Good morning and welcome to the 2012 Annual Convocation. Thank you for being here today. It's good to see you all here.
President Alexander has often said that the campus has two front porches – the arts and athletics. As a bonus for those of you who are attending today, we have a few door prizes to give away for our two front porches. Through the generosity of the Carpenter Performing Arts Center and Athletics, we have two pair of tickets to give away to events at the Carpenter Center and two Athletic Fun Packs that have pairs of tickets to nine separate athletic events. These are going to be given away based on seat number. That is, I am going to call out four seats – if you are sitting in that seat or can move to that seat if its empty, you get the tickets. The seats were pre-selected, not knowing who would be sitting in which seats. We will hold the tickets in front for the winners to pick up right after the conclusion of Convocation. So, call out and raise your hand if you are a winner.
Here we go – first, two tickets to the CPAC presentation of the world-famous Kronos String Quartet, performing Sun Rings, a piece commissioned by NASA. Sun Rings combines actual intergalactic sounds, a multi-media display, and a live choir, which will be the University Choir directed by Jonathan Talberg. Seat # K16. The second pair of CPAC tickets are for a performance of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet - #H9. The first athletic fun pack is for seat F 41. The second Fun Pack goes to Sea N 13. Our thanks to Michele Roberge, Executive Director of the CPAC and Vic Cegles, Director of Athletics for their generosity.
OK, back to work.
Today, you will hear several themes from President Alexander, Academic Senate Chair Dan O'Connor and me. These include:
You will hear more about these important issues and the year ahead later this morning.
Before that, I have the honor and privilege to acknowledge some of the amazing people with us today who play crucial roles in making this institution work.
First, our Vice Presidents. Please stand when your name is called. Please hold your applause until the Vice-Presidents have been introduced.
My respect for VPs Robinson, Stephens, and Taylor grows each year that I have the good fortune of working with them, especially in the difficult economic environment we continue to face. They bring a high level of service orientation, experience, talent and dedication to the service of CSULB. Please join me in a round of applause for our Vice Presidents.
Next I would like to introduce Academic Affairs Senior Staff
Please join me in recognizing these campus leaders.
CSULB is most fortunate to have a group of very talented and dedicated deans – my colleagues for whom I have so much respect and admiration. They are an outstanding group of campus leaders.
Please hold your applause until all the deans have been introduced.
I would also like to recognize some very special guests. Again, please hold your applause.
On behalf of the university, our thanks to each of you for your commitment to the success of our students and this campus. Please join me in recognizing these campus leaders.
In the last few years, the number of new faculty hired on this campus and on campuses across the county has been many fewer than the number who have retired. That means that the competition for best faculty is significant. We are very fortunate to be able to welcome 26 new faculty members this year. Having already had the opportunity to meet and talk with them, I know this is an exceptional group of instructors, scholars and creative artists who will most certainly have a positive and lasting impact on campus. Each year as we welcome the new faculty to our campus we can say that the faculty at CSULB is stronger than the year before. This is the case again this year. Will the new faculty please stand and be recognized.
Now it is my great pleasure to introduce a dynamic and visionary leader whose commitment to the success of our students and our university is demonstrated each day.
A national leader known for his advocacy of national and state policies that ensure public higher education is affordable and accessible for all students.
King Alexander is not yet 50 years old and is in his 11th year as a university President, his 7th year at CSULB. (I'm not feeling old, but the year I began my first tenure-track appointment as a music faculty member, King Alexander was entering the 3rd grade.) And, as many students and faculty in this room can attest, he is a former college basketball player who can still drive to the hoop and is pretty deadly at shooting 3's.
Please join me in welcoming President F. King Alexander who will recognize our Presidential Scholars and their families...
California State University is a university of Distinction; a university that makes a difference. It makes a difference in the lives of our current 35,000 students, it made a difference in the lives of our 275,000 alumni and it makes a difference in this community, this state and beyond.
Each year, as part of these remarks, the Provost shares a few of the hundreds of distinctions, accomplishments, recognitions and honors received by this campus, its students and faculty, in the previous year. It is my privilege to share with you a few of these now. Please know that the entire list will be available in the Academic Affairs Annual Report which will be available online very soon.
California State University, Long Beach continued to receive national recognition for its academic accomplishments from both faculty and students, its value and efforts to ensure students succeed. In the last year, 2011-12, CSULB was recognized as:
Last year, CSULB was once again recognized as being "Among the Nation's Best" CSULB was ranked as:
CSULB continues to be recognized for the diversity of its people and their success. In the last year, was ranked:
At CSULB, starting with the President, we have a commitment to student success. In advising centers, college and department offices, classrooms and throughout campus, we remain focused on our mission – graduating students with highly valued degrees. We can be proud of what we accomplished together.
As part of ongoing efforts to improve student preparedness, the CSU implemented Early Start at all 23 campuses this summer. CSULB's inaugural Early Start program proved very successful.1,529 students registered for Early Start math and writing courses and over 98 percent successfully fulfilled the Early Start requirement.
Despite continuing budget challenges, college and university advisors worked hard to meet growing student demands for academic advising. In addition to the thousands of hours faculty members devoted to advising and mentoring students, university and college student services professionals met with a record number of students last year in workshops and one-on-one appointments—serving more than 40,000 students.
With the support of faculty and staff, our students achieved tremendous success in pursuits outside of the classroom. Here we highlight a few of their achievements.
2011-12 was an exceptional year for research, scholarly and creative activity. CSULB faculty and staff were awarded a total of more than $49 million – a University record for external funding.
Of the 328 proposals submitted, 198 were funded - a 62 percent success rate.At this time of funding frugality we received nearly 57 percent of the total funding requested - significantly higher than at any other time in our history.These figures are impressive but what really matters is not the amount, but the impact that this external funding has in support of our mission. Direct support for Scholarships, Stipends, and Tuition/Fees allocated from grant awards amounted to more than $4.8 million with an additional $2.2 million allocated to Student Salaries & Wages.
In his state of the Union address back in January, President Obama confirmed his commitment to improve Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education over the next decade, stating that the decline in US competitiveness in science and technology was a national crisis and a governmental priority.
Our faculty responded to this national call and this year were awarded over $7.8 million in support of STEM initiatives, a significant proportion targeted to increase competitiveness of minorities and under-served students. Among the awards received was:
Four faculty members were recognized for excellence in research, scholarly and creative activity at the University Achievement Awards and Celebration of Instruction, Research, Creative Activity and Service.
Whether it was providing students with service learning opportunities, bringing people together to discuss critical issues or helping people improve their lives, CSULB remained committed to making a difference in 2011-12.
That is a long list of incredible accomplishment and recognition. The scope and reach of this institution is broad and far-reaching. Please give yourselves and your colleagues and our students a round of applause in recognition of these accomplishments.
Now, I'll take a few minutes to reflect on the year past and talk about the year and years ahead.
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 in 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. And we know that much about our future is uncertain.
In the year ahead, our Two Prime Academic Priorities are unchanged:
This campus has placed student success as Job #1 for many years. We understand that Student Success is a university effort – it is everyone's job. Over the past decade, CSULB's graduation rates have doubled while our diversity has increased.
During the last year, our Highly Valued Degree Initiatives (HVDI), was again led by Vice Provost Dave Dowell and Associate Vice President Lynn Mahoney. They worked with the five task forces, with representation and leadership from Academic Affairs and Student Services, to identify the best practices and strategies to put us on a path of continuous improvement. In HVDI we continue to use data, not anecdote, to guide our planning and strategizing. We thank Van Novack and his outstanding team for being such reliable partners in this important work. On behalf of Dave and Lynn, we offer our deep appreciation to the deans and department chairs who continue to make student success a priority.
This year, under the leadership of David Dowell, the campus created a new plan for admission that will better link academic preparation with admission to a specific major. Some elements of this new admission plan will be effective in Fall 2013. This linking of academic preparation and desired major at entry promises to significantly improve graduation rates for our students. Thanks to Associate Vice President Tom Enders for bringing his expertise – and a lot of hard work – to this essential initiative. Tom and his staff have to do a lot of the heavy lifting to make this happen.
Our Second Academic 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. Faculty need support in the classroom, in their research, scholarly and creative activity, and in service. As mentioned earlier, this year our faculty brought in over $49m in grants and contracts, the highest in our history. We must continue to grow the number of faculty applying and receiving grant support and bring additional resources to our campus which not only impact the professional standing of our faculty but have a direct impact on the classroom, on the education received by our students. Being successful in this area is critical to our future.
How do we move forward knowing that our financial realities have forced us to reduce much of the support for student success initiatives, support for faculty, support for staff, and that we have fewer people on campus to do the work.
Maybe I follow Winston Churchill's statement; he said:
"I am an optimist because the alternative is so bleak.
There is a bit of good news. Knowing that our funding sources are so uncertain, in RPP, our budget planning process, we were very cautious in our financial commitments. Our transition to the "new normal" which, means a permanent lower funding level is being made easier because in previous years we saved money which afforded the campus a "softer landing" last year and this year. This strategy affords us more time to plan and to know the impact on our state funding as a result the two Initiatives on the November Ballot.
Through RPP the campus planned for its portion of a system wide $200m reduction in funding. Late last spring, due to the state collecting less revenue in taxes and other fees than anticipated (I cannot recall at time in the last 25 years that revenues have actually been higher than anticipated) a state budget was passed that increased the CSU reduction from $200m to $250m system-wide. That's an added $5m for our campus. This news came after RPP had finished its work for the year. No decision had been made regarding how we would manage this additional reduction. In the last few weeks, several things have happened to make this situation a bit easier.
The first of good news is that the team of Dave Dowell and Tom Enders once again did an incredible job working with the Enrollment Management Team in weighing a multiplicity of factors to calculate our enrollments. The number of students on campus is what we planned for but not what we budget for. We were cautious. Simply put, more students means more funding.
The second bit of good news is that in closing the books last month, our campus's cautious and careful planning has resulted in a greater than anticipated carry-over. That is, we have a bit more money than we planned. Between the added enrollments and the "found money" the campus can cover centrally the added $5 million reduction that is CSULB's added share of the $250 million reduction. This means we are not anticipating any further reductions to division, college, and department budgets. In addition, we can provide some relief for other announced reductions. In consultation including the President and the leadership of the Divisions, it has been decided that we will use some of this funding to:
This news also makes it easier for the campus to move forward with the renovations to three of our buildings, LA 2-3-4, which produce 40% of the FTES on this campus. Another important initiative for the campus centers on the use and impact of technology. Through the excellent partnership between Academic Affairs and Administration and Finance, led by Roman Kochan and Janet Foster, we are making the strategic decisions that will allow the campus to deliver essential services in the most efficient and less expensive manner. In addition, in response to issues raised at last fall's Academic Senate Retreat on Technology, a university task force on Technology, marvelously led by Terre Allen, Director of the Faculty Center for Professional Development, has drafted a plan, entitled Vision 2016 that has outlined a vision and mission for technology on campus. This document is ready to be shared, evaluated and debated as a guideline to the future of technology on campus.
As we move forward, we have significant assets and strengths that will we will continue to build on:
A university can only be as strong as its alumni and friend allow it to be. We must be very aware that people, even our friends who know us well, give to winners. They give to excitement. They give to something special and important. They give to support students. They give to support their alma mater. If we allow ourselves to be negative and downcast with our friends, it will lead to diminished outside support. That does not mean we cannot speak of the difficulties that result from dramatically reduced state support, but we must leave interactions with our friends and donors with a sense of optimism – that all is not lost. We need the emotional and financial support of our alumni and friends now more than ever. Thanks to the leadership in the Division of University Relations and Development and the college Directors of Development and Development Coordinators for their important work.
In closing, we begin a new academic year amid one of the worst budget realities we have ever faced. For this incredible collection of people, programs, and priorities, created over the last 63 years, this very special place called California State University Long Beach, the future is very uncertain. As we have said the last few years, this is certainly not business as usual. But here we are. Despite the serious economic situation and the impact this has on each one of us in this room and on our campus, we are here ready to do our work. Despite the uncertainty, we are here still excited about the year ahead. We are here because we deeply believe in the mission of this institution and the CSU, we deeply believe that education is the key to a better future for everyone in this state and beyond, and we deeply believe that without a well-supported and valued education system – K through Ph. D – the future of all of us is in jeopardy.
We are here because we have students to teach, research, scholarship, and art to create, and service to provide on our campus, in this community, and beyond. We are here because we believe in something greater than ourselves. We are here because what we do matters. We are here because we all know that what we do here has impact beyond this performing arts center, this campus, this city and region, and this state. The listing of incredible accomplishments, recognitions, and honors that you heard earlier is what we do here. It is who we are. These are facts, not hyperbole. When you graduate 9000 students a year, well prepared to create a life, and when you have 275,000 alumni it is clear that what we do on this campus matters. We change and impact communities. We change lives.
I am honored to serve this campus as Provost. Despite all our issues and anxieties, I can think of no place I'd rather be, no job I'd rather have, than this one. Because like almost all of you, I work at CSULB a great public university.
Thank you for your kind attention this morning.