Sept 8, 2015Vol. 46, Issue 1

From the President's Desk: Access, Inclusion, Success

As those of you who attended Fall Convocation heard me say, I am truly grateful to be serving as our University’s president this year. Yes, on one level, there is a transcendental dimension to this feeling. Happy to be vertical with a strong heart and encouraging health prospects for the future. 

On another level, as unwelcome as they were, my health issues have put into sharp focus the honor it has been to work at Chico State in the company of dedicated colleagues, with the support of generous and loyal friends of the campus, and in the pursuit of our noble and vital mission. We have worked hard to deliver on the expectations that our stakeholders have in us. In fact, we have shaped and raised those expectations. And, if high performance is the consequence of high expectations, we have made a statement about our direction, our aspirations, our values, and what matters here.

So, on still another level, my gratitude focuses on the work ahead this year. For this is a preparatory year for our University’s next president and it is as important as next year’s transition year will be for new presidential leadership. In such a year as this, I have a keen responsibility to try to set the table for Chico State’s next president, enabling him or her to appreciate what we have accomplished, and providing a foundation for new vision and energy that will take the campus to the next level of achievement and distinction.

So, beginning with this column, I will focus on various issues that are critical to our story and cornerstones to our identity. And the place to start is, indeed, the heart of the matter—student learning and success.

As I mentioned at Fall Convocation, for this academic year, we have had more students than ever seeking admission to our University. We have been more selective than ever in accommodating them. We are more diverse than ever. The academic profile of our new students is stronger than ever. And our graduation rates are higher than ever. 

Admissions and Enrollment Management, of course, plays a huge role in these matters. For our students do not just show up unannounced, uninformed, and unintended.  They come here because we have been strategic in reaching out to them, because they have heard a compelling story, and because they believe it. And because they discover the truth of our story in their interactions with all of us.

Yes, all of us. For no matter what division or department or area in which we are located, no matter what our individual roles and responsibilities may be, we are a community of purpose and promise principally focused on the learning, well-being, and success of our students. To be sure, different strokes for different folks in this regard. But each of us has the opportunity—indeed, the privilege—every day to do something that benefits and serves our students. Chico State’s next president needs to witness this culture; signal a desire to be a part of it; and demonstrate the capacity to advance it.

If that is the case—and quite, frankly, the University depends upon that being the case—this campus will continue the progress it has been making in several key areas that speak directly to student success. And continuing this progress underscores some key goals and tasks to be accomplished during this preparatory year that focus on student access, inclusion, and success.

  • ACCESS: We can anticipate that the 96% increase in first-time freshman applications and 117% increase in transfer applications over the last decade will continue to be the trend going forward. As a result, the University will experience increased pressure to accommodate more enrollments from the Board of Trustees, the governor, and the legislature. Mandated enrollment growth will push the University very quickly to its Master Plan ceiling. Enrollment Management, the provost, the college deans, and Student Affairs will need to have discussions this year that present the new president with an analysis of this situation in order to inform his or her input both on the campus and at the Chancellor’s Office. For academic planning, strategic planning, student housing and support, and community relations are just among the many issues that are impacted by enrollment growth. 
  • INCLUSION: The campus has made impressive gains in student diversity. From 2003-2015, the total percentage of our students of color has risen from 18% to 42%. The population with the largest increase has been Hispanic/Latino, growing over this period of time from 10% to 28%. That growth is particularly dramatic in recent years, as reflected in the fact that 42.1% of our incoming first-time freshmen this fall are Hispanic/Latino. We are on the verge of formally achieving Hispanic Serving Institution status. But we are stuck on low numbers for some populations, including those whom we particularly serve in the North State, namely, Hmong, Sikh, and Native American. We also need to ensure that we stay on course to achieve a 5% representation of international students. And we have not made the kind of gains of which we are capable with respect to the diversity of our workforce. This is an important signal to our students of how we value and promote an inclusive living and learning community.
  • SUCCESS: So many markers of student success, to be sure, but none more attention-grabbing than graduation rates. We welcome that attention. Both for first-time freshmen and transfer students, our graduation rates exceed the goals set for the campus in the CSU Graduation Initiative. We are among only a handful of other campuses in the CSU with similarly strong graduation rates. We are also seeing progress towards reducing the “achievement gap” between our under-represented minority students and those who are not. When the benchmarks for the Graduation Initiative were set in 2007, that gap was 21% on our campus. It is now less than 10%. We need to halve it again in order to meet the CSU’s definition for having closed the gap. And then we need to close it completely.

As just these topics indicate, and so many others on which I will provide similar commentary through this and other forums, a busy year ahead. Whether this year is seen as preparatory or transitional, I would not have it any other way.

 

Paul J. Zingg

President

September 8, 2015

The President's convocation address can be seen on video or read in text.

Achievements

Achievements

Retired WREC staff Wayne Murray was the recipient of the 2014 Staff Safety Award. Plus, faculty and staff achievements since spring 2015. Read more.

#MyTopCollege

#MyTopCollege

We asked our social media followers how they've been molded by Chico State as part of a Forbes’ campaign. Here are a few of our favorites. See Storify.