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A Letter from President Manuel A. Esteban
Faculty Reflection
In Focus: Student-Centered Learning
Opportunities for Giving
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A Letter from the President
The California State University last year launched a comprehensive strategic planning initiative, The Cornerstones Project, to meet the challenges facing CSU now and in the next decade. Each campus will play an integral part. Last spring CSU Board of Trustees Chair Martha Falgatter and Trustee Bernie Goldstein visited Chico to share their vision for The Cornerstones Project and to hear how we are integrating our strategy into the statewide plan. According to Trustee Fallgatter, “What the CSU does, as the strongest and largest system in the nation, will set a course for higher education in the United States for years to come.” Two fundamental developments–challenges for higher education–underlie the project: (1) a crisis of funding and resources, especially in light of the projected demand for university education in California, and (2) a need to find resourceful ways to provide education in view of California’s continuing social, demographic, and economic transformation.

I believe that the policy goals of The Cornerstones Project–Educational Results, Access to Higher Education, Financial Stability, and University Accountability–are very much reflected by what CSU, Chico has already achieved through our WASC self-review and development of our own Strategic Plan for the Future.

Let me share with you a few activities we have undertaken to implement our strategic plan. Our first priority is “to create and enhance, innovative, high quality, and student-centered learning environments.”

• A University-wide Assessment Program, now in place, allows us to respond fully to demands of legislators and the larger public that we be accountable.

• A task force is defining, identifying, and enhancing academic rigor at CSU, Chico.

• We created the President’s Scholars Program to attract high-achieving students. Last year we awarded four $5000 presidential scholarships to the top four students out of the 125 who participated in the day-long competition. We also gave $500 scholarships to twenty student scholars. This year we will award six $5000 scholarships as well as several $500 awards.

• The Office of Financial Aid Accounting has taken steps to provide better services to our students, such as having their financial aid funds directly deposited into their personal checking accounts and allowing them to use credit cards to pay for their fees.

• For many years, students have wanted a larger student union building and a better bookstore. The Trustees have approved the renovation and expansion of the BMU and the construction of a new bookstore, which means the available space will grow from 52,000 square feet to over 125,000, creating greater opportunities for co-curricular activities. This will also help define more clearly our institution as a residential campus. Construction will begin this summer.

• There will continue to be significant changes to our athletic programs. Our move to a new athletic conference will generate much interest. The construction of Nettleton Stadium has added to our physical plant and to what we can offer to student athletes, students generally, and the public. In addition, a $500,000 interest-free loan from the City of Chico will allow us to improve considerably our soccer stadium. Our second priority is “to invest in faculty and staff development.”

• The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), formed in late 1995, yearly allocates $250,000 ($150,000 of which comes from the Chancellor’s Office for faculty productivity projects) to support faculty development relating to teaching and learning.

• A group of staff devised a staff development plan. I adopted it and am committed to seeing that the program, now in its second year, will be properly supported for years to come.

• Using equipment generously donated by a major vendor, a staff computer training facility was opened this past academic year in Meriam Library.Our third priority is “to enhance academic programs by building a state-of-the-art technological learning environment.”

• With a $500,000 competitive award from the Chancellor’s Office, we have created in Meriam Library the 24-hour a day Student Computing Laboratory, a focal point for students seeking help with computer problems.

• An automated degree-audit system is now on-line, which greatly simplifies the task of departmental advisers and personnel in Advising and Orientation.

• This summer the library significantly improved access to library information by implementing a new Web-accessible, integrated library system from Ameritech.

• Our efforts to provide an appropriate networked computer to every faculty member continued as we placed almost three hundred new machines on faculty desks by late summer. This has been a high priority of mine. By the end of this academic year we will be close to our goal of having 100 percent of all faculty linked to the Internet.

• CSU, Chico continues to play a lead role in the development of CSUHSAT, a systemwide satellite delivery mechanism providing credit courses and academic programs throughout the state. Chico offers fifty-five courses, the broadest array of courses from any campus.Our fourth priority is “to reaffirm the role of CSU, Chico as the anchor institution of the region and develop positive links to our community and region.”

• We have become members of the national Campus Compact to deepen this institution’s long commitment to experiential, community-based education.

• We have provided an electronic superhighway linking all but one of the North State’s County Offices of Education and have provided Internet connections for 230 school sites.

• We continue to support development in our region and seek ways to better work with Chico to enhance economic growth. For example, the University, and especially the Department of Biological Sciences, has taken an active role in recruiting Atlantic BioPharmaceuticals, Inc., or ABI, to Chico from Montreal. In the first two years, the company will be conducting basic research in facilities in Holt Hall. Some research will be done in collaboration with faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences. After that, ABI will be moving to a permanent site off campus. In an effort to foster closer relations between the University and Chico, as well as the region we serve, I have re-activated the University Advisory Board, made up of twenty-five influential members from Chico, Sacramento, Stockton, Redding, and Red Bluff. Our fifth and last priority is “to diversify our sources of revenue and strategically manage the resources entrusted to us by the State and people of California.”

• We have instituted a focused international recruitment effort, which has already begun to pay big dividends.

• Our efforts at enrollment management have contributed to a stable budget environment. The next goal is to shape our entering class and continue to expand our efforts to recruit high-achieving students.

• We are currently experiencing a steady growth in graduate student enrollment.

• Faculty and staff continue to place our institution in the top three or four campuses in the system when it comes to bringing in extramural funds. Sponsored Projects brings over $20 million to the campus each year in the form of grants and contracts. In 1996–97, we broke our previous record, surpassing the $24 million mark. What is more impressive is that 75 percent of our grant applications have been funded. The national average is about 33 percent. This is an incredible record for our faculty and staff, particularly at a time when federal and state resources are lean.

These are just a few of our accomplishments relating to the Strategic Plan and our role in helping the CSU meet its Cornerstones goals.

I am sure many of you have heard that last October the CSU Board of Trustees selected Charles B. Reed, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida, to succeed CSU Chancellor Barry Munitz. Reed will assume his new duties on March 1. Since 1985, he has served as chief executive officer of the Florida Board of Regents, which oversees ten public universities with a budget of more than $3 billion and 35,000 employees.

While each campus in the CSU has its own character, we have grown together as a system over the years, particularly under Barry Munitz’s tenure. I am certain that with Chancellor Reed’s leadership we will take advantage of the rich opportunities ahead of us to become one of the best university systems in the world.