2019 University Convocation
Monday, Sept. 16, 9 a.m.
On this beautiful September day, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to a new academic year here at Cal State San Bernardino.
This Convocation is the traditional starting point, a gathering where we renew acquaintances, refresh our passion for education and reinforce the proud legacy of this great university.
It is one of my pleasures at Convocation to salute new additions to our faculty, staff and administration. Each brings an impressive array of knowledge and experience to our community of outstanding educators, skilled associates and inspiring leaders. I gladly welcome you to CSUSB.
We also want to welcome both our undergraduate and graduate students. This includes the newcomers getting their initial taste of Coyote life and those entering their final months here as they work toward graduation and prepare for the next steps into their futures.
In addition, joining us this morning are our 2019 Golden Grads. They are members of the Class of 1969, celebrating their 50th anniversary with us.
As they reaffirm their connection to their alma mater, their presence provides us a direct link to our past. I ask all our Golden Grads, previous and present, to rise, so we may acknowledge you and your special bond with this institution.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the faculty and staff for their contributions to ensuring that our strategic plan is dynamic and is moving the institution forward.
Student Success, the plan’s lead goal, touches the very heart of our educational mission. We all play a role in our students’ achievements. During 2018-19, both faculty and staff throughout the university have been successful in instituting high impact practices.
For example, the University’s Honors program grew by 33% last year. Under the leadership of the faculty athletics representative and the coaching staff, the Student-Athlete Academic Success Center opened. And faculty and staff have raised by 11% the number of students in range to reach sophomore status by the end of their first year.
We increased support for undergraduate student research and travel through mechanisms such as the ASI Student Research & Travel Grant. Last year’s Meeting of the Minds student symposium again showcased graduate and undergraduate research and creative activities. And the Office of Student Research, in combination with our faculty, provided faculty/student grants and reported a 43% year-to-year increase in the number of students participating in grant opportunities and programs.
We continue to realize an increase in summer attendance. More than $3 million were distributed in the form of Graduation Initiative Grants or Summer Assistance Grants, thereby assisting seniors in achieving graduation status. I would like to thank the academic department chairs and faculty who developed the schedule and taught during the summer.
I’d like to share with you a wonderful example of a partnership that is enabling an international experience for our student musicians: the College of Arts & Letters partnered with the division of Advancement, the Office of the President and Seoul Cyber University to bring 45 students plus faculty this October to give a concert in the most prestigious venue in South Korea. This will be a life-changing and world-expanding opportunity for them.
I wish to especially thank faculty and staff for continuing to reduce textbook costs for our students by expanding the Affordable Learning Solutions program. As of the end of last year, students have saved nearly $950,000 on course materials, more than double in savings from the prior year.
Supporting and advancing GI 2025 is another tool in our toolkit for enhancing student success. Graduation rates are on track to meet our initiative goals, with increases in the six-year and four-year completion rates for full-time, first-time freshmen. All achievement gaps decreased from fall 2011 to fall 2012 cohorts. And the four- and two-year grad rates for transfer students also improved.
Technology and institutional research helped monitor progress, generated analytical discussions and facilitated proactive intervention with students who may be having difficulties. And we are continuing to focus on math readiness so that it is not a stumbling block to a student’s advancement toward their degree. Thanks to the efforts of the Math Department, Advising & Academic Services, Supplemental Instruction and Tutoring, we seek to provide the right math pathway for the right major as well as the support students need to achieve their academic goals.
Our students can only be successful if faculty and staff are successful. For faculty, this has meant a review and strengthening of faculty development from teaching to research. New Faculty Orientation has expanded into support throughout that critical first year on campus. For faculty in years two and three at CSUSB, a year-long learning community last year brought together lecturers and tenure track faculty to disseminate evidence-based teaching practices campus wide. The Faculty Center for Excellence increased their offered events by 67% over the prior year. The Office of Research Development was established to assist faculty in strengthening their research agenda. The 2019 Faculty & Staff Book Launch honored those who have published a book in the past two years. And the Tenure Track Faculty Hiring Task Force created a three-year plan to support recruitment and meet strategic plan goals.
One example of a college-centered faculty support initiative is the Brown College’s Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship’s Faculty Fellows Program, which supports faculty from throughout the university who are interested in integrating an entrepreneurial mindset and related approaches into their specific discipline.
Finally, we continue, through the hard work of faculty and staff who serve on search committees, to increase the diversity of our faculty and also decrease the university’s student-faculty ratio as we work toward the target ratio of 23.8%.
The Staff Development Center recognized the first cohorts of its Administrative Support Professional Career Pathway and Student Services Professional Career Pathway programs while also providing 122 workshops in collaboration with campus partners. Working with Human Resources, the Center created opportunities for staff to engage in topics aligned with the university’s core values.
CSUSB also moved forward in the area of campus climate by launching the Collegiality Matters campaign, which included a series of events and campus and community conversations.
Resource Sustainability and Expansion is the lifeline to CSUSB’s growth as it increases and diversifies revenue. This encompasses civic, community and/or business partnerships and fundraising. One stellar example is our new partnership with the City of Palm Desert to establish the Palm Desert Digital iHub, which will open this fall across the street from PDC. It will include a new state-of-the-art cybersecurity program, along with new programs in hospitality and entrepreneurship.
Last year the university received $30 million in grants. I want to thank the offices who support our faculty in the grant submission and management process. I also applaud the faculty and staff who are continuing to aggressively submit proposals for future grants and contracts—you are turning us into a powerhouse for a university of our size. Let’s keep aiming high.
No review of the past year would be complete without taking time to focus on our just-completed Comprehensive Campaign.
Let me begin by saying this was a major undertaking from the very start. Nothing of this scope had ever been attempted at this university. Just the thought of a $50 million campaign caught many by surprise.
Yet you can never succeed if you don’t try. With the support and encouragement of key donors and longtime university supporters, we took up the challenge to develop consistent sources of external funds, focusing on those programs that directly impact student success.
For every large gift, there were a multitude of others made by faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and parents of our students. The African proverb says it takes a village to raise a child. In our case, it took thousands of generous and caring individuals, corporations, foundations and partners to achieve this goal. And we doubled our endowment as a result.
The official close of the campaign last June 30th saw us succeed beyond anything we could have imagined: $54 million dollars!
I am proud of the expansion in philanthropic and corporation support. In the last year alone, we increased our donations by over 35% and grew our donor pool by over 70%.
And, in what we hope is a sign of the growing affinity of our students with their alma mater, we increased the dollars raised from our students by 140%.
I ask everyone here to join me in applauding the dedicated efforts of so many, and the generosity and support that lead to such a monumental achievement!
Community Engagement and Partnerships, the fourth of our strategic plan goals, continues to serve as a motivational tool for our students, faculty and staff and strengthens our ties throughout the region.
Service learning is one of these tools. Combined with study abroad opportunities—as in last year’s trips to Ensenada, Mexico and Peru—it ties this goal with the high impact practices we utilize in our student success efforts. My thanks to all the faculty and staff who engaged in and integrated service learning experiences into programming this last year.
We celebrate volunteer service here at CSUSB. I see our volunteerism as an expanding area of campus life and culture and have created awards to recognize outstanding participants. Last year, the President’s 2018-19 Volunteer Service Awards recognized 183 participating students from the San Bernardino and Palm Desert campuses. A new President’s Volunteer Service Award program begins this fall.
The Office of Community Engagement again held high the university’s commitment to service. Its new quarterly Educate & Serve breakfast series connects faculty with key community stakeholders to identify new collaborations and partnerships. Its faculty grants program awarded over $127,000 to 30 faculty last year. And the seventh annual Coyote Cares Day saw students, staff, administrators and alumni from the San Bernardino and Palm Desert campuses volunteer at 18 community sites. The value of their day’s service was nearly $72,000. In 2018-19, CSUSB students contributed more than 95,000 hours of volunteer service.
Our fifth goal, Identity, is evident in the growth of this university’s visibility and reputation. We had a 738% increase in alumni engagement last year compared with 2014-15. The alumni mentor program continues to grow, having its most successful year ever. The Alumni Professor for a Day program had a 166% increase in program participants. We continue to support affinity-based alumni chapters and launched an Undocumented Alumni Chapter, the first in the CSU.
Across the campus, from the divisional and college level to office and departments and student clubs and organizations, CSUSB is increasing its engagement with our region. My thanks to all of you—our faculty, students and staff—who are energizing these relationships.
Again, thanks to faculty and staff, we are entering the fourth year of our journey to move from a quarter to a semester calendar. 2019-20 marks the final academic year CSUSB operates as a quarter-based institution. My heartfelt thanks go to all of you in the campus community who have worked very hard on the transition, touching on nearly every aspect of campus planning and operations in the process, while striving to ensure that no student would be adversely affected by this transition.
At this point, almost all curriculum items have been approved and work continues on updating our systems this fall.
As a university, it is essential that we come together and make this transition as easy as possible for our students. We must also look to help each other, offering support and guidance as we march toward a successful conclusion to this extraordinary effort.
As we continue to evolve as a university, we are witness to great changes taking place within our campus environment. With the growth of residence space, dining options and related on-campus resources, we can proudly claim a blossoming and vibrant life experience that offers more options to those who desire such opportunities.
Expansion plans for the Santos Manuel Student Union are continuing so we can provide more learning, support and recreation space to enrich the CSUSB college experience.
The Coussoulis Arena has long been a center of Coyote Pride, and improvements to the seating and the floor itself will help it retain its reputation as a showcase for our student-athletes and our university.
As we begin this, our 54th year as an institution of higher education, it is exciting to know that we continue to grow and develop to meet the needs of our students and our community.
Change is a constant in life. To deny it is to deny the chance to make things better. However, the past is the foundation upon which everything is built, so remembering what has been sets a standard for what will be.
As our Golden Grads will confirm, this is a much different place than when they stepped on campus for the very first time.
Yet while it is essential to uphold tradition, it can never be allowed to encumber progress. We are charged with advancing knowledge and preparing students to achieve their potential. That requires us to embrace new ideas, new methods and to provide our students the support and resources needed to succeed.
Our campus has the honor of hosting the Western Regional Student African American Brotherhood Conference on October 11-12; this event “targets young males (especially of color) … with an interest in advancing and supporting successful educational pathways to help leverage the talents and to create change for students at the middle school, high school and college levels.” I hope to see all of you back here on campus on Saturday, October 19th, as we celebrate Homecoming. On November 14th, we will hold the official grand opening of the Center for Global Innovation, the new home for our College of Extended and Global Education. And, don’t forget, Coyote Cares Day 2020 will be on Saturday, April 25th, in conjunction with Earth Day and National Volunteer Week.
Before I leave the podium so that you can view the video highlights that made last year truly memorable, I will leave you with these thoughts:
Every day we strive to be an inclusive community of diverse students and scholars, committed to the engine that is higher education here in our region of Inland Southern California. Every. Day. Do not forget this, as each of us has the opportunity to make a difference in whatever role we play at this great university. And that is what it means to be a member of the CSUSB community. Every. Day. In this way, we, as a university, will Define the Future.
I look forward to seeing you again at 4:00 today in the SMSU Events Center for our annual All-University Reception.
I invite you now to enjoy the video. And welcome, everyone, to academic year 2019-20. May it be our best year yet.