Chancellor's Communication-September 16, 2002


 

September 16, 2002
 
TO:         CSU Colleagues
FROM:    CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed
RE:         CSU Update
 

Welcome to a new academic year at the California State University. I hope that you all had an enjoyable summer term and are returning with renewed energy and enthusiasm for the year ahead.

For those of you who are new to the California State University system, and as a reminder to those who are returning, I send out these e-mail communications on a periodic basis to keep you informed about systemwide news and issues. I hope that these communications will be helpful to you throughout the academic year.

The CSU's main priorities for the year ahead can be summed up by three "P's" - preserving access, providing quality instruction, and preparing students for the workforce.

Preserving Access
The CSU's priority of preserving access is drawn from its mission to serve all eligible California students. Our ability to fulfill this mission is primarily affected by two factors: our budget and our enrollment demand.

On September 5, the governor signed into law a 2002/03 state budget that included $2.68 billion for the CSU. We are currently awaiting more details from the state's Department of Finance about what the budget means for our campuses. But we are preparing for the possibility that we may face additional cuts for the current year, given that the new budget calls for certain unspecified cuts that the governor will have to identify and implement. While we wait for more news, I have asked the campus presidents to manage their budgets very carefully. I will share any new budget information with you as soon as we receive it.

One thing we do know about the 2002/03 budget is that it provided funding for a 5 percent enrollment increase, or 15,000 new FTE students. The fact that we received this increase during a tough budget year is good news because we are currently forecasting another year of record enrollment increases. For 2002/03, we are estimating that we will serve 22,000 additional students, or about a 7 percent increase over last year's funded enrollment. Even though we will enroll more students than we are funded for, we are going to continue to do everything in our power to fulfill our mission and serve these students with the high-quality instruction and services that they expect of the CSU. I want to thank all of you for helping us to serve these students during a time of tight budgets and continuing enrollment pressure.

Providing Quality Instruction
A second major priority is to continue to provide quality instruction at our institutions. Part of this effort involves taking an in-depth look at our faculty positions. Over the summer, representatives from the Chancellor's Office, the Statewide Academic Senate, and the California Faculty Association worked together to develop a plan to raise the percentage of tenured and tenure-track faculty at the CSU to at least 75 percent. The CSU has now submitted the plan to the legislature, which had requested such a plan in ACR (Assembly Concurrent Resolution) 73.

We expect to include a request of $35.6 million to fund the first year of this eight-year plan in the Board of Trustees' 2003/04 support budget. If the plan is funded, we would be able to expand the current number of faculty searches, make the competitive compensation offers that are required in this market, and begin to improve the student-faculty ratio. This plan represents an important investment in maintaining the high quality of instruction provided by the CSU. Thanks to all who participated in this collaborative effort.

Another critical issue related to the quality of our educational offerings is a bond measure on the November ballot to support construction of facilities for all segments of California's public educational system, kindergarten through university. If approved, Prop. 47 would provide a total of $1.65 billion for 2002/03 and 2003/04 for the CSU, the University of California, and the California Community Colleges. CSU campuses would receive approximately $495 million for capital construction and improvements. I urge you to learn more about this proposition before Election Day. For more information and for a list of projects that would be funded by this bond, see http://www.calstate.edu/pa/news/2002/prop47nr.shtml.

Preparing Students for the Workforce
Our third priority relates to our goal of preparing students to contribute to California's economy and society, a goal that was identified in our Cornerstones strategic plan. To help us fulfill that goal, we have launched a new initiative to help us identify and create more learning opportunities that connect with "real world" contexts. In the first stage of this initiative, we will be seeking input from all members of the CSU community about how we can better prepare students for the workforce.

We have created a web site, http://www.csuadvantage.org, which will serve as a virtual discussion forum for this project. I invite all of you to explore this site and share your ideas about how we can create even more opportunities for active learning at the CSU. This site will be live through Thanksgiving.

Open Enrollment
Last, just a brief reminder: The CSU's annual benefits open enrollment runs from now through October 18. Please consider your options carefully because the choices you make now will impact your coverage, access, and expenses for the 2003 calendar year.

The CSU offers two voluntary benefit plans that can help reduce your out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses. The Health Care Reimbursement Account (HCRA) and the Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DCRA) plans allow you to pay for certain out-of-pocket medical, dental, vision and day care expenses tax-free. Using the HCRA and DCRA plans could amount to a $30 to $40 savings for every $100 in expenses. For more information, see your campus benefits representative or visit www.calstate.edu/DCRA_HCRA.pdf.

If you would like to receive regular e-mail updates about these and other CSU systemwide issues, I invite you to subscribe to the CSU Leader, our weekly e-newsletter covering CSU news and events. You may find more information about this publication at www.calstate.edu/CSULeader.

Thank you for helping to make the California State University such an outstanding institution of higher education. I wish you all the best for the new academic year.

last updated September 16, 2002