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university accountability

The California State University has moved from a regulation-driven, heavily centralized and bureaucratized "system" to a community of distinct and diverse campuses. Each campus serves broad statewide purposes through a quite distinct mix of programs and fields of study. Each campus shares the fundamental commitment to teaching excellence, community service, and advanced scholarship, but does so with an attentive eye to distinct local and regional needs.

Cornerstones affirms this movement towards decentralization and the differentiation of campus identities, in a context of shared goals and broad commitments to the people of California. We do not pretend this balance between broad statewide commitments and local campus autonomy is easy or formulaic. It is created in a context of mutual accountability, increased clarity about goals, and better communication about results.

Cornerstones itself expresses the delicate complexity of drafting broad policy goals for a community of different campuses. The CSU can be more than the sum of its parts; it can stand for more than the particular identities of its individual campuses; it can make common commitments to California. At the same time, we believe in greater flexibility and autonomy in how campuses implement those commitments.

In the development of a comprehensive system of mutual accountability, then, the CSU should affirm two principles. First, we will account for our performance as a community in honoring the educational commitments we make to the people of California. We are confident in reporting to the people of the state our achievements.

Second, we will insist on the greatest possible autonomy for campuses to reach our statewide goals, and we will honor the quite diverse nature of our campuses and the students who attend them. Any system of annual reports, for example, should focus on the substantive educational value added for students of quite different backgrounds and appreciate the success of students who manage to acquire an education in the midst of raising families and working.


PRINCIPLE 9: The California State University will account for its performance in facilitating the development of its students, in serving the communities in which we reside, and in the continued contribution to the California economy and society, through regular assessment of student achievement, and through periodic reports to the public regarding our broader performance.

The recommendations in support of this principle provide:

9a. The CSU will expand and/or develop mechanisms for assessing institutional performance in the areas of student achievement, student satisfaction, the quality of teaching and support services, administrative effectiveness, the provision of service to the community and to the state's economy and society, alumni satisfaction, employer satisfaction, and faculty and staff satisfaction.

9b. The CSU will develop a variety of annual reports, appropriately formatted to reach different audiences, which will serve to inform the public regarding our performance.

9c. The CSU will strengthen employee performance assessment through the careful development of both comprehensive system policies and campus-specific procedures implementing those policies.


PRINCIPLE 10: The California State University campuses shall have significant autonomy in developing their own missions, identity, and programs, with institutional flexibility in meeting clearly defined system policy goals.

The recommendations supporting this principle are:

10a. CSU campuses will have greater opportunity and incentive to create more options for flexible hiring, professional growth opportunities, and remuneration practices for faculty and staff, within the parameters of collective bargaining.

10b. CSU campuses will have greater options to develop community/industry partnerships in both program design and teaching, and expand the use of off-campus facilities.

10c. The CSU will streamline the system process governing program development and program approval, minimizing standardization and maximizing institutional flexibility. All of this will balance against greater system accountability for outcomes; thus, campuses will meet agreed upon performance standards while having greater flexibility regarding program design standards.

10d. The CSU will work cooperatively with external agencies (WASC, CPEC, etc.), to facilitate appropriate approvals of new and experimental programs, and to develop appropriate accountability frameworks.

10e. The CSU will provide system funding for "start-up" and innovative programs.

10f. The CSU system will review current Title 5 and university code requirements to eliminate regulatory constraints where possible.