Campus: CSU East Bay -- September 21, 2005

President Rees Announces Retirement

Norma Rees announced today to an audience of faculty, staff, students and community leaders that she would resign as president of California State University, East Bay at the end of the academic year in June 2006.

"Although my health and spirit are just fine, it is time to go," President Rees said in her annual state of the university speech at Cal State East Bay's fall convocation. "I will always cherish my years here, and mostly the wonderful people I have worked with who have let me serve as a cheerleader to their exceptional activities and accomplishments.

"During the year ahead, I promise all of you, our students, our alumni and supporters my full energies to bring this university that I love as many steps as possible toward our future goals. Thank you for the privilege of working with you. My warmest wishes for a great future."

"The California State University owes many thanks to President Norma Rees for her long and distinguished service to Cal State East Bay and to the entire CSU system," CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said Tuesday. "Since becoming president in 1990, Norma has put students first and I appreciate her dedication and caring. We will miss her and wish her all the best as she retires."

President Rees said she assured Chancellor Reed that she would remain until the California State University Board of Trustees appoints a new president next spring or summer in the culmination of a nationwide search.

The California State University Board of Trustees, in partnership with the chancellor, is responsible for the recruitment, selection and appointment of Rees' successor.

California State University Chairman Murray Galinson could appoint members of a five-member trustees presidential search committee, including Chancellor Reed, as soon as November. That will be followed by the selection of representatives from Cal State East Bay's faculty, staff, alumni, students and community members to an advisory group that will work with the trustees' committee. The trustees selection committee will send its final recommendation to the chancellor, who then will forward it to the full CSU Board of Trustees, which makes the appointment.

"Although my health and spirit are just fine, it is time to go," President Rees told the convocation audience. "I will especially cherish the wonderful people I have worked with who let me serve as a cheerleader to their exceptional activities and accomplishments.

"During the year ahead I promise to devote my full energies to bring the university I love as many steps as possible toward our future goals."

"Norma Rees is an outstanding leader who has taken Cal State East Bay to great heights," said Don Sawyer, Cal State East Bay Academic Senate president. "She not only made an enormous difference in the progress of this university, but in the lives of all of those associated with it."

President Rees took over the reins at then-named California State University, Hayward in July of 1990, coming from Massachusetts, where she had been the vice chancellor for academic affairs, policy and planning for the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education since 1987. She had previously held executive appointments in the Wisconsin State system of higher education and the City University of New York system.

President Rees leaves an extensive legacy at the university, including $70 million in capital construction currently underway, successful completion of a $10.5 million fund-raising effort last year, and the launching of a "Students First" policy that helped contribute to six consecutive quarters of enrollment growth before state budget cutbacks kicked in two years ago.

In the fall of 2004 and in early 2005 she successfully led an effort to have the name of the university changed to Cal State East Bay to better reflect the Bay Area region it serves. The CSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of her proposal after considering the views of students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community.

Local, Regional, International Growth

The name change was another effort by President Rees to help the university link with the 2.5 million residents of 33 cities and the unincorporated areas of the East Bay as well as with international partners. With campuses in Hayward and Concord, a professional development center in downtown Oakland, and courses or programs offered in Union City, Richmond, San Pablo, San Ramon and elsewhere throughout the East Bay, President Rees said the name change demonstrated that Cal State East Bay was truly the state university of the entire East Bay.

Expansion into the local community as well as internationally has been a hallmark of President Rees' tenure at Cal State East Bay. Behind her leadership, the Concord Campus has grown to become a satellite campus of 1,500 students. The university's presence in Oakland includes development of the downtown Cal State East Bay Oakland Professional Development Conference Center as well as the Small Business Development Center, a joint venture with the U. S. Small Business Administration and the Northern California Small Business Development Center Network.

In 1992, President Rees led a delegation to Moscow where the university signed protocols that led Cal State East Bay to establish an American-style executive MBA program there that today is one of the top-rated business programs in Russia. There are more than 600 graduates of the Cal State East Bay executive MBA program in Russia.

Establishment of the Moscow program was followed by the university's development of similar programs in Hong Kong, Singapore and in Vienna and Graz, Austria.

The university's international reputation helped it to attract international students to the point where today it has representation from 144 countries on its campuses and a higher percentage of international students than any university in the 23-campus CSU system.

Focus on Academics, Students

As a university president in one of the world's most technology-intensive regions, Rees presided over development of the university's first biotechnology program, its first engineering program - accredited in its first year of eligibility - and the unprecedented team-based multimedia master's degree program. Among the many other academic programs developed under Rees leadership were the master's degree program in social work and cutting-edge online courses that allow the university to educate students from anywhere in the world where there is Internet access.

President Rees has been an advocate for students, encouraging their participation on more than a dozen campus committees and hosting student leaders at her Hayward home. The chair of the Associated Students student government organization has a seat on her cabinet. In recent years she has worked to increase the number of first-year students by encouraging the freshman "cluster" program, that led to a significant increase in the number of first-time freshmen enrolled last year.

When President Rees retires in the middle of next year it will be close to the expected completion dates on building projects undertaken during her administration that amount to the most ambitious series of structural improvements on the Hayward campus in 30 years.

Not since 1971 has the university had so many projects under way at the same time.

When completed in late 2006, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Business and Technology Center will serve as a campus headquarters for technology-enhanced teaching, learning and research in several academic disciplines. The 67,000 square-foot facility will provide a state-of-the-art home for the College of Business and Economics and programs in engineering, multimedia production, K-12 teaching and learning technology, science and online degree programs.

President Rees led a campaign that raised $10.5 million in private contributions toward the project that was combined with $11.5 million in state bond funds.

She supported a student initiative in 2000 that resulted in setting aside fees for the construction of a 28,000 square-foot addition to the University Union. That project is scheduled for completion next summer.

One of her initiatives to encourage more enrollment by freshmen and sophomores and to energize the campus with more young people who live on campus was to encourage construction that will double the size of the Pioneer Heights residence hall complex. The project, scheduled for completion late next spring, includes construction of three residence buildings and an administration center that will increase the number of students living on campus to more than 800.

'A Valued Colleague'

"Norma Rees has been a valued colleague for more than 20 years and I will miss her greatly," said Robert Corrigan, president of San Francisco State University. " We worked together in the public urban university movement when she was at the University of Wisconsin, and again in Massachusetts, when she served the board of regents as vice chancellor for academic affairs. She has consistently demonstrated vision, courage and a commitment to making the student experience her top priority.

"She has earned international recognition for Cal State East Bay, while building a strong regional presence. The continued growth and development of the campus will be a testament to her leadership."

President Rees earned her bachelor's degree from Queens College and master's degree from Brooklyn College, both in speech pathology and audiology. She received her doctorate in speech from New York University. She has taught speech pathology courses in the City University of New York system and is a tenured professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Cal State East Bay.

She is a member of the Alameda County Economic Development Alliance for Business, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the Bay Area World Trade Center. She has served on the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity and the Steering Committee for Urban Affairs of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. She also served as president of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce.

Actively involved in school-to-career issues, she has been a member of the School-to-Career program in Hayward and in 1998 was appointed to the Governor's School-to-Career Advisory Council, on which she served until 2002.

President Rees has been a keynote speaker at Leadership California, Leadership Hayward, and Leadership Concord.

She has spoken on leadership in education and women in leadership before many groups, including the American Association of University Women, Retired Teachers of Alameda County, the Federal Women's Program of the IRS and many East Bay Rotary clubs. A member of professional societies in the field of speech pathology, she is author of books, chapters and articles on topics in language development and language disorders.

Contact: Kim Huggett, Director of Public Affairs (510) 885-2032

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