President’s Address – 2023 CSUSB Convocation
Thursday, August 17, 2023
I am delighted to see so many joining us as we begin the 2023-24 academic year here at Cal State San Bernardino.
I would especially like to welcome the many new faces joining our campus, in particular the additions to our faculty, staff and administration. Each of you brings an impressive array of knowledge and experience to our vibrant community. I am glad you are here at CSUSB.
I would like to add that I am very proud to welcome 40 new faculty! We are delighted to have you join us!
We also welcome our undergraduate and graduate students. They range from newcomers getting their initial taste of Coyote life to those entering their final months as they work toward their CSUSB graduation.
2022-23 was another year of achievements and moving our university forward.
Our Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program continued its preparations for accepting its first class in the fall 2025 semester and anticipates achieving Accreditation-Provisional status in March 2025. We appreciate the $2 Million in support we received through the efforts of Congressional Representative Pete Aguilar and California Senator Alex Padilla along with the $14.3 Million secured by California State Senator Richard Roth.
As part of our strategic plan, our commitment to internationalization remains strong. And we have been making progress in this area.
CSUSB signed an MOU with Lviv Polytechnic University in Ukraine. I had the honor to travel to Cracow Poland this past May, to formalize the agreement. We have a vision to be a significant player in the re-building of Ukraine. By joining forces, our two esteemed institutions aim to create an environment that fosters innovation, nurtures talent and expands horizons for students and faculty alike in an increasingly interconnected world.
While our Education Abroad numbers have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, in reviewing the data from the last two academic years, overall participation grew by almost 62%. As we all well know, participation in Education Abroad programs helps students earn higher GPAs, improve language skills, increase their employability and build career skills.
And both of our campuses have been busy with building projects. They include:
- Baseball and Softball Fields,
- Our latest Energy Saving Initiative,
- The future home for our MSPA program,
- The Performing Arts Center,
- The Palm Desert Campus Student Services Center,
- And our Housing Project partnership.
As the last academic year wrapped up, we had some sobering news about the 2023-24 California State budget. As I stated in my message to the campus in May:
- The economic outlook remains uncertain as the State’s deficit was projected at $31.5 Billion in May, an increase from January’s projection of $22.5 Billion.
- The CSU’s budget augmentation remains unchanged from January’s figure, per the fiscal year 2022-23 Compact, of $227.3 Million.
The Cabinet and I have worked over the summer with all university divisions, including all the academic colleges, to address the budget deficit.
- We are currently not planning on furloughs or layoffs. That has not changed since I last communicated with you.
- We will continue to meet with the University Budget Advisory Committee.
- And we will be scheduling a budget open forum this fall to give details of the California State budget and its impact on our campus.
For the past several years, during Convocation we have reflected on our achievements through the lens of our strategic plan. These goals and objectives have framed our efforts since the previous plan was implemented in the fall of 2015.
This year, I wish to focus on where we are with two major campus initiatives, which were launched at last year’s Convocation. Our new 2023-28 strategic plan, which will shape our work and efforts across all segments of the university and the ongoing Our Defining Moment: The Campaign for CSUSB. Its success will also have a tremendous impact on how we are able to grow and serve our students and our region.
Our 2023-28 Strategic Plan launches this fall! My thanks to task force co-chairs Dr. Kelly Campbell, interim vice provost for academic affairs, and Dr. Nicole Dabbs, professor and chair of kinesiology, along with members of the steering committee and work groups. And thanks to the entire campus community for your participation.
Our new Strategic Plan’s thematic goal areas are:
- Student Success,
- Faculty and Staff Success,
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or DEI, and
For Student Success, the current planned objectives are:
- Acknowledge and value students’ cultural, linguistic and social identities;
- Transform students’ understanding of self as agents in a global society; and
- Empower students to apply competencies that enrich their communities.
For Faculty and Staff Success, the current planned objectives are:
- Ensure equitable and efficient work;
- Promote a culture of trust and safety that values and integrates human differences and cares for the holistic well-being of staff and faculty; and
- Enhance pathways and guidance for professional advancement.
For DEI, the current planned objectives are:
- Uphold an unwavering commitment to an enduring diverse, equitable and inclusive environment;
- Strengthen our culture of belonging, acceptance and appreciation for the unique characteristics and contributions of all students, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators; and
- Promote and support a campus environment that values and affirms human rights and protections for all members of our community.
And for Internationalization, the current planned objectives include:
- Enhance global learning opportunities for the campus community;
- Expand student, faculty and staff participation in education abroad programs; and
- Grow, diversify and engage the international student body.
Each objective will come with planned outcomes and the proposed strategies to achieve them. This will keep our engagement with the strategic plan fresh and ongoing and will allow us to assess our progress at the conclusion of each academic year and adjust, as necessary.
In sum, flexibility and accountability are once again built into our strategic plan, just as they were with the former plan implemented in 2015.
Supported by the campaign protocols established by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education or CASE—the leader in educational advancement—last fall we launched the public phase of our $200 Million blended comprehensive campaign. This is the first fully blended campaign ever launched by a public institution of higher education in the United States.
By “blended,” I mean, we are seeking investment from alumni, friends and corporate and foundation partners, along with revenue from sources not typically included in comprehensive campaigns, such as government agencies and tribal nations, which will leverage the impact of overall support.
I am proud to state that we have achieved our overall goal of raising $200 million already!
However, we are still short of meeting our full philanthropic goal.
For those of you wondering about the connection between the campaign and our budget deficit: the deficit is an operational funding issue and donor funds are not used for operational expenses.
As you may recall, Our Defining Moment is organized around four pillars:
- Increase student success, diversity and experience through scholarships;
- Attract and retain world-class faculty;
- Improve and transform the Inland Empire through programs and research; and
- Capital construction to build innovative facilities, smart classrooms and creative spaces.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate that this $200 million milestone was achieved and surpassed thanks to the invaluable support of our university’s exceptional faculty and staff, dedicated friends and loyal alumni. Your unwavering belief in CSUSB’s vision has had a profound impact on its future, enabling us—as a higher educational institution here in the IE—to deliver outstanding academic and transformative experiences to our students.
We are working towards meeting and even exceeding our philanthropic goal. The campaign will therefore remain active until June 30, 2026, providing further opportunities for growth and expansion of its objectives. Look for more details this fall on how the campaign is progressing.
I want to take a moment to highlight the vital role that CSUSB graduates play right here in the Inland Empire. Seventy-five percent of our alumni live and contribute to the IE’s development. They range from an alumna who is the publisher of one of the leading Black newspapers in the U.S. to an alumnus whose work in the entertainment industry includes being a successful screenwriter, narrative designer and creative executive (at both film studios and in the gaming industry) to an alumnus who leads a multi-county network to alums who founded a winery in Temecula to alums who founded a chain of pharmacies. And both county superintendents of schools are alumni! And we can’t forget the business world, as we have alums who lead major economic initiatives like IEEP. And alums involved at the leadership level ranging from national organizations to global financial organizations. And we especially can’t forget our faculty and staff who are alumni as well.
CSUSB Coyotes are everywhere, making a difference each and every day.
So I am proud to announce that we will be holding our inaugural all-campus Alumni Hall of Fame celebration early in the Spring Semester. There is so much to celebrate in being a Coyote this academic year!
I want to conclude today by reminding us all of what it means to be a citizen of Cal State San Bernardino. Regardless of our efforts on campus to be more intentional in diversity, equity and inclusion, the world outside our doors continues to move in ways which do not necessarily accord with our university’s inclusive values.
Nevertheless, as members of the CSUSB community, we state that:
- The singling out of any community or group for scapegoating is completely unacceptable. These are all acts of ignorance grounded in fear.
- This university rejects such behavior and remains committed to denouncing such actions, now and always, regardless of the source. We declare zero tolerance of any such acts or incidents no matter where or when they occur.
- We reject any consideration, including judicial, of women as second-class citizens in our nation. This goes against our basic values and has no place in a democratic republic in the 21st century.
- And we confirm that there is no road to a better future that does not follow the path of social justice, and it will suffer neither color barriers nor cultural, spiritual, gender or sexual restrictions. We truly are all in this together.
As we begin 2023-24, we do not forget that, together, we must continue to strive to be an inclusive community of diverse students and scholars, committed to the positive impact higher education affords our region. Each of us can make a difference. It is fundamental to all we do and desire to achieve here at CSUSB.
And I know I speak for the 22 other presidents of the California State University and the chancellery, that we are deeply committed to ensuring that our faculty and staff are appropriately compensated, and that we support the efforts of our faculty and staff to advocate for that equitable compensation.
And now I would like to leave you with a video highlighting some of the successes and inspirational achievements of the last year.
And don’t forget! Homecoming is right around the corner: Saturday – October 28th!