Remarks by Dr. Jolene Koester - May 24, 2022

Meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees, May 24, 2022
Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester
Chancellor's Report (as prepared)

Thank you, Chair Kimbell. And thank you for your consistently mission-driven leadership through what has undoubtedly been the most challenging time in the CSU's 62-year history. The entire Cal State family owes you a debt of gratitude and our deep appreciation for your extraordinary and dedicated work as board chair.

Before I begin my remarks, it is my duty under the Education Code to report approved changes in admission practices before those changes can be enacted.

All campuses have complied with the provisions of the Education Code that require a series of public hearings and public disclosure in advance of submitting their final program impaction requests. All campuses have been approved to implement these changes in admission practices for the 2023-24 academic year.

This year, we have good news in our continued efforts to expand access to the CSU. Through the annual impaction review process, five campuses have discontinued impaction for levels and academic programs for the 2023-24 academic year. The following academic programs will no longer be impacted beginning with the fall 2023 term:

Chico State: Impaction discontinued for freshmen, transfers and the social work program;

Cal State East Bay: Impaction discontinued for freshmen and transfers;

CSU Monterey Bay: Impaction discontinued for freshmen and transfers and for biology; business administration; computer science; environmental science, technology and policy; kinesiology; marine science, mathematics, psychology; and undeclared;

San Francisco State: Impaction discontinued for kinesiology – exercise science and movement science;

Sonoma State: Impaction discontinued for early childhood studies and kinesiology.

The following campuses provided justification and received permission to update supplementary admission criteria for colleges and academic programs beginning with the fall 2023 term:

CSU Bakersfield: Nursing;

CSU Channel Islands: Nursing;

Cal State Long Beach: The College of Health and Human Services: kinesiology (all options), social work and health science (options: community health education and school health education); College of Natural Science and Mathematics: biology (all majors), marine biology and microbiology; College of Engineering: computer engineering and computer science; College of Art: music (both bachelor of arts and bachelor of music programs), dance science, art (printmaking), film and electronic arts (options: narrative production, theory/practice of cinema);

Cal Maritime: Engineering technology programs (facilities engineering technology and marine engineering technology), marine transportation, mechanical engineering (U.S. Coast Guard License option, energy design option and mechanic design option);

Cal Poly Pomona: Utilization of multifactor admission scoring for transfer students that includes the use of recommended coursework for out-of-area applicants; and

San José State: animation and illustration.

Now to my report:

This morning, I spoke about my background, my values, and my vision for the CSU, for what we can and will accomplish – together – over the next 12 to 15 months.

Of course, a vision without a plan is really just a hope. So now, I'd like to get a bit more concrete by outlining my four overarching goals and some of the associated steps for making that vision a reality – a road map carefully developed only after in-depth, one-on-one conversations with each of our trustees and all 23 Cal State presidents. And at the onset, I want to thank each of these extraordinary leaders for sharing their insights and perspectives, which informed these goals.

As your interim chancellor, I am deeply committed to the goal of restoring trust with and among this board and our campus presidents, as well as faculty, students, and staff.

That means communicating – and listening – openly and frequently with the representatives of the systems constituencies. It also means being intentional about creating opportunities for trustees, presidents, and system leadership to gather together to focus on the assessment of structures, functions, and staffing.

And it includes presenting meaningful recommendations to the board and campus leaders related to our Title IX systemwide assessment and necessary changes to problematic employment practices.  We already have two substantive reviews underway related to Title IX where the focus is on both the mechanisms of enforcement as well as the culture and behaviors of the people who are affected.

A key characteristic of my leadership approach is an expectation of collaboration; thus, my second goal is to collaborate as we evaluate, implement and make appropriate improvements to key processes, policies, and organizational structures within divisions of the Chancellor's Office – all with an eye toward building a culture of inclusiveness and open communication, as well with a service orientation.

Our human resources and legal teams will assess current practices and policies and explore opportunities to do our work better. 

With the search for a new Vice Chancellor of University Relations and Advancement delayed, we have a wonderful opportunity to take a step back and see what we have and what we need within that important division. To assess, and restructure as necessary, thus providing staff with the best-in-class tools and practices they need to perform these absolutely vital functions at the highest level.

Academic and Student Affairs – whose work is so core to our academic mission – will receive my close attention, assistance, and encouragement as that division continues to support and facilitate the life-transforming work that happens every day throughout our system.

My third goal is directed toward laying the groundwork for the next regularly appointed chancellor by setting in motion key actions to respond to the CSU's most critical operational and strategic challenges.

Specifically, we must work to foster a partnership model for the Chancellor's Office to collaborate with our universities to develop clear, equitable and actionable strategic enrollment management plans on each of our campuses and to create a well-defined and communicated set of funding practices related to enrollment that safeguards the fiscal health of all without removing accountability at the campus level. These are issues of concern to every one of our 23 presidents – and they are issues we must address together.

Additionally, we will ethically, equitably and synergistically manage the systemwide Title IX assessment being conducted by the Institutional Response Group at Cozen O'Connor – ensuring that the results of the assessment tighten and advance the CSU's Title IX prevention, training, awareness, intervention, accountability and support systems.

During the next 12-15 months, we will launch a comprehensive study of our operational practices related to the recruitment and retention of the CSU's workforce and we will deliver actionable recommendations to modernize policy and practices.

And we will continue to assess and implement system-level approaches and support to our campuses to achieve our Graduation Initiative 2025 student-success goals, with a particular emphasis on closing equity gaps.

Finally, my fourth overarching goal as interim chancellor is to advocate for the resources necessary to advance our academic mission and to recruit, retain, and fairly compensate a world-class team of faculty and staff.  Those efforts are underway right now, in full force, and will continue to be amplified until a state budget agreement is reached. We will hear updates on the budget and our advocacy strategies later on in this meeting.

It's clear that our advocacy teams in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., have a mission-critical role and they need and deserve to be supported with sufficient staffing and leadership, as well as the most modern tools and best practices available, as we work to provide the next chancellor with the state and federal advocacy platforms the nation's largest, most diverse and most consequential university requires.

Before I end my report this afternoon, I want to emphasize that – while I have described a road map of assessment and for improvement, growth and change – I recognize the extraordinary work that is happening right now at all 23 universities and in the Chancellor's Office. In March, Executive Vice Chancellor Relyea – who provided such capable and steady leadership as acting chancellor and who has been such a wonderful and helpful resource to me as I transition into my new role. Thank you, Steve – [he] sat in this chair and spoke of the CSU's undeniable positive momentum: graduation numbers and rates at all-time highs, record-setting fundraising, innovations in holistic student supports. The list goes on and on and is even more impressive considering these accomplishments were achieved despite the challenges of a global pandemic.

Please know that I recognize this extraordinary work. I applaud you for it – leadership, faculty, staff and students. And I will do everything in my power to support you so that we can maintain and accelerate this positive momentum.

But what an opportunity we have – as we emerge from the pandemic – to re-think and re-imagine who we are and what we do, incorporating many of the lessons and practices we learned over the past two years to be an even more vital, effective and compassionate university system moving forward.

And what an obligation we have, after the events and revelations of the past three months – to listen and learn, to be accountable and to do better.

We will. We must.

And finally, it is important to emphasize that while there is an “I" in this message, it is the “we" that will rebuild trust, make improvements in how we do our work, lay the strategic groundwork for the future, and advocate for the resources and reputation that we deserve.  It is the “we"—all of us that are key to the continued consequential work of the California State University system.

Chair Kimbell, that concludes my report.