CSUSB President Delivers ‘State of the University’ Address at Fall Convocation

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By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley) – What separates the Cal State San Bernardino experience from those of its peer schools? That was the question that CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales asked when he addressed more than 800 faculty, staff, administrators and students at the annual fall Convocation on Monday, Sept. 22.

This year’s “state of the university” address, which kicks off the 2014-2015 academic year, was moved to the campus’s Coussoulis Arena to accommodate the increasing number in attendance. Fall classes begin on Thursday, Sept. 25.

The event was also streamed online to the university’s Palm Desert Campus and for those who were unable to attend in person.

“Every commencement, when I ask for each first generation graduate to stand, the explosion of passion from graduates and their parents will blow you away,” said Morales. More than 70 percent of CSUSB students are the first in their family to earn a college degree.

Calling them “trailblazers,” Morales commended them for their dedication and persistence despite the challenges faced by CSUSB students in one of the most disadvantaged communities in the country.  “You cannot help but get emotional,” he said.

Morales, who enters his third year as president at Cal State San Bernardino, summarized some of the university’s accomplishments, citing that CSUSB is third among all 23 CSU campuses in first- to second-year retention of students. Nationally, CSUSB ranks third in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latinos in liberal arts and sciences as well as mathematics and statistics.

In addition, national rankings by leading publications include Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, which places CSUSB 26th in the nation in granting bachelor’s and master’s degrees to Latino students. Educate to Career, a California not-for-profit that measures the improvement in employability and earnings that a college brings to its graduates, ranked CSUSB seventh in the nation. 

“What this says is that we are doing an exceptional job as it relates to the percentage of graduates employed in occupations which utilize their field of study, the average salary earned by recent graduates, and the percentage of graduates employed within one year of graduation,” Morales said.

A year ago, Morales said that the university would reaffirm its responsibility to student success, emphasizing academic and career counseling for students. On Monday, Sept. 22, he announced that 35 new tenure-track faculty have been added and a cadre of advisers is being created because “adviser-student conversations with academic advisers can make the difference between success and failure.”

Other highlights included:

·      The inaugural freshman class at the Palm Desert Campus successfully completed its first year with 93 percent retention to second year, becoming the first sophomore class at PDC;

·      A partnership with The Dream.US, a national program that will provide scholarships to more than 2,000 undocumented students around the country, making CSUSB one of only two CSU campuses currently participating in it;

·      CSUSB’s culture of community service, which offered 149 service learning courses last year, contributing more than 82,000 hours of volunteer service, which is the equivalent to more than $2 million to local communities;

·      National recognition on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, among others;

·      The launching this past summer of Coyote First STEP (Summer Transition Enrichment Program) as a pre-college preparation that addresses academic deficiencies of incoming freshmen;

·      The signing of memorandums of understanding with eight school districts to create an automatic admissions path to CSUSB; and

·      Bridging students into research partnerships through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, actively engaging them in the development of institutional grants, technology and commercialization.

 

Morales said continuous improvement begins with a culture of assessment. “We need to assess everything we do, not to be critical, but to identify ways we can improve.”

On Oct. 8, CSUSB will launch a year-long strategic planning process through the Strategic Planning Advisory committee, chaired by Sam Sudhakar, vice president of technology services, and Terry Rizzo, professor and chair of the kinesiology department. The process will involve the campus community as it re-examines CSUSB’s mission, vision and values.

In addition, a revised campus master plan will be developed that involves both the San Bernardino and Palm Desert campuses to provide direction for the future physical development of both sites, including future space for housing, new academic buildings, libraries and a variety of student service operations.

Morales announced the start of a pilot shuttle service between the Palm Desert Campus and the San Bernardino campus beginning this fall, which he hopes will bridge the two communities. The shuttles will run twice a day.

The president concluded with a note about plans for CSUSB’s 50th anniversary celebration, now underway, inviting faculty, staff and students to participate with suggestions or to become involved in the planning process.

For images of the Convocation and a copy of President Morales’ Convocation speech, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.

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