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Academic Senate

Highlights of the March 24-26, 2014 Board of Trustees Meeting


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Steven Stepanek (CSU Northridge)

The Board of Trustees met in closed session on the morning of March 24th to interview the finalists for the position of President of Humboldt State University.  On March 26th, it was announced that Lisa A. Rossbacher had accepted the position.  She will be the university’s seventh, and the first female, president to lead Humboldt State in the campus’ 100-year history.

The Board approved the naming of the CSU Northridge College of Business and Economics as the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics in recognition of the $10 million contribution by David Nazarian to the College to support strategic initiatives and priorities. In addition, Mr. Nazarian is committed to helping the College raise another $15 million in the next three to five years.  Members of Mr. Nazarian’s extended family were present at the Board meeting to hear a presentation by Mr. Nazarian and speeches by the Chancellor and CSU Northridge President Dianne Harrison in recognition of Mr. Nazarian’s commitment to the College.

The Board also approved the naming of the CSU Fresno Softball Diamond in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics as the Margie Wright Diamond in recognition of the support Coach Margie Wright provided to the sport over the years. Margie Wright, who retired in May 2012 from coaching softball at Fresno State, was present to receive recognition by the Chancellor and CSU Fresno President Joseph Castro for her overall leadership in NCAA softball activities and her oversight in the design and construction of what is considered a premier collegiate softball stadium. 

The Board heard a presentation from CSSA requesting a system-wide voluntary $4 student fee to cover CSSA expenses, the “Student Involvement and Representation Fee (SIRF).”  This was a first reading for potential action during the May Board meeting.  The fee would replace the current funding structure for CSSA, which is approximately half-funded by the Office of the Chancellor and half-funded by a student population-based fee, each campus student government organization pays to CSSA.  ASCSU Chair Diana Guerin briefly spoke in support of this proposal.

Reports on the progress of the Early Start Program and reducing bottlenecks were given.  Early Start is a trustee initiative approved in May 2009 with the mandate that, beginning with the class of 2012, all new freshmen who do not demonstrate college-readiness in mathematics and/or English be required to begin to address these deficiencies either at a CSU campus, at a community college, or at high school before they start their first term at a CSU. This initiative actually built on prior projects with K-12 to enable students to arrive at the CSU proficient for college-level work. The performance of students who participated in the 2012 and 2013 summer Early Start Program was reported. Overall, the data shows that even with 15-hour Early Start summer courses, Early Start participants had a shorter average time to proficiency than their “should-have” peers.  For the 2013 fall term, 57% of all entering freshmen were considered proficient in both mathematics and English.

The reports on reducing bottlenecks focused on the student survey results, the department chair survey results, and current actions to improve student success in these areas with a focus on the use of technology. The current Course Redesign Project was covered; this initiative integrates the use of technology to address bottleneck issues in courses from over 25 disciplines. CourseMatch, which allows students from one CSU campus to take online course from another CSU campus, was discussed.  How technology is being used to support virtual labs in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) disciplines was addressed, and the redesign of academic advisement through the use of advanced, computer-based tools was commented on. I reminded the presenters and the trustees that technology can assist in solving the bottleneck problems, but it is not a replacement for the hiring of tenure-track faculty, especially in growing disciplines.

The Board approved the updated CSU Academic Master Plan Ten-Year Overview of Future Programs document listing programs planned for implementation between 2014-2015 and 2024-2025.  As part of the discussion on the Academic Master Plan was an update on the current Title 5 requirement regarding 120 semester/180 quarter units being the ceiling for all B.A. and B.S. degree programs.  Most of this conversation focused on the issue of engineering programs and their difficulties in achieving this goal. The Chancellor discussed his plans for the creation of an advisory group to review the overall needs of engineering toward making a recommendation to him regarding how engineering can meet their accreditation and professional need requirements while achieving some measure of progress toward reduced time and units to graduation. Current plans call for me to serve on this advisory group.

As part of ASCSU Chair Diana Guerin’s report, she introduced Professor Sue Holl from CSU Sacramento. Dr. Holl received the 2013 CSU Sacramento Livingston Award and is the Chair of the Mechanical Engineering department. Dr. Holl spoke on the impact of the Title 5 requirement for engineering programs to reduce to 120 semester units.

The Board heard a joint presentation by CSU Chancellor White, University of California (UC) President Napolitano, and Californiat Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor Harris. The three system leaders all started in their positions within the last 12 months. They discussed the need to revitalize collaborative efforts between the three systems and pointed out that common contracts are already in place for some common support services including travel management (CSU/UC), energy efficiency projects, and computer hardware/software contracts. UC President Napolitano commented on the need for that system to streamline transfers. CCC Chancellor Harris covered some of the challenges of the 112 community college system, such as: restoring the loss of access that occurred in recent years, the importance of transfer degrees, and outreach to high schools on the importance of higher education to be expanded to the 7th grade. On the issue of electronic transcripts from community colleges, Chancellor Harris commented that the big issue is the integration of existing CCC data and record-keeping practices. In closing, Harris expressed concerns about the state’s expectations of higher education and the capacity-handling abilities of all three systems; Napolitano commented on the need for the state to invest in higher education.

Board Chair Linscheid eulogized the recent passing of Trustee William Hauck, and the Board posthumously conferred the title of Trustee Emeritus upon William Hauck.  Trustee Hauck’s wife was present to hear the commendations made in his honor and to receive his emeritus plaque.

Chancellor White announced the return of the Wang Family Excellence Award after an extended absence (https://www.calstate.edu/faculty_staff/wang-awards/).