President Sheley’s Annual Address Stresses Student Success, Advocacy and a Renewed Focus on Writing

TURLOCK, Calif. — August 26, 2013 — President Joseph F. Sheley gave his annual address this morning to the campus community at California State University, Stanislaus, laying the blueprint for a new culture of pride and advocacy with a clear focus on student success, a call for increased regional partnerships and a commitment to the fundamental skill of writing.

In his first annual address since his appointment as president by the CSU Board of Trustees in May, Sheley said the university’s budget woes have calmed since the passage of Proposition 30 in November. But though the threat of cuts has lifted and some restoration has begun since his time as interim president, Sheley said the university must craft a practical strategic plan that is priority-driven and outlines a vision based upon the university’s core values.

View President Sheley's Full Remarks

Sheley renewed his call for advocacy on behalf of CSU Stanislaus from those on campus and throughout the region. Advocacy will be especially important, he said, as the university continues to fight for funding to increase enrollment each year and provide access to higher education for more of the region’s students.

“But people can’t advocate for us if they don’t know our story — and know it well enough that they can tell it to others,” Sheley said. “All of us at the university need to tell that story such that people understand why an education at CSU Stanislaus matters to this region and beyond.”

Sheley said that while those outside the university often clamor for a greater focus on academic programs that lead directly to specific jobs — such as those in business, health, science and teaching — he stressed the importance of the core liberal arts and sciences curriculum of the campus as providing an overall education that prepares students for a successful career.

“Regardless of major, our alumni possess foundational skills — critical thinking, comprehension, communication, and not just problem solving, but problem identification,” Sheley said. “They’ve honed those skills within their specific major, be it professional or in the liberal arts and sciences. The major extends the foundation, but the foundation carries the day.”

Among the foundational elements of a CSU Stanislaus education, Sheley said, none is more important across all careers and academic disciplines than writing. It’s a skill too infrequently emphasized, and Sheley said that while the university already does a good job teaching it, a comprehensive commitment to improving writing across campus and throughout the region could create a signature for the university and improve the success of all of its graduates.

“Good writing requires and enhances the ability to think critically, to research, to formulate arguments, to persuade, and to empathize with one’s audience, whether that audience is an employer, a customer, a constituent, a professor or a student,” Sheley said. “Writing is a skill that can benefit nearly anyone in nearly any circumstance, professionally and personally. And it is a lifelong practice.”

James Leonard

jleonard1@csustan.edu