Highlighting that California State University, Northridge’s reputation has reached “new heights,” President Dianne F. Harrison said her vision for the university’s future includes building on CSUN’s strong foundation to produce leaders and innovators that are world leaders.
“We can educate not only California’s future leaders right here, but the country’s future leaders, right here,” said Harrison to a packed audience of mostly faculty and staff at CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center. “I would like for CSUN to be known for providing an outstanding education, evidenced by our graduation rates, by our career and graduate school placement and other external validations.
“My vision of CSUN is a campus of inclusive excellence that produces leaders and innovators and the highest percentage of successful graduates in an environment of caring, civility, mutual respect and celebrating each other’s successes.”
Harrison spoke on Aug. 21 at her third convocation address to faculty, staff and students. She was introduced by Faculty Senate President Shane Frehlich and joined on the stage by Associated Students President Tiffany Zaich, who also addressed the audience. Harrison started her presentation by offering a special salute to the 41 new tenure-track faculty members, 84 faculty members who were tenured or promoted, 230 permanent full-time staff who have joined CSUN in the past year or have taken on new roles, and faculty honored at the Honored Faculty Reception and staff who received Presidential and Merit Awards at June’s Staff Service Awards ceremony.
“When I came to Northridge, I talked about a second floor, or building the next level of excellence with the campus community, building on the great foundation that I was fortunate enough to inherit,” Harrison said. “As you have seen this morning, the signs of construction and excitement are everywhere.
“People in this the region, people in this nation and yes, even around the globe are recognizing CSUN.”
President Harrison said she will continue to focus on the seven priorities established in 2012:
· To continue an unrelenting focus on student success as CSUN’s number one priority. This will continue through programs like CSUN’s newly established CSUN Dreamers Scholarship, available for the university’s undocumented students. Harrison also said the campus will focus attention on traditionally underserved and academically at-risk students and study “high impact” practices that improve graduation rates. All students can now pay for tuition and other fees through CSUN’s mobile app.
· To continue to focus on employees for success with the goal of making CSUN a “destination workplace.” This will be supported by programs like the Help Make CSUN Shine Bright program; CSUN Shine from Within Program; campuswide celebrations like the first-ever campuswide holiday party and summer picnic; and an expansion of the university’s professional development programs; and she said employee compensation remains a top priority.
· To continue to grow campus visibility and reputation. The campus has already made great strides toward this goal with the CSUN Shine campaign, CSUN Shine Weekly e-newsletter and CSUN’s social media activity. In the coming year, the university will launch an external positioning campaign focused on the CSUN service area, and the campus will continue to explore the feasibility of a Multipurpose Event Center.
· To continue to plan for a future less dependent on state funding. The improved performance of CSUN auxiliaries will allow for a more than 30 percent increase in surplus they will contribute to CSUN next year; increased CSUN self-support degree and certificate programs provide new sources of revenue to reinvest in university capacities for instruction and support services; partnership agreements with companies like Providence Health Systems have increased corporate sponsorship revenues. The president said this has been a very successful year in philanthropy for CSUN with the campus exceeding its goal of raising 10 percent of CSUN’s state budget in philanthropic dollars. New gift commitments increased from $11.4 million in fiscal year 2011-12, to $14.8 million in 2012-13, to $20 million (projected) in 2013-14, a 75 percent increase in two years.
· To continue to increase research activity and sponsored programs with efforts like the agreement between CSUN and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). Harrison said this agreement will have a positive impact on the economic growth of the region through “invention, experimentation and creativity.” In addition, the campus has partnered in the establishment of the “CSU5.” This is a consortium that pools the talents and resources of the five L.A. County CSU campuses: CSUN, Dominguez Hills, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Cal Poly Pomona, to bring the collective strength and resources of the CSU for the purpose of networking and working collaboratively with community and industry partners to increase innovation in industry and job creation in L.A. and to work with K–12 and community college partners.
· To continue efforts to support sustainability by “educating future generations of global citizens and to model sustainable practices.” Harrison said it is CSUN’s goal to teach students to be leaders and innovators. The campus has made progress by supporting alternative transportation through programs like the A.S. Zipcar, which allows drivers to leave their cars at home and rent cars on campus if needed. This fall, the university will open the Matasphere, a new living-learning community in student housing with sustainability and conservation as the focus.
· To continue to use athletics as a tool for engagement both internally and externally. She said it is important to CSUN that athletes are successful both on the field and in the classroom. Harrison noted that this spring, CSUN inducted 45 new members in the Varsity N’ Honor Society, which recognizes student athletes for academic achievement. The university will continue to increase the visibility of CSUN athletics through campaigns like “Rise of the Matadors.” This year, the department introduced sand volleyball as a new varsity sport, and an on-campus court will be built for the Spring 2015 season.
Visit the president’s website to view the convocation address or read the speech in full.