Report of the Chair

​Remarks by Roberta Achtenberg
Chair of the Board
CSU Board of Trustees – Chair’s Report
May 16, 2007

I am very pleased to note the appointment of Peter Mehas by Governor Schwarzenegger to the Board of Trustees. Congratulations Pete! Would you like to comment?

This is the last meeting for student trustee Andrew LaFlamme, whose term expires on June 30. Andrew, we appreciate your viewpoints and how effectively you presented them throughout your term. In July, Jennifer Reimer will assume the position of the voting student trustee, and, Jennifer, we look forward to your active and creative participation.

On behalf of your fellow trustees, I want to thank Debra Farar, Herb Carter, Ray Holdsworth, and Glen Toney for successfully completing the search for president of CSU Dominguez Hills. Yesterday, we announced that Dr. Mildred García, president of Berkeley College of New York and New Jersey agreed to accept the position. The Board of Trustees look forward to having Dr. García join the CSU family. Let me add that we had an extraordinarily talented pool of candidates.

Three weeks ago, many of the trustees, presidents, members of the executive committee of Academic Senate and delegations from each campus participated in the Access to Excellence Summit. It was a highly successful event and is helping our university system craft a new ten-year plan. I appreciate the efforts of Executive Vice Chancellor Gary Reichard in overseeing the plans for the Summit. And my thanks go out to Dr. Keith Boyum and Ms. Trudy Hernandez of Academic Affairs for the tremendous support they provided. I commend to all the System Strategic Planning website; it provides an opportunity for anyone to contribute thoughts to the path being pursued as a result of campus conversations and the summit.

Thank you to the executive committee of the academic senate and the board of directors of the CSSA for working with us throughout the year. In July and September, I expect some of you to return your respective tables and be joined by new representatives.

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank members of the California Faculty Association bargaining team, Chancellor Reed and his staff, and our consulting team led by Richard Barnes on the completion of a four year contract. We are greatly encouraged and relieved to have this MOU in place.

Yesterday in closed session the trustees discussed the performance of several CSU presidents. In the due course of time, written summaries will be released about two of the presidents whose reviews were conducted this spring.

We also held a discussion on the performance of Alex Gonzalez, president of CSU Sacramento and Ruben Armiñana, president of Sonoma State, in light of recent efforts by the respective faculty to conduct “no confidence votes” about their leadership.

Although the vote about Dr. Gonzalez concluded a few weeks ago, the vote on Dr. Armiñana is being taken this week at Sonoma. In any event, I thought it was important to provide the trustees an opportunity to discuss these matters. In both instances, our conclusion was that Dr. Gonzalez and Dr. Armiñana are providing the leadership expected of a contemporary university president.

Last year in July, the trustees received and discussed the three-year evaluation of Dr. Gonzalez. He was given high marks for having reinvigorated the university. Looking toward a horizon of 2010, Dr. Gonzalez has been taking bold steps to craft a branding and image-building model, construct new student activities and athletics facilities, improve signage and landscaping, and secure land for much-needed faculty and staff housing. An Honors College was established to support the intellectual capital of students. Responding to junior faculty salary inequities, a summer stipend program was developed. Alumni and community supporters rallied behind Dr. Gonzalez because of the series of improvements at Sacramento State.

Dr. Gonzalez is being criticized for taking on issues such as making the campus expenditure budget realistic. That is a virtue and is what the trustees expect of the presidents. He is also being attacked over the positive outcomes of last year’s review: improving athletics facilities, adding more student housing, planning a student wellness/recreation center, and branding the campus with a new logo. His critics assert these improvements are not needed and the fiscal resources should be used for academic buildings and instruction.

Criticisms of Dr. Armiñana rest on lack of faculty approval of the Schulz university library and the Green Music Center, the assertion of misguided fund raising priorities, and the contention that class size is beyond tolerable limits. He is also criticized for not anticipating the escalating costs of construction for campus projects.

Although opposition to the Schulz Information Center was vocal when the project was initially planned, the project proceeded and it now is a main gathering point for student and a preferred meeting location for faculty and staff.

President Armiñana had a vision to construct a music performance venue that rivaled Tanglewood in Massachusetts. It would benefit the local community for entertainment, become the home of the Santa Rosa Symphony, and function as the home of the growing music and performing arts programs of Sonoma State, as well as other academic programs.

Dr. Armiñana is committed to the future of the region by creating a partnership with the local Rancho Cotate Unified School District to improve Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) learning and by creating partnerships with the Roseland University Prep School, and with Elsie Allen High School are backed up with active programs to ensure greater campus diversity.

Recognizing the demand by students for on-campus residential living-learning at Sonoma State, Dr. Armiñana led the planning for a series new student housing facilities that now provides 2,400 beds which equates to housing for one-third of the students. This is changing the character of the student body in positive ways by reinforcing the learning environment.

During Dr. Armiñana’s tenure, Sonoma State has become of full-fledged member of the prestigious Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. He has served as a director of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is a distinguished leader in higher education in the United States.

In summary, this board stands behind President Alex Gonzalez and President Ruben Armiñana. They are both effective and engaged leaders in the California State University. It is an honor and a privilege to have them as colleagues.

That concludes my report and I will ask Chancellor Reed to deliver his report.