TURLOCK, Calif. — November 22, 2013 — Joseph F. Sheley was formally invested today as president of California State University, Stanislaus during a ceremony rich with age-old academic traditions but with a clear focus on the shared future of the university and the region.
The investiture ceremony carried a theme of unity, highlighting the role of faculty, staff and students — along with civic and business leaders — in elevating the region. Sheley’s address, which concluded the ceremony, expounded both on the “ONE” theme and on his vision for the future of higher education in general and at CSU Stanislaus.
As part of the ceremony, CSU Chancellor Timothy White placed the presidential medallion around Sheley’s neck, signifying his investiture as president.
“Here at CSU Stanislaus, President Sheley has immersed himself in the university’s traditions of diversity, inclusiveness and community engagement,” White said. “He is a wonderful ambassador for this university and its outstanding programs, small class sizes and hometown feel. And he is a compelling advocate for 21st-century skills — especially writing — which will continue to be a critical component of our graduates’ future success.”
In his address, Sheley called for a rethinking of the role of higher education in today’s society, where virtually all of the world’s information can be accessed by tapping on one’s wristwatch.
“Finding information is no longer the challenge,” he said. “How to assess its integrity is. Ethical application is. Privacy is. Security is. Using information to make a difference is.”
Sheley said universities should reassess the major’s place in education and put a greater focus on the liberal arts and sciences, which develop skills like communication, critical thinking and problem solving — along with more advanced concepts of ethics and leadership — that are universally applicable.
Sheley, himself a Sacramento State graduate, said the CSU as a whole and CSU Stanislaus in particular already do a good job of preparing students in this way and giving them these skills, regardless of major. As president, he hopes to put CSU Stanislaus on the cutting edge.
“My vision for CSU Stanislaus is leadership in the education of a new generation of students not locked within the confines of specialization but free to take on any issue, civic or professional,” he said. “Imagine this as our aim instead of our byproduct, the signature by which we are widely known and for which future students seek us out.”
With this new focus, Sheley said, CSU Stanislaus can find better ways of engaging the region, identifying its most critical educational needs while working with business, government and nonprofit partners to solve regional problems in new and innovative ways. Graduates will view challenges not through the narrow focus of their major, but with an approach that incorporates multiple perspectives and a skill set that allows for the creation of new ideas.
That vision, Sheley said, will only be achievable through the commitment of the university and region to common goals.
“A vision is only as good as the community’s willingness to pursue it — not just the campus, but the whole region,” Sheley said. “We are poised to pursue a signature vision. We are so close that I can see it. I can touch it.
“I have never been so confident about anything in my life: This vision of our one university, one community will be our legacy — if you will join me in its pursuit.”