state tuition and general student fees, highest priority registration, paid housing in campus residence halls and automatic acceptance into the University Honors Program.