Academic Senate

Report of the Faculty Trustee

Steven Stepanek, Faculty Trustee (Northridge)
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July 2015

Academic Efficiencies and Effectiveness
During the May 19-20, 2015 meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees, a presentation was given on Academic Efficiencies and Effectiveness.  This was a follow-up to the report on Administrative Efficiency Initiatives given at the March 2015 Board of Trustees meeting.  Efficiency was described as “more outputs per input” with a stress on the importance of “opportunity, quality, and success” in the projects initiated.  Here are some of the projects mentioned:

  • $30 million in saving for students from rent digital program, used book programs and book buyback programs
  • $1.6 million savings in plagiarism detection software through system licensing
  • $10 million savings in single application for admission
  • $500,000 savings in system licensing of the eAdvising system
  • Savings by reaching out to high schools and community colleges to improve student readiness for entry into the CSU (vs. the CSU handling all additional courses a student may need to be college ready)
  • Use of hybrid and virtual science labs
  • Use of Supplemental Instruction courses
  • CSU libraries’ agreement to adopt a single virtual platform to catalog their separate collections
  • Economy of scale savings for CSU initiatives, such as: Institute for Teaching and Learning, international programs, academic technology projects, student academic support, CSU Summer Arts, and CalStateTEACH
  • Graduation initiatives

It was stated that many of these initiatives not only save money, but also directly contribute to improved student performance.  During the Q/A session, a trustee reflected back on a statement made during an earlier report on the Cal State Online initiative that multiple LMS (Learning Management System) platforms are being supported, and asked if we had considered adoption of a single standard LMS environment for the entire system.  This touched off an interesting conversation on the academic reasons why the CSU currently supports and licenses multiple standards for LMS environments.

Here is my question for you to ponder during summer: When is it appropriate to have a single system standard, and when should individual campus wishes and needs prevail?  Where do we draw the line between individual campus rights and system needs?

We have a common admissions form. We, in theory, have a common records management system (PeopleSoft), but each campus has been permitted to customize it to its own needs, resulting in an inability for an advisor on one campus to retrieve the complete academic records for a student who attended multiple CSU campuses, even though the data might exist on the same computer.  Should General Education section certification be established between CSU campuses similar to what exists between the California community colleges and the CSU?  Should CSU campus GE requirements be standardized and expanded to include new required categories to address current social issues?  Should the Early Start experience be standardized?  Should there be just one LMS system within the CSU, since students now may be taking online courses from other than their home campuses?

I could provide more examples, but I will stop here and wish you a productive, but also relaxing summer.

My full reports on Board of Trustee meetings can be found here.