Campus: CSU, Fresno -- November 12, 1999

National College Week Nov. 15-19 Focuses On Fresno State's High Academic Quality, Low Cost

California State University, Fresno provides a quality education at one of the most affordable rates in the nation.

That is the message that Dr. J Michael Ortiz, provost and vice president of academic affairs, will drive home during National College Week Nov. 15-19 at two special events on Monday and Thursday.

Sponsored nationwide by the U.S. Department of Education, National College Week will be used by universities and colleges across the country to emphasize that Americans can achieve their dream of a college education with the proper academic preparation and informed financial planning.

Ortiz will deliver that message first on Monday, Nov. 15, during a special reception for about 150 schoolchildren from the Accelerated Learning Academy established by the Clovis Unified School District. The reception, which will feature a demonstration of the popular Science Mania program, will be in the Residence Dining Hall from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

The academy is a symbol of a commitment by Fresno State and Clovis Unified to foster high standards, said Ortiz.

Currently in its first year, the program involves about 100 third, fourth and fifth graders from the school district who performed well -- scoring above the 70th percentile -- on the Stanford 9 achievement tests, but whose economic background could impede their chances of attending college.

"The academy prepares them academically and spurs their interest in succeeding in school so they set pursuit of a college degree as a goal," Ortiz said.

Every summer, the students will attend a six-week enrichment program and throughout the year are monitored and assisted until they graduate from high school when they are automatically admitted into Fresno State. A new group of third graders will be added each year.

"This is a seven-year commitment for the students," said Edwin Javis, principal of Cole Elementary School in Clovis and the program's coordinator. He explains that the students are from minority or low socio-economic backgrounds that show high academic potential but are at risk of "falling through the cracks."

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"We identify them early and stay with them to make sure we don't lose them," Javis said. "The program provides them a safety net."

Monday's reception will serve as a reminder to the students that their efforts are recognized and that the system has not forgotten them, Javis said. At the reception, the academy students will also participate in Science Mania, an entertaining interactive program that illustrates basic science concepts in a dynamic and unforgettable way, said Dr. David Frank, Fresno State chemistry professor.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, Ortiz will travel to Parlier High School where, in a speech to several joint classes, he will deliver a personal appeal to set high academic standards while dispelling the notion that college is unattainably expensive.

"Like many rural high schools in our service area, Parlier students are largely Hispanic, lower income and tend to feel college is out of their reach," said Ortiz, who hopes his visit will also have a positive role model impact.

"I want to encourage them to set their academic standards high and that the costs to attend college are not as high as they think," Ortiz said. "They can attend college in their own backyard, save money and receive a great education."

Ortiz and other university officials feel that message rings especially true for prospective Fresno State students.

"We hope to overcome the myth that the cost to get a college education cannot be overcome," said Bernie Vinovrski, assistant vice president of enrollment services. "Fresno State is one of the least expensive four-year institutions in the country, especially compared to other CSUs in the larger cities."

He notes that the CSU's annual fee of $1,746, which has not been raised since 1994, is less than the average fee for every other state university in the nation.

Adding in books and living expenses, such as room and board, transportation and personal expenditures, the cost to attend Fresno State averages about $7,000 year living on campus or $3,000 as a commuter -- one of the least expensive comprehensive universities in the nation, Vinovrski said.

Other university events occurring during National College Week include University Open House on Saturday, Nov. 13, and Education Recognition Day on Sat., Nov. 20, when employees of area schools will be guests at the Bulldogs football season finale against San Jose State University.

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