Parents and students met alongside new and returning faculty, staff and administrators to witness President Mildred Garcia’s fifth consecutive CSUF Convocation address on Monday, Aug. 15.
Garcia and the Cal State Fullerton community met in Meng Concert Hall of the Clayes Performing Art Center to review the university’s diverse accomplishments of the previous year as well as to note the progress of its implemented Strategic Plan.
According to Garcia, the 2015-16 academic year met the first goal of CSUF’s Strategic Plan: Developing and maintaining a curricular and co-curricular environment that prepares students for participation in a global society and is responsive to workforce needs through the flourishing Student Success Teams (SST).
SSTs are “innovative corroborations of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs … providing data driven student advising that leverages the knowledge of our faculty and staff,” Garcia said.
These success teams were presented in front of the OASIS (Optimizing Academic Success and Institutional Strategy) summit and impacted other national institutions so much that some chose to use CSUF’s work as a leading example for their school.
The second goal of improving student persistence, increasing graduation rates university-wide and narrowing the achievement gap for underrepresented students is anchored by the institution’s high-impact practices (HIPS), where Fullerton is the leading CSU in the statewide system. These practices can be seen in the increased participation of diverse students enrolling in intersession study abroad or study away programs, the development of a women’s leadership program in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, and the gravitational wave breakthrough made by staff members of CSUF, Caltech and MIT.
Goal three of the Strategic Plan is to recruit and retain a high-quality and diverse faculty and staff. This year, the 59 new tenure-track faculty members represent the most diverse group yet according to Garcia, where half are women, 33 percent are Asian, 10 percent are Latino, nine percent are African-American and 40 percent are Caucasian.
The 2015-16 fiscal year also met the Strategic Plan’s fourth goal to increase revenue through fundraising, entrepreneurial activities, grants and contracts by raising over $22 million in gift commitments compared to 2014-15’s $17 million and 2013-14 $16.1 million.
Alongside these goal-based achievements, the institution featured other accomplishments such as the addition of 70 new tenure staff, the implementation of 11 acres of drought-tolerant land, CSUF named as one of the top workplaces for commuters, CSUF softball team named Big West Champions and the launch of student-run Spanish language broadcast program “Al Día”.
Yulia Popova, Labor/Employee Relations and Compliance Administrator, said that it’s nice to be recognized with accomplishments her department directly played a role in.
“It gives you an additional boost of energy and the motivation to move forward,” Popova said.
Liz Sanchez, a member of Students for Quality Education, seeks to bring awareness of student allocation of fees and attended the Convocation to see President Garcia’s presentation of the Strategic Plan.
“It felt like it was fluff, like she was trying to present a cute little present nice and bow-tied to make people comfortable,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez, a victim of student homelessness in the Spring 2016 semester, said that CSUF’s support system was a $500 loan that was too far out of reach for someone who is need of money. The plan offered her food but was essentially useless for her because she didn’t have a home to store it in. “We can do better for our students.”
The 2016-17 academic year is looking to move forward with President Garcia’s Strategic Plan, which is set for completion in 2018.