About Cornerstones

The CSU has completed a major systemwide strategic planning initiative called Cornerstones. Cornerstones was stimulated in part by the Association of Governing Boards and the Pew Trusts Higher Education Round Table. These associations incorporated a national roundtable effort to model discussions about planning and reframing higher education for the future.

They requested that CSU participate in this project to be the first national example of a public, multicampus system planning effort involving trustees and faculty in deliberations about future plans and decisions. The purpose was to generate steps to meet the challenges of the next decade. The organizing principle was the CSU's four fundamental commitments -- these are the university's four "cornerstones":

  • First, we have promised the highest standards of undergraduate education. We must define what the public can expect from a CSU education: what we expect our graduates to have learned and how we will assess that learning.
  • Second, we have promised to meet the demand for higher education in California with the available resources.
  • Third, we are answerable to the people of California, and accountable for our performance.
  • Fourth, we have a non-negotiable commitment to serve the changing educational needs of the state and its people.

Now we tried to answer how, not whether, we can make good on these commitments. The Cornerstones project had two dimensions: the work of a small group of "Cornerstones members," and the broader involvement of the CSU community. Working in tandem, these two processes produced policy recommendations around each of the University's four cornerstones. Where we are and what we have done within this bi-dimensional work plan has been detailed below.

Where We Are Going

The Cornerstones Report was endorsed as a systemwide planning framework by the Board of Trustees on January 28, 1998. The next phase includes working with campuses to develop best methods and practices to implement the stated principles and recommendations. Status reports will be made to the Board of Trustees on an on-going basis.

How Cornerstones Was Structured

The Cornerstones group was composed of twenty-four members representing trustees, faculty, students, presidents, and senior system administrators. The group was facilitated and led by Thomas Ehrlich, CSU Distinguished Scholar. He has been supported by a core staff of three individuals: Charles Lindahl, Interim Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Brian Murphy and Jane Wellman, Special Assistants for Planning to the Chancellor.

Much of the early work was accomplished by four Cornerstones task forces. The task forces were organized around the four cornerstones of the CSU. Each included members of Cornerstones and partners from the broader CSU community and beyond. The four task forces were:

Learning for the 21st Century
Chair: Jim Highsmith

Meeting the Enrollment and Resource Challenge
Chair: Molly Corbett Broad

Institutional Integrity, Performance, and Accountability
Chair: Bernie Goldstein

Postbaccalaureate and Continuing Education: Helping Shape California's Future
Chair: Stephen Weber

The task forces completed their papers in March, 1997. These papers, together with the Principles Document, were the basis of consultation processes in the Spring of 1997 that started with the Academic Conference in February and continued throughout the term with campus based forums and meetings. Cornerstones members attended these consultations and received feedback on the Principles Document. Over the summer, revisions were made to the document which produced the August draft of the Cornerstones Report.

Similar campus consultations occurred throughout the Fall semester and final thoughts were received from campus constituencies. Utilizing these comments, a final draft of the Cornerstones report was rewritten and accepted by members in early December. This final draft was then adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees.

Content Contact:
Trudy Hernandez
(562) 951-4669
Technical Contact: