May 23, 2018
Dear Campus Community,
If one word could characterize this past year, it would be reinvigoration—meaning a sense of excitement, revitalization, renewal. When I meet and speak with many on campus and in the community, I come away with a joyful feeling of reaffirming the best of our past accomplishments. I am energized by how we are renewing our enduring commitment to our amazing and remarkable campus.
This optimistic sense of reinvigoration informs our aspirations, but more important is now guiding our actions. As I reflect on this year, I think it is important for us to look at our past accomplishments and challenges while focusing on what they mean for building our future.
We have had many important successes this past year. Here are some of the most notable achievements this past year.
University Strategic Plan
First, I want to thank everyone—faculty, students, staff and managers for their active participation and feedback as we worked together to create our new University Strategic Plan 2025: A Sense of Place, Inclusion, Transformation and Future, that will set our direction the years ahead. Thanks to you, Stan State’s impact in our community and region continues to grow as we apply innovative solutions to recurring and new challenges, from ensuring student access and success to strengthening the University’s commitment to public engagement and investment. We have entered a time in which our immediate priorities focus on supporting the success of our students, faculty and staff in fresh and exciting ways.
I am proud that our campus community is organizing itself to be a student-ready University as stated in our University Strategic Plan, committed to the academic success and achievement of our students. Empowering our students to positively transform their lives, to inform the practice of their chosen profession, and to exercise civic rights and responsibilities to transform their communities is at the core of what we do here at Stan State.
Academic Affairs Updates and CSU and Board of Trustees’ Graduation Rate Initiative (GI) 2025 and Preparing for WASC Visit
As a result of our combined efforts toward helping students succeed as part of the CSU Graduation Initiative (GI) 2025, Provost Kim Greer reports that our 6-year graduation rate increased by 2.4 percent and we reduced the Pell gap by 1.6 percent this year. However, there are still other GI metrics that did not show improvement, so we will continue to enhance our efforts to more systematically study our successful student support programs and initiatives as we consider implementing or strengthening support programs that do make a difference for our student retention, graduation and success. I am confident that we will reach and even exceed our goals as defined by the Chancellor’s Office, and I applaud everyone’s collaboration and commitment to improving our graduation rates. Every person on campus, no matter what position, can play a significant role in helping our students succeed, so thank you for caring about our remarkable students.
Another critical and exciting initiative focuses on the campus’ preparation for our upcoming WASC reaffirmation of accreditation process. Academic Affairs has taken the lead role in convening participating partners on campus, and collecting, analyzing and presenting our campus data and student success outcomes. Many thanks to Dr. Christopher Claus and Dr. Shawna Young for leading the writing of our WASC institutional report. Please stay tuned on how you can support this process this Fall and welcome our WASC visiting team who will arrive next Spring for our campus visit.
In addition, I hope the faculty have noticed and appreciated the excellent Academic Affairs e-newsletter that comes from the Provost’s Office to inform and update the faculty and others across the campus of important upcoming events and activities. Please stayed tuned to all of the important and timely information from Provost Kim Greer.
Stockton Center Update
At the Stockton Center, we have made significant strides in developing a strategic plan and direction that is reflective of the community and the University. The Stockton Warrior Team--comprised of representatives from the Chancellor’s Office, Dean Faimous Harrison, Provost Kim Greer, Vice President Darrell Haydon, other members of our campus, key community partners in the city and legislature, the Grupe Company, along with a member of our CSU Board of Trustees and myself—has been working tirelessly to design a re-imagined Stockton Center that will offer a viable and more conducive learning environment with modern technology and the possibility of a new facility. Moreover, with leadership from Vice President Gitanjali Kaul and Provost Kim Greer, Stockton Center Dean Faimous Harrison and other Deans, this June we will sign our first official Memo of Understanding (MOU) with San Joaquin Delta College, ensuring that Delta students who meet academic standards and want to be part of our Warriors on the Way program (WOW) will be guaranteed enrollment in five degree completion programs with clear course scheduling sequences at the Stockton Center. We will hold a campus-wide Stockton Center Update Forum this Fall to provide more exciting details.
Diversity and Inclusion at Stanislaus State
This year there were some special moments and historic achievements that celebrated the importance of diversity and inclusion on campus and in the city. The President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) was awarded $50,000 to support programs across campus focused on improving campus climate, along with hosting a variety of campus talks and activities and supporting faculty research. In addition, the PCDI was charged with developing our new campus Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan to be reviewed by the Senate this fall. Earlier this year, we were proud to dedicate the University’s first “Diversity Center.” In the Fall, students will formalize a process to select the official name for the Center. Also this past year, the campus launched our student-created slogan and banners, “We STANd Together for Unity and Inclusion”, and participated in a joint City of Turlock and Stanislaus State Diversity Summit, that will lead to the formation of a city-university Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion later this Fall.
Student Services Supports
It was exciting to see a number of important new Student Affairs’ initiatives come to fruition this past year. One major new addition that has been greatly appreciated by students both at our Turlock and Stockton campuses has been the reinstatement of our Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC), directed by Julie Sedlemeyer. The CPDC has hosted a wide variety of workshops and career fairs that have been well attended by students. As mentioned before, Student Affairs also launched the opening of our “Diversity Center” and an interim coordinator will be appointed this summer. Though we are sad to see Dr. Suzanne Espinoza, Vice President for Student Affairs, depart for CSU East Bay, we are excited to have Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Paz Olivérez, along with Associate Vice President for Student Success, Dr. “Fuji” Collins both join us in June. Please welcome them when you see them.
Human Resources and Professional Development
This past year, under the leadership of Senior Associate Vice President, Julie Johnson, the Division of Human Resources, Equal Opportunity and Compliance has worked hard to improve, streamline and facilitate greater employee success. Perhaps their largest effort involved our much needed campus staff equity analysis and implementation process. They also have actively supported additional trainings for staff and managers and will continue to enhance the professional development of all employees across campus next year.
Under the exemplary and able leadership of Vice President for University Advancement Dr. Michele Lahti, and Senior Associate Vice President for Communications, Marketing, and Media Relations. Dr. Rosalee Rush, the campus has exceeded our annual target goals in fund-raising, alumni engagement and community connections. For example, just under two years, we have raised a total of over $9M, far exceeding our two-year goal of $6M, and increasing our alumni giving participation. Furthermore, our national visibility on a range of national ranking systems continues to put Stan State in the top headlines. In the coming years, we look forward to continuing to strengthen and rebrand our external image in the community and forge new external ties and philanthropic partnerships.
Facilities and Buildings Update
This year marks the historic demolition of our over 40-year-old Student Union with a new state-of-the-art glorious building designed and created by our amazing ASI and USU student leadership to take shape and be opened in two years. Then in another year from now, the remodel of our University Library will commence and once again re-emerge as a modern, accessible, exciting and technology-enabled learning and gathering space for students, including some student service offices. As we ramp up these significant facilities transformations, Vice President for Business and Finance and Chief Financial Officer Darrell Haydon will schedule some campus meetings and open forums this Fall to alert everyone to these upcoming transitions and temporary space plans for the campus. With all of these significant moves in play, our campus will experience a severe shortage for event spaces, so we ask in advance for your understanding and flexibility as we cope with these disruptive, albeit temporary growing pains.
To ensure the bubbling up of creative, new ideas in alignment with our newly approved and adopted University Strategic Plan, we launched this spring the Innovate, Design, Excel and Assess for Success (IDEAS) grant program run by Vice President for Strategic Planning, Enrollment Management and Innovation (SPEMI), Dr. Gitanjali Kaul. The IDEAS initiative seeks to solicit ideas related to improving our campus environment. Eight creative proposals geared toward helping the University work smarter were funded. Please visit the website for more on the winners and how to apply for grants next year, and watch for a campus-wide IDEAS showcase later next year.
Another exciting pilot involved approximately 30 students who registered to take our new Design Your Tomorrow certificate course, which is modeled after the Stanford Design Your Life series. This CEU course (Continuing Education Unit course offered through University Extended Education) was team taught by Dr. Bruce Hesse, Dr. Harold Stanislaw, Dr. Ellen Bell and Julie Sedlemeyer, and is an innovative workshop certificate course that actively guides students in laying out their goals and creating a career path. I am especially excited that Provost Kim Greer and I have agreed to team teach another section to be offered this Fall! The original team will offer a short summer institute later this summer for faculty who may want to explore and consider teaching Design Your Tomorrow courses in the future. So watch your emails for more information on the upcoming Design Your Tomorrow Institute this summer!
As for our student achievements, I was very happy to hear that one of our students, Mara Hernandez, a graduate student in the genetic counseling master’s program, took first place in the CSU Statewide Student Research Competition earlier this month. Additionally, three Stan State students were selected as Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program Scholars. Selection to this program is a testament to their passion and commitment to complete their doctorates with the hopes of returning as future faculty members in the CSU. Sincere thanks also go to the many active faculty who have engaged, supported and mentored students in their own scholarly, research and creative activities—these practices represent High Impact Practices (HIPs), and helps our students become even more successful for graduate school and for their future professions.
Similarly, in the area of faculty, I am also pleased to have finished reading the RPT (Retention, Promotion and Tenure) files of our talented and dedicated faculty, and am happy to report that we tenured and promoted a total of 22 faculty this year! Hearty thanks to all of the tenured and tenure-track faculty for their continued excellence. We also continue to salute our more than 300 dedicated lecturers who continue to teach our students.
So as you can tell from the length of this end-of-the-year letter, it has indeed been a VERY BUSY year! Thank you to all of you! We have so much to be grateful for our past achievements and our future possibilities!
A final word about what for many is the happiest day on campus—the two days of our University Commencement ceremonies— is the hallmark of academic achievement for our deserving, hard-working, and pioneering students! Last year, we graduated a record number of more than 3,000 students, and this year, are expected to graduate an even higher number of students!
I hope you enjoy your summer! My heartfelt thanks to each of you, for your hard work, dedication and commitment to supporting our students, campus and our region! I encourage everyone to take some well-deserved time to rest, recharge and reflect, and I look forward to seeing you at our Commencement ceremonies this week!
BRAVO and GO WARRIORS!