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Convocation

Convocation is an annual celebration for faculty and staff held on the Friday prior to the start of instruction to mark the beginning of the new academic school year. Hundreds of people gather from across campus at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center to welcome new colleagues, highlight recent achievements and share ideas as we look to the future.

President's Message

Thank you so much, Provost Jersky.

I join the Provost and other speakers in welcoming all of you to Convocation 2019 and to a new academic year.

A special welcome to our President’s Scholars and their families — I’m so pleased to see you here today.

Also a shout-out to recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Award, which recognizes full professors who, despite no special financial incentives, continue to excel in their roles as faculty members.

To those faculty, staff, and students who are new to our campus, your Beach family is excited to learn more about — and from — you. This is a special place. A place of compassion, creativity and innovation. I hope it was this specialness that drew you here. And if you are anything like me, you will grow to love The Beach more with each passing year.

I promise that I will work hard every day to support you, to advance opportunities for your intellectual growth and your personal and professional well-being. Very importantly, I look forward to seeing how you will change us for the better. 

And, of course, a very warm welcome back to our returning faculty and staff, who put incredible energy and expertise into everything they do. They are the reason this is an exceptional place to work, learn, and play.     

* * *

Each summer, at the end of August, we gather together to look back on the past year and think about the upcoming one. Today has a special look-forward for me.

We stand at the cusp of a new academic year — I trust with renewed energy and exhilarated by fresh promise … our university strengthened by cherished traditions and enriched with new people and ideas. I am certain, however, that this new year comes with a compelling need to continue our planning for the future

At last year’s Convocation, I said, “The future is in our hands,” and I asked you to join me in taking a broad-based look at The Beach and the forces surrounding us. To think about the activities, traditions, and practices that should be preserved, created, or forgotten to ensure our future viability and exceptional success in 2030.

I am delighted and profoundly grateful to say that you took this message to heart! What you had to say was revelatory, often leading to even more questions. This is exactly as it should be. In fact, thousands of university stakeholders have participated in what became our strategic-planning process, dubbed Beach 2030.

Thanks to all of you who have participated, thus far, and thanks especially to Dhushy Sathianathan, Dan O’Connor, Jennifer Ostergren, Karen Nakai, and Michelle Baik.   

This has been a robust and thoughtful discussion exploring and articulating our animating values and imagining the evolution of our university, campus, and curricula, as well as our future role in the region and beyond. When it is completed, this plan will help ensure that we are able to prepare our large, highly diverse student population for the world and economies of today and tomorrow, offer our faculty and staff environments that promote their best selves, and cement our commitments to shared governance with shared responsibility.

And, as a side note, there’s already evidence that our Beach 2030 process is serving as a model for inclusive, inventive, transparent, action-oriented planning in U.S. higher education. We’ve made the news in several major outlets, and I’ve been contacted by universities in CA, KS, NY, NE, ILL, to name just a few, to describe the approach.

We know that regional comprehensives like us (although no one is REALLY like us) are threatened, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, with declining enrollments, stagnant or falling state aid, failing public confidence, skyrocketing student-loan debt, higher legislative expectations for graduation rates, and a rapidly changing world of work.

While we on the West Coast are in better shape for now compared to the Northeast and the Midwest, falling birthrates will hit us right after 2030. So, we’re doing the exact right thing by planning for how we’ll triumph despite national and even international threats. I recommend the report Squeezed From All Sides: Opportunities and Challenges for Regional Pubic Universities, by the way, to anyone who’d like to know what I’m worried about.

In addition to mitigating threats, our Beach 2030 plan must be responsive to our biggest opportunities and our most pressing needs to continue our institutional evolution toward inclusive excellence.

I’ve been so gratified by the inclusive nature of this process and the thoughtful and energetic input received – I’ve even appreciated the skepticism.  

As much as Beach 2030 has been about anticipating trends and exploring how we will evolve, one constant is our educational mission.

Your voice has been heard, and we have revised our mission statement:

“CSULB enriches students’ lives through globally informed,        high-impact educational experiences with superior teaching,      research, creative activity, and action for the public good.”

We want to make a transformational difference to our students, empowering them through teaching, research, mentoring, and personal- and social-development activities.

Our vision for Cal State Long Beach embraces our mission but articulates a broader sense of what we can become and the meaning we present to our various publics and as a steward of place.

We benefit from a strong reputation, in-demand educational programs, and a thriving region. Our university sits squarely in the middle of the forces shaping higher education.

Universities can and should be the great multipliers of expertise across a comprehensive array of disciplines, civic engagement, and personal well-being. This unique position presents a simple yet compelling vision for our future:

“California State University, Long Beach, will be a force for good at the forefront of public education in California and the world.”

I am perhaps most excited that this process has also yielded an exploration of our shared values. Our values represent our character and the principles that bind us together. They serve as the engine behind the scenes that powers and informs our decision-making and how we relate to one another.

These are the value statements — or the “What We Believe” statements — developed from your participation:

  • Teaching and learning are at the center of who we are and all we do.
  • Compassion, creativity, and innovation characterize our culture. 
  • Diversity is our strength.
  • The public good is our responsibility.

With these value statements serving as the touchstones for our further work together, I’m struck by a few observations.

Consider “Diversity is our strength.” Instead of explaining-away as others do their graduation rates or SAT averages by apologizing for shortcomings in their students’ pre-college preparation, we are saying that economic, heritage, ethnic, religious, sexual identity differences among our students are a singular strength. As this value guides us, I see faculty using these differences in their teaching — asking always how can my students’ strengths inform my classroom. I am proud that we have affirmed that we will build on cultural strengths and are curious about differences rather than being afraid of them.

And consider the last point: “The public good is our responsibility.” We have likely hundreds of programs on campus and programs off campus that directly serve our regional neighbors: Health on Wheels, Latino Health Center, our many clinics, campus, and after-school programs, to name just a few. I think we can say confidently that the City of Long Beach and the broader region are better places because we are here.

I won’t go through each one, but I ask you all to consider “Compassion, creativity and innovation characterize our culture.” Here is just one example of compassion. Zachary Martinez let us know that his mother was in hospice and not expected to live until his graduation ceremony.  Outside of my awareness, Jeff Klaus and Dhushy Sathianathan traveled to Anaheim to give Zach his diploma in front of his mom and other family members, complete with regalia and music. That’s how we roll at CSULB, and that’s one more thing that distinguishes us from other universities. I could not be more proud.

The other outcome of this process is that together we have also constructed our strategic priorities. We’ve dreamed big. We’ve enlisted the aid of futurists, had deep, meaningful discussions about who we are, where we’re headed, what our students expect, and how we need and want to engage our many other stakeholders.

Of course these statements are, by design, rather big and perhaps even vague because they are guideposts — not specific actions. But they show us the way for work yet to be done.

And here are those overarching concepts that frame the rest of our planning process:

First, Engage All Students.

  • Notice the word “all.” That’s a big job and there’s no cookbook or single template that will guide students toward their professional and personal life goals. Some of it will happen in the classroom, some in co-curricular activities, and some through students’ involvement with research, service, internships, or leadership opportunities.
  • Also, “Engage students in robust internships, international, service, hands-on learning.” This goal was mentioned so often that, in a Blinding Flash of the Obvious, we’ve already taken steps to implement enhanced action: the Provost has invested resources to give this effort leadership from a well-tested and beloved leader, Dr. Beth Manke.   
    • With Dr. Manke’s help, we need to pull together the many decentralized resources we have in this space into tighter communication networks. No group will lose autonomy and all will gain by information-sharing, best practices, and energetic outreach to government, business, and industry in our region. We must enable our students to experience the world, literally, and the worlds of service, research, creative activities, and particular professions.

Second, Expand Access.

  • We want to deepen our commitment to students’ socioeconomic mobility by removing barriers to success in higher education.
  • CSU was created to be the great intellectual equalizer in California, to offer high-quality education to populations that are often shut out of other universities because of income or location. Promoting access is in our DNA and we’re very good at it. We both graduated and enrolled the two biggest classes in our history in 2019. To continue expanding access will require new approaches and likely new audiences.

Third, Promote Intellectual Achievement.

  • We want to ensure that rigor, relevance, and impact are hallmarks of our campus community.
  • We have a vibrant community now. Can we improve it with more interdisciplinary programs or certificates? More sponsored work that might allow us more time for research and scholarship and give our students access to work on campus?  
  • As a university dedicated to the public good, can we organize research around some of the grand challenges facing our region — for example, water and air quality, poverty, climate change, homelessness — and bring our significant intellectual powers to bear for the public good?

Fourth, Build Community.

  • We want to support a compassionate community that is characterized by a strong sense of belonging and, as I said earlier, shared governance with shared responsibility.
  • Respect, belonging, meaningful opportunities for self and professional development, and positive partnerships are all hallmarks of successful organizations. We need to work in all these areas.

And lastly, Cultivate Resilience.

  • We must implement innovative, entrepreneurial, and forward-looking actions to strengthen the institution and support the aspirations of community members.
  • Resilience means many things — our personal wellness, our planet’s survival, our financial position. In terms of the first meaning, I’ve been inspired by a dedicated group of Beach faculty and staff who worked under enormous time pressure this summer to submit a proposal to the State to access funds to train peer mentors to improve the behavioral health of our campus. If successful, we will offer professional development to large groups of students, Resident Advisors, faculty, and staff in order to create a cadre of specially educated people who can offer education, support, and referrals for anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation or hopelessness as a building block strategy to improve the overall wellness of our campus.
  • The Division of Student Affairs, led by Interim Dean Mary Ann Takemoto; the College of Health and Human Services, led by Dean Monica Lounsbery; Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), directed by Dr. Bong Joo Hwang; and dedicated faculty from across the campus — for example, Dr. Bita Ghafoori — have stepped up to the challenge of creating a new evidence-based model of integrated behavioral and medical health.
  • We’ll be rolling that out in the coming year. The calls for additional mental and physical health resources from Beach 2030 input were so strong that it was clear we should not wait.

Even with these strategic priorities identified, our work is far from done. My call to you today is to again step up and help us complete the process. In the coming months, you will be asked to determine what bold, visionary, concrete steps must be taken to achieve our bold, visionary priorities. 

Our work will carry greater intensity as we convene workgroups around specific programs and projects to operationalize these priorities. I will need your best, most creative ideas! At the same time, more information about financial and space-planning will be shared to ensure a comprehensive approach.

Can we do everything all at once? Obviously, no. But can we ultimately succeed? Absolutely! I have no doubt, and, as president, I know things.  For example, speaking of success, I know that:

  • CSULB continues to make steady progress on its graduation goals for 2025. The four-year graduation rate for first-time freshmen is projected to be 32% (up from 28%), and the six-year rate is projected to be 73% (up from 69%). Both of these rates are historic highs for the campus and evidence remarkable progress compared to three years ago.
  • The two-year graduation rate for transfers is projected to be 42% (up 1%) and the four-year rate is projected to be 86%. These are modest gains compared to previous years.
  • Among all of these gains, the freshmen opportunity gap for PELL and URM is again projected to be below 3% and 6%, respectively. The transfer gap is projected to be below 3% for both categories (2.6% PELL and 2.2% URM). These are historic lows, and a testament to the inclusive strategies our teams have been undertaking to ensure all students make progress.

These successes deserve a round of applause for yourselves.

Indeed, we have made such remarkable progress by working together, recognizing the power and creativity of this community, and recognizing that we must continue to evolve, grow, innovate.

While the future is in many ways an open question, we can be certain that the next decade will bring forces of change that will require adaptation and reinvention: changing work skills, changing technologies and disciplines, changing climate patterns.

How we respond to these new conditions, opportunities, and challenges is very much up to us. This is our chance to break down barriers and rebuild with fresh new ideas. I am counting on your partnership to be sure we’re ready for the inevitable dynamics that either will promote us or deplete us.   

I thank you again for all you have already done to help envision a resilient, successful Cal State Long Beach 11 years from now. We will preserve much of what we do, we’ll create new programs/strategies/partnerships, and we’ll leave some things behind.   

Thank you, and Go Beach! 

Provost's Message

Where We Have Been

This past year has been a wild ride! From the daily news surrounding us nationally to the increased number of students and growth on our campus, we have seen change!  The last few months had left me personally concerned around the direction our nation is heading. All the negative news had taken a toll on me until a reminder walked my way.

I left work that day feeling the heaviness of my job. Ever have one of those days? The weight of the day, honestly, left me feeling bogged down with deadlines, decisions and issues. As I was walking to my car, a man also happened to also be walking in the same direction as me. He caught my eye and paused to tell me something. He remarked, with all the pride and hope his words could fill, that his son had just registered for college. I told him that he must be so proud. Beaming, he said he was.

I knew intuitively that his new start represented so much, not only for his son, but for the whole family. I left feeling a profound sense of purpose and renewed hope. This family was entrusting their precious son to our ‘Beach’ family. I left this interaction grateful for the moment that had just occurred. I felt it…and was reminded of why I work in higher education. I left thankful that I was able to bear witness to this dad’s joy and was reminded that we are in the business of changing lives.

Sometimes we simply experience a part of a student’s journey, other times we can see the whole path. I do know that all of us in this room play an important part in each of our student’s lives. That being said, we also have a tremendous responsibility to our students, to their families and each other. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you all that we are better together, working across divisions, job responsibilities and titles to be successful in our shared mission. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Forgetting our intentions is the most frequent of all acts of stupidity.” Sometimes we need these interactions to center us back to our real purpose.

Now let’s take a moment to reflect back on the year with some highlights from our campus.

Here is where we really shine!

Point of Pride

For those that are new to our campus, you made an excellent choice. We have many points of pride on our campus and have many reasons to celebrate. This past year we have seen tremendous growth, from welcoming the largest cohort ever admitted this fall, to a record number of students applying to our university, and the opening of two new buildings. Here are just a few…

The Division of Administration and Finance launched a redesigned Staff Recognition program entitled “Best of the Beach” and a ‘Roads to Success’ staff development program. They’ve also completed construction on the Student Service Building and Continuing Professional and International Education Building – you will learn more about this. Thank you Vice President Scott Apel for your leadership and navigation with these endeavors.

The Division of University Relations & Development raised nearly $39 million, a new campus record, and accepted a $10-million contribution — one of the largest single gifts ever made to our campus — to create the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum. In addition to that, they’ve completed fundraising for the Anna W. Ngai Alumni Center, a multifunctional space that will help usher in a new era of alumni engagement.  Congratulations to their new team, and their leader, Vice President Michele Cesca.

In the past school year, the Division of Information Technology continued to partner with the campus community to implement the smart campus initiative, including enhancing the student virtual computer lab, expanding the high-performance computing environment for faculty and researchers, and installing smart signage/displays around the campus. Thank you to Dr. Min Yao for his vision and leadership.

The Division of Student Affairs received approval from the Board of Trustees to construct a new residence hall for $104 million as well as a new student center/administration office for $18 million. This effort will result in the first new residence hall in 32 years with 400 additional beds for students to live on campus, Thank you Dr. Mary Ann Takemoto for taking on this crucial role!

All 19 athletic teams in Athletics have exceeded the minimum standard of the NCAA Academic Progress Rate for the 14th year in a row, remaining the only CSU to do so. Six programs won either the regular season or conference championship with our Men’s Volleyball team successfully defending their title as the NCAA National Champions. Congratulations to Athletics Director Andy Fee and his team.

I add my official welcome to President Conoley’s Chief-of-Staff, Dr. Neal Schnoor, whose wise advice and incisive analyses have already added to our University’s leadership team.

CSULB received over 102,000 applications this past year.  According to US News and World Report, we are among the top 10 most applied to universities in the country. We are also the most applied to CSU in the system.  From this large pool, about 6,000 of these are local applicants who meet CSU admission criteria.  All of those were offered admissions to CSULB, in accordance with our iron-clad promise. CSULB recently expanded the Long Beach Promise commitment into the LB Promise 2.0. This new promise provides guaranteed admission to CSULB to students who sign up for the pre-approved criteria at LBCC in 10 of our most popular majors. 

In 2015, CSULB awarded 7,880 bachelor’s degrees.  In 2018, the bachelor’s degrees awarded increased to a new high of 8,986. This increase of 14% (1106 degrees) is the highest increase in CSULB history.

In 2015 CSULB admitted a total of 9,450 students.  In 2019-20, CSULB plans to admit 11,400 students, which is a 20% increase (~ 2,000 students).  This increase in access is a direct result of your success in our signature Graduation Initiative 2025.

Rankings

We topped several prominent lists based on social mobility, degree value, best public institutions as well as celebrated programs and majors, including beating Harvard for 13th place in the nation in 2019 for ‘Best College for your Money’ by Money magazine.

We were recently ranked 13th in the nation in 2019 for ‘Best College for your Money’ by Money magazine.

In 2019, U.S. News and World Report ranked Long Beach as the third-best public college in the western United States. In 2019, Forbes ranked CSU Long Beach as one of America’s best-value colleges for its affordable tuition, quality of education, graduate earnings and low levels of student debt.

Our campus came in second in awarding the most bachelor’s degrees to traditionally underrepresented minorities in the nation according to the 2018 issue of Diverse: Issues in Education.  

WHOO WHEE!

Economic Impact of CSULB

President Conoley commissioned an economic impact report, which proves how our university drives economic impact in the region, which enhanced and benefited our community. A few highlights include:

During the 2016-17 fiscal year, CSU Long Beach generated a total of $561.7 million in output throughout the City of Long Beach, $1.14 billion in output throughout Los Angeles County and $388.5 million throughout Orange County.

CSU Long Beach took in over $4.3 million in contracts from 2016 to 2017 – money that went towards charitable and volunteer activities involving students and faculty.

CSU Long Beach expended a total of $35 million in support of research activities on and off campus.

We are making an impact in the region – and I believe a great deal of this is based on you. Your individual success shows up with these campus-wide ‘points of pride.’ Your dedication to our students, as well as your passion to better our communities, brings me joy. I am grateful that I get to work alongside a team of dedicated individuals with a common goal and purpose in mind.

Going forward we have several goals, dreams and visions that we want to see realized. One is our core tenet ‘diversity is our strength.’ This past fall chairs, faculty, administrators and staff came together to initiate and establish a clear goal and plan to increase faculty diversity on our campus.

This committee created immediate, medium and long-term objectives to accomplish the ambitious plan. Over the next few months and years, Academic Affairs will execute a pipeline, recruitment and retention model to increase faculty diversity. Indeed, we are looking forward to hiring more than 60 new tenure-track faculty to campus in the 2019 – 2020 A.Y.

New Buildings

As I mentioned before, we opened up two new buildings and brought together several units to better serve our students. I am proud to say that this work was done by collaboratively joining forces across divisions, such as our partnership with DAF to share resources. We reduced duplication and worked together as one team. The College of Professional and International Education’s (now known as CPIE) newest building, entirely non-state funded, opened its doors to our campus this past fall. This three-story, 35,000-square-foot facility, with 20 main classrooms, became a valuable resource to our students.  It is also a certified energy-neutral LEED Platinum® status, which means the structure produces an equal amount of energy to what it consumes.

Another redesigned building, this time on the state-side, was the Student Success Center (SSC) which opened its doors this past March. The SSC has become a one-stop shop to, again, better serve our students, especially the ones who need specific resources. This newly recreated space is home to UCUA, the Bob Murphy Access Center, formerly known as Disabled Student Services, the Learning Center, the BUILD grant, the Women’s Gender & Equity Center and several more units. The center also offers open lab and studio spaces for students and researchers. This is again a great example of Academic Affairs working together with Student Affairs.

California is now offering all graduating seniors from California high schools two years of free tuition at community colleges, so universities have seen the numbers of freshman applicants go down at many four-year institutions. What we have seen go up is the number of transfer applications.

What this means for our campus is the need for an increase in dedicated resources and programs for our transfer students. This fall our Beach Transfer Transition Center became a reality. This new center provides a space specifically to meet the needs of our transfer students. These students can ask questions, identify their concerns and gain support while on campus.

Faculty Center

One tangible plan is the newly renovated faculty center.This reinvigorated and reimagined center will focus on faculty advancement and professional learning. Under the leadership of its new Director, Dr. Malcolm Finney, it will establish a comprehensive faculty professional development program that assists faculty members to be productive and satisfied teachers, scholars and contributing members of the university community.One topic that will be explored is how social and cultural factors affect faculty work with students and with colleagues. Bottom-line, we want this center to truly support our faculty so they have everything they need to succeed inside and outside the classroom.

Future Projects:

CSULB Downtown Village, located between Promenade North and Long Beach Boulevard, plans to add to our ability to educate the workforce of the future, through programs offered by CPIE, in a convenient downtown location.  The project, a partnership with Mayor Robert Garcia and the city, establishes for the first time our university presence downtown.

With hard work from URD, the University Art Museum has been renamed the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, or the Kleefeld Contemporary for short.  Kleefeld, known for her highly acclaimed paintings and poetry, gifted 120 of her original works as well as $10 million to the museum. This large permanent gift, known as the Kleefeld Collection, has helped spotlight our incredible campus art museum.

WASC

This next year we have several crucial initiatives events that our campus is focusing on. The first is our WASC reaccreditation, with a site visit planned in October 2020. The second one is our continuing Beach 2030 strategic plan rollout. These two key activities will run separately, yet be intertwined to create key partnerships that will benefit our campus. When you walked in this morning, you should have received a WASC post-it note and a Beach 2030 pin. Our hope is that these two items will serve as a reminder.

 How many of you are familiar with WASC?  Do you know what it stands for? It is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Do you know what it is? Could you explain what WASC was to someone else? We asked some students, and here are their answers:

I appreciate this video simply because it illuminates what our students don’t know. This also shows that we have our work cut out for us. Over the next year our campus will need to document how our programs, departments and academic support programs provide our students with what we say we provide, namely highly-valued degrees. Basically, we get a chance to evaluate that what we do is most effective to ensure student success.

 

As a campus, we use many metrics and assessments that need to be completed to prepare for our visit. This is where you come in. Want to know more about WASC? Visit our campus WASC website to learn more. Once you know, share this with other faculty, staff, and students. If your job or area has been a part of the process, thank you for your input, time, dedication and service. This will be an all-hands on deck project when the review team comes on campus.

Last fall, we had the rare opportunity for everyone interested in CSULB to participate in Imagine, the Beach 2030 campus-wide strategic plan. We asked, and you answered. Here is a breakdown of some stats during Imagine: 

  • Over the course of two days, 3,600 people participated, contributing more than 24,000 ideas.
  • A wide cross-section of the CSULB community lent their voices to this conversation about the future of the university.
  • Almost half of the participants were undergrads, while almost 30 % were staff and faculty.

What Has Been Happening Since Imagine Beach 2030?

All the data, ideas and discussions that Imagine produced, led to division-wide workshops to help digest the content. From these workshops our campus established and formed institutional-level priorities and planning areas.  These will now be rolled out this September – June 2020. President Conoley will discuss more about this – our future.

 

Final Thoughts

I do enjoy moments like these where we have the opportunity to boast about all that we are proud of. I also appreciate the time we can come together as a campus community to reconnect and refocus as we start the New Year.

 

Podcast with the Provost

Kicking off this fall will be my new podcast series called, ‘Podcast with the Provost.’ I am chatting with leaders across campus to discuss their leadership and ideas. I believe that these podcasts will give us all an opportunity to learn more about the deep bench of talent we have on our campus. We have truly impressive and passionate leaders that I think you will enjoy learning more about. Check out the Provost’s Message for more information. 

We have something in CSULB we can all be proud of. Thank you for all that you do to educate, inspire, and come alongside the next generation of students. What we do is so desperately needed in our community, state and country. My chance meeting with that proud father in the parking lot was the reminder I needed—though we’re a diverse and ever-changing campus, what we do directly impacts the lives of our students, their families and our state and nation.  And in turn, they become our family too. I felt a sense of renewed commitment to providing the best education and student experience I can, and I hope you do too. I remain thankful that our one campus, with unified goals and missions in mind, is a shining light in the darkness that surrounds us. We are one ‘Beach’ family, and together, we have the power to create change.

Go Beach!

Academic Senate Chair's Remarks

Thank you Provost Jersky for that introduction! My name is Jessica Zacher Pandya, and I am a Professor in, and Department Chair of, the Liberal Studies Department in the College of Education. You may know this campus as “Cal State Long Beach” or “the Beach;” “Cal State Puvungna” is another one of its names. Puvungna is often translated as “the Gathering Place.”  As we gather today I acknowledge that we are part of a continuum of gathering at this site of reflection, learning and celebration.

I’m here today in my role as the Chair of our Academic Senate. Our university’s Academic Senate is a bit different than some that are faculty-only; our members include faculty, staff, students, and administrators. I became interested in the Senate many years ago because I wanted to know how people really made decisions on campus, and how I could be part of that process.  You might be wondering why I’m up here with the provost and president. Like campuses across the nation, ours has a tradition of sharing the governance of the work we do; the Senate is the main shared governance body. Making decisions together, collegially--even while arguing--is what we do, and that matters here. That means that the Senate Chair gets a spot on our convocation program.

The senate itself is a group of about 80 elected members who make and refine our campus policies. If you’re interested in knowing more about the policies behind your grade, or your instructor’s office hours or assigned textbooks; about how a program becomes a department; how a dean gets reviewed; or about what kinds of awards the campus gives each year, come to us! There is one exception; If you have any questions about parking policies, I would recommend emailing the president! Otherwise, we in the Senate—and I do mean we, all of us—make policies on your behalf.

To some extent, the Senate’s cycle of work is ongoing: policies and degree proposals wend their way through various committees, make their way to the Senate floor, and are edited and voted on on the floor. Last year, in addition, we participated in the campus’ Beach 2030 strategic planning efforts. This meant that, like other units on campus, we were required to stop and think about what goals we as a body have beyond just the current year; in other words, we had a chance to think about and create a shared vision for the next decade.

Creating a vision for a policy-making body was something we hadn’t done before. After a lot of consultation and negotiation, the Academic Senate arrived at three themes that we hope will guide our work in the coming years: Community, communication, and compassion. Although we have barely begun, and although we will share the responsibility for these three themes with many folks on campus, the senate has some plans in relation to each theme already. 

What can a shared governance organization like the Academic Senate do to foster community in our very large institution? What does it mean to support a work community where people enjoy working and learning, where we associate our jobs with...pleasure? On an interpersonal level, this means thinking about how we talk to each other in our daily committee routines. I’m hoping that, as we debate policies around our campus’s unique graduation requirements, we’re able to communicate our concerns and needs collegially. 

More concretely, we as a Senate aim to analyze our policies, looking for how they might foster or be inimical to a greater sense of community on campus. For instance, some of our committees include few or no lecturer faculty members, yet these colleagues, who teach many of our classes, should be better represented. We’re aiming to find places where representation is unequal and then change policy accordingly.

Our communication efforts should be pretty immediately visible to campus community members who are on social media, since we are now on facebook, twitter, and instagram. Even if us slightly older senators don’t all have twitter handles yet--or, actually, even know what those are--we are going to explore using social media to communicate with you about our work. 

You’ll see some photos from this very event on Instagram, as soon as I figure it out, and I hope you’re inspired to go online and share your thoughts about the Senate and the University with us. We are going to continue to spend our energy and attention planning our annual fall retreat and spring lecture, events to which you all are invited, and at which we eat, drink, talk about, and try to improve, the state of the university. We want to make sure all members of the campus community are aware of decisions that affect their work lives, and ultimately we invite interested campus community members to join the Senate in its policymaking.

Finally, we are trying our best to do our work with compassion. We’re aiming here to strengthen our sense of community, and our pleasure in our work. We are also aiming to remind ourselves, and each other, that we live in unpredictable, volatile times, and that we are lucky to be here, working with the students we work with, contributing to our local and larger communities. We do this in our teaching, our learning, our advocacy, our leadership, and our daily jobs. As your senate chair, I’m aiming for compassion and kindness in my dealings with everyone on campus—and I’d be happy to have your help! 

So these are our goals: community, communication, and compassion.  The Senate represents you, and works for you, so please feel free to attend meetings (check our website for details!), ask questions, learn more about our work, and tell us and your representatives what you need in order to enjoy being part of our community here at CSULB. Thank you.

ASI President's Remarks

Good morning, everyone. Thank you Provost Jerskey for the introduction and a special thank you to President Conoley for the invitation to address you all today.

As mentioned earlier, my name is Lizbeth Velasquez and I have the honor of serving as this year’s ASI president. I want to share with you all about the labor of those who got me here and how vital each of our roles can be in shaping the success of students. I am a proud Latina whose roots are of Mexican decent. My mother, like many before her, came to this country with the great hope that she would have a family and they would have a better life than the one she had in her pueblo. After immigrating here at the age of 14, she began working in the garment factories in Los Angeles. My father, with similar ambitions, worked under strenuous conditions in construction labor – they both worked hard so that their children could achieve more in life.

As a girl from East LA, I grew up in a community where we often experienced gun violence and understood far too well what it meant to lack access to basic resources, much less safe spaces. I grew up feeling I would not accomplish many great things in life, and though I was fortunate to have had the support of my family, I knew resources were not abundant. As I recall my childhood, I was constantly on the search for a sanctuary space free of guns, drugs, and hostile law enforcement. Despite our surroundings, today I am proud to say that I stand before you as an advocate for student needs – and it is because of my parents’ diligence, dedication and constant support, that I am a person with a passion for civil and community service.

As I hope my story has displayed, I know well the impact that promoting a community and culture that are open and safe for marginalized groups can have on a person’s life. A culture that accepts students for who they are and does not stigmatize them. When I first came to Long Beach State I was confused – unsure about what I was going to do with my life. But, similar to the impact being surrounded by a loving family had on me, the resources and guidance offered by the folks here helped me find my place. I am a product of what being surrounded by an inclusive culture can achieve. And I am calling on us all to continue to empower those still in need of guidance to stand for their beliefs and know that Long Beach State will be a foundation to continue their growth, both while here and beyond.

In today’s climate we witness the constant fear marginalized populations are subjected to. We witness the lack of support they receive from many of those in our government. And we too often witness people preach hate, rather than acceptance, love and support. It is in times like these that I believe we must ask ourselves “what difference can we make to improve the lives for our students?” It is that question that motivates me.

After the 2016 elections I had a strong desire to help those who felt lost in the legal system. I wanted to build what I felt I was lacking in my youth, so I joined AmeriCorps with the hopes of making a difference through JusticeCorps. While there, we helped self-represented litigants obtain legal education at the Long Beach Courthouse. In these efforts I learned more about the needs of CSULB students which has informed one of my chief goals: to bring a free legal clinic to campus for students in need.

We know that more than 70% of our students receive financial aid and many of them do not have the ability to fully pay tuition, much less legal representation. I believe a program like this, and others like it, will help break the barriers marginalized groups, and those who disproportionality face economic obstacles, confront. In the same vein, one of our other chief goals this year is to work with campus leadership to explore and implement automatic voter registration through our class registration portal, so that all students who want to make a difference politically – CAN. I ask you all to put yourself in the position of today’s students and work with ASI this year to make these goals a reality.

I believe these concepts follow in the footsteps of some of CSULB’s great successes. We must continue our efforts to expand the resources for the Dream Success Center, for the ASI Beach Pantry, for our basic needs initiatives, for scholarships, and most importantly for the equitable education of students who come from underrepresented populations. When we provide services and educate with empathy and not merely sympathy we begin to create a culture of a collective good.

It is my vision that for the future of this campus that we continue to embrace inclusive diversity, that our Black and African American students feel at home, for the Latinx population to feel they can walk with their heads held high, for the LGBTQ+ community to know we are proud of them and stand beside them, and for women to feel safe, supported, and empowered – no matter their surroundings or circumstance.

Thank you all for the opportunity to address you today. My story, although unique to myself, is not much different than the experiences of many other students. As we take our first steps into our strategic plan, keep the struggles and efforts made by our students in the forefront of your minds. Let their dreams and determination guide you.

And as always Go Beach!

CSULB Staff Council Chair's Remarks

Kristin Bonetati – CSULB Staff Council Chair

Thank you Provost Jersky and good morning Cal State Long Beach!

I’m Kristin Bonetati the Chair of Staff Council and I appreciate this opportunity to help welcome you all to a new year!

I see a lot of new faces today, so a little about me if I haven’t met you yet. I went to San Francisco State to become a teacher like my parents. I got my degree in Humanities which basically means I know a little bit about a lot of things, like culture, history, literature, art …but not a lot about any ONE thing. 

I like to think of Humanities as a very inclusive major and also, I am very comfortable making small talk at parties.

But something happened between classes and the swim team – I got a temporary cashier job at the campus bookstore and I loved it.

I was making (wait for it) $3.35 an hour, just enough to pay my annual tuition of (pause) $679 (I know, right?) and have a little left over.  I loved that the bookstore was non-profit and we gave back to the campus.  I loved the textbook discount.  I also loved that basically everyone on campus would come through the bookstore at some point during the year and it was a great way to meet folks from all walks of life.

Fast-forward 30 (mumble mumble) years later – I’m now at another great non-profit bookstore here at Cal State Long Beach.  I love Long Beach because it has the diversity and inclusiveness that makes for a wonderful institution and an amazing place to work. We all work together to make sure that our students have a great college experience.

Working at a non-profit organization like the 49er Shops means that we have the opportunity to give back every day and be a resource for the campus. The 49er Shops includes not just the bookstore but also:

Residence hall and campus dining

ID Cards

Copy/Print

and all the convenience stores on campus.

The 49er Shops donates to and supports many programs on campus including the Student Emergency Fund, Athletics, Course Material Scholarships and the Feed a Need program. As you can tell, I love my job!

I would also like to take a moment to give a shout out to some of the departments who help our faculty and administration make Cal State Long Beach the Top School in the Western Region.

  • The facilities team that keeps our buildings clean and repaired
  • The landscaping team working hard to maintain our beautiful grounds
  • The SOAR orientation team who welcomes all our new students
  • Staff HR making sure everyone gets a paycheck
  • ATS and ITS who keep us connected.
  • And Parking and Transportation, who are absolutely essential in helping us on campus

There are so many other units who make our campus a great place to work and representatives from all these divisions make up all our Staff Council.

Staff Council’s role is to share information and improve communication throughout the campus.  And honestly, we bring staff together who normally may not cross paths.  We also show appreciation and gratitude for these folks who work hard every day by having events during the year. As Staff Council Chair, I have been so grateful this past year to meet and work with so many devoted employees and am very proud of the work we do.  Our summer staff day event, the Halloween Spooktacular and the Cherishing the Children Toy Drive are a few of the ways we bring staff together and give back to the community. 

For those staff in the audience today, if you’re not on Staff Council or you don’t currently have someone representing your area, please let me know and I’ll send you the details! (gimme a call!)

It is such a pleasure to be here this morning and have the opportunity to brag about our staff. The 2000+ dedicated staff at Cal State Long Beach are what holds our campus together and keeps it running smoothly. I just want to take a moment today to thank our staff on campus and let’s have a great new year!

 

Go Beach!