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Welcome to the President's Office

President’s Address – 2020 University Convocation

Thursday, Aug. 20, 9 a.m.

Good morning!

I am delighted to see so many joining us as we begin the 2020-21 academic year here at Cal State San Bernardino.

This year is unlike any other in the history of this institution. We begin it as we finished the previous one, serving our students in a primarily virtual format.

The University is moving forward as we deal with critical issues involving public health, personal contact and human interaction. Managing a “new” normal, we will continue to adapt and adjust as circumstances dictate.

Something else makes this convocation distinctive. Today, we proudly begin CSUSB’s first-ever fall semester, successfully transitioning from the quarter system. It has been a lengthy and intricate process, involving every sector of our campus community.

I want to thank the faculty and staff who led the Q2S Steering Committee and its accompanying sub-committees, including the transformation of the curricula, which will further enhance a CSUSB education.

Yet with all the obvious differences this year brings, there remains a warm and welcome feeling to Convocation 2020. We open this, our 55th year, as we always have, dedicated to continuing our educational mission.

Our University remains focused on the essential need to maintain a learning environment that is safe and supportive. We are extremely grateful for those essential workers who have continued to do their jobs on campus throughout the pandemic, keeping it safe, secure and functioning effectively.

The past six months have called on us to continue prioritizing the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff. In the face of the ongoing global pandemic, we must sustain that effort, verifying to all that we can effectively operate and follow the best course to overcome this great challenge.

We do so while also supplying essential resources and assistance that allow our students to continue their academic progress and succeed. Likewise, we remain firmly resolved to offer vital support to our outstanding faculty and caring staff.

Last month, Chancellor White offered an update on the state of the CSU budget. We face a harsh financial landscape for at least three years.

CSUSB’s budget has been decreased by $13.9 million dollars as compared to a year ago, a permanent reduction.

Four core principles will guide our budget planning, all based on sustaining the success of our students, faculty and staff. We are committed to …

  • Prioritizing the delivery of the academic mission, inclusive of instruction and support services.
  • Minimizing impact to current employees as much as possible.
  • Aligning the budget to ensure successful programs and services across all divisions and colleges.
  • And maintaining high levels of financial transparency as we manage this crisis.

To realize these principles, each of us must be willing to make additional sacrifices to reduce expenditures.

The University Budget Advisory Committee, comprised of faculty, staff, and student leadership, continues to meet and review budget updates and provide critical feedback and guidance. We will also hold another open budget forum during the Fall Semester.

I am confident that, in the midst of these difficult circumstances, you will not allow our financial challenges to interfere with your commitment to the success of our students.

This year we also continue following the schedule for WASC accreditation. This is an extensive and involved process, and I greatly appreciate the tremendous contributions being made by faculty, staff and students.

Growth and progress as a University requires constant, vigilant review. It is an essential part of our evolving as an educational institution and as a resource to the communities we serve.

As we officially open this academic year, there are two impressive achievements I am proud to highlight.

I begin with the announcement of a new school – The School of Entrepreneurship within the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration. The first of its kind in California, it positions CSUSB to attract the finest students and faculty. It will also greatly benefit the Inland Southern California economy and its developing entrepreneurial community.

Over the past year, our faculty and staff have attracted a number of prestigious grants and contracts. One example is a recent $5 million dollar National Science Foundation CREST II research grant.

I want to thank the many faculty and staff who made these and many other achievements possible.

We again have many new faces joining our campus community, especially the additions to our faculty, staff and administration. Each of you bring an impressive array of knowledge and experience to our vibrant community. I gladly welcome you to our university.

We also welcome our undergraduate and graduate students. That includes both the newcomers getting their initial taste of Coyote life and those entering their final months at CSUSB as they work toward graduation and prepare for the next step on their life path.

During convocation, we take time to honor our past and recognize our achievements.

We are continuing to advance the University’s strategic plan. Originally envisioned to cover five years, this past academic year we came together as a community and extended the existing plan through 2022. This allows us to build upon the great work already completed and to enhance its effect with new objectives added to the established five goals.

Our lead goal, Student Success, goes to the very heart of our educational mission.

We continue making progress in supporting and advancing the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025. Recent data reflects we are on track to meet our targets.

Our first-time freshmen 2016 cohort have a four-year graduation rate of 24.2 percent and our 2014 cohort achieved a six-year rate of 58.8 percent. Transfer students have a two-year grad rate of 55.9 percent and a four-year rate of 80.4 percent.

New objectives added to our Student Success goal include increasing access to course offerings and providing additional flexibility, involving both face-to-face and online instruction. We also intend to increase online student training to deliver high-quality courses virtually.

Academic advising services will examine all available data to expand and enhance programs in order to promote timely graduation and career exploration. They will also implement student worker enhancements for all undergraduate and graduate students, and remove administrative barriers while creating processes that are A-I driven and mobile compatible.     

The second goal, Faculty and Staff Success, is essential as we maintain our educational mission and foster innovation, scholarship and discovery.

A major step in this effort was the 2017 establishment of the Faculty Center for Excellence and the Staff Development Center.

With the aim of helping further strengthen faculty virtual teaching for the new semester, and in collaboration with campus leadership, Academic Technologies & Innovation and the Teaching Resource Center launched the CSUSB Summer Virtual Teaching Institute. It was designed to support faculty with tools and techniques to enhance their ability to provide our students a rigorous and exceptional learning experience in the virtual format.

The Staff Development Center’s career pathways certificate programs offer training for Administrative Support, Student Services, and Finance and Related professionals. Participants obtain instruction for success in their field, exposure to other positions or insight on another classification.

The Academic Affairs division launched the Office of Research Development, which continues to assist faculty in strengthening their research agenda.

And since 2015, we have appointed 190 new tenure/tenure track faculty, of which 50 represent a net increase.

Among the additional objectives established for Faculty and Staff success is an assessment of existing diversity recruitment, development and program offerings.

There is also the creation of a coordinated support structure for faculty development, which includes targeted support for lecturers.

The third goal, Resource Sustainability and Expansion, involves our firm commitment to the current and future infrastructure and capacity of this University.

The historical success of the $50 million dollar Campaign for CSUSB, which saw University Advancement raise $54 million dollars for institutional and student support, stands as a milestone achievement in our history.

During the first five years of the strategic plan, the university has added 136,000 square feet of usable area to the campus space portfolio.

Through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 526 grant proposals were submitted during the past five years, resulting in more than $156 million dollars in awards.

Looking forward, additional objectives involve adoption of at least two new strategies annually to further reduce CSUSB’s carbon footprint. All new major capital construction will be developed under L-E-E-D or equivalent certification strategies.

And a comprehensive plan is being developed to identify and assess utilization of existing campus space, while also assessing specific needs to support University growth and expansion.

Commitment to the fourth goal, Community Engagement and Partnerships, remains strong and continues to resonate with our students.

The Office of Community Engagement partnered with the Faculty Center for Excellence to launch the inaugural Community Engagement Faculty Learning Community.

This past year, 154 course sections were offered that included service learning, with a student enrollment of more than 2,000.

Since the start of the Strategic Plan, nearly 440,000 volunteer hours have been completed in service to the community, with an estimated value of $12.4 million dollars.

Over the next two years, we will build on these achievements while adding several new objectives.

We will strengthen our K-12 to college pipeline for students within our region. We will expand our role as an anchor institution, which includes cultivating partnerships and building strategic relationships. It also involves establishing and strengthening relationships with elected officials and their staffs at all levels of government.

Identity, our fifth goal, has seen a collaborative institution-wide effort resulting in a tremendous leap in CSUSB’s visibility and perception.

Under the Office of Strategic Communication’s leadership, we implemented a new University branding campaign, which dramatically increased awareness and the positive perception of CSUSB.

Our Alumni Relations Office has made tremendous progress on alumni engagement, with an increase of 738 percent over the past five years. In addition, new alumni chapters have been launched, including the Pan African Alumni Chapter as well as the first Undocumented Alumni Chapter in the CSU.

Moving forward, we will grow university identity as a learning institution by focusing on a culture of evidence and constant improvement. We will deliver transparency into strategic planning for internal reporting needs and continuing progress. And we will engage with campus stakeholders to develop active collaboration.

I am confident our efforts as part of the Strategic Plan will lead to many more success stories and exciting outcomes.           

Which brings me to a topic that reflects this university’s determination to grow as a concerned and caring institution.

I want to thank the many faculty, staff and students who participated last spring in the University Diversity Mapping study. Conducted by a nationally respected consulting group, the report delivered the current state of CSUSB’s diversity, equity and inclusion landscape. It identifies and assesses our diversity actions and proposes opportunities for growth, improvement and transformation.

The full report is being posted for the campus community to read. Within its key findings, the report commends the university’s longstanding and resolute commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI.

The report points out that our existing strategic plan does not define or envision what DEI means to CSUSB for the future and in terms of aspirational and actionable goals. To complement our strong foundation, it advises that we devise a university-wide diversity strategic vision in terms of DEI accomplishments.

It also suggests CSUSB engage in diversity restructuring to better align with campus goals.

Within this new framework, different voices will be integrated into the process, including student affairs, faculty and staff, affinity groups, and campus cultural centers.

Professing and promoting these core values is essential considering the turmoil prevalent in our society. As a nation, we are dealing with issues that have been festering for far too long, such as xenophobia, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.

CSUSB stands in support of the African American community, which has been plagued by oppression and violence for generations. In the wake of recent tragic events, we, as an institution, recognize the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement.

We also refuse to accept the hatred and disrespect currently focused against this nation’s undocumented as well as visiting international students. 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.

A blow delivered against any of us strikes all of us. 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.

In closing, I know this is not the way any of us desire to open this new academic year. So many hurdles, so many unknowns, so many changes from what is typically a time of excitement and renewal.

Yet while it is not the beginning we desire, it is the beginning current circumstances require.

Today, we are united in the belief that our combined efforts are essential to getting to the other side of these rough waters, and that our graduates will greatly contribute to this country’s recovery.

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 has the opportunity to make a difference. It is fundamental to all we do and desire to achieve here at CSUSB.

I want to leave you with a brief look back at some of the successes and inspirational achievements of last year. Enjoy the video, and let it remind us that great things and brighter days await us in the coming months.

Thank you!

<a href=";showinfo=0">Watch CSUSB 2019-20 Highlights YouTube Video</a>