March 9, 2005

Feedback emphasized at Town Hall

Town Hall Meeting Video - March 2, 2005

“We want your input,” was the repeated message of Wednesday’s Town Hall meeting. The crowd of faculty, staff, students who filled the Hinde Audiorium heard President Alexander Gonzalez, Vice President for Student Affairs Lori Varlotta and Vice President for Administration and Business Affairs Steve Garcia say that as they work on plans for Destination 2010, they are seeking comments from the campus on everything from the capital outlay process to campus signage to what to include in the Recreation, Wellness and Events Center.

And the campus seemed eager to share. One staff member said that future buildings and remodels should seek the counsel of the people who will use them. “I would encourage you to involve the staff all the way through the process,” she said. A couple of faculty members suggested that future classroom buildings should include more windows “instead of isolating students.” And a student shared his experiences as a student representative on committee to design a safety plan for a building at CSU Los Angeles.

Garcia agreed. “Those who will use the building need to be involved. If the idea is to build a more welcoming campus, that is the kind of involvement we want in building new buildings.” Garcia also mentioned that the entire staff in Business Administration has been involved in developing the unit’s plans for implementing 2010.

Varlotta also noted that they seeking input for the planned new student housing but the challenge is to broaden the opportunities for student involvement. “We have a cadre of student who are involved with ‘everything.’ We need to do more to tap the students who are uninvolved.”

Gonzalez noted a need for the student voice. “All campus committees have spots for students. We need students on those committees—I haven’t met a student yet who doesn’t have an opinion.” Gonzalez also suggested information could be shared through some type of electronic bulletin board.

Gonzalez began the discussion with an update on the progress on Destination 2010 saying the physical part of 2010 has been approved and is moving forward but that it’s time to look more deeply. “What does 2010 really mean to the campus as a plan of action for the future? 2010 is a number. It’s a convenient number,” Gonzalez said. “What do we need to do to be a better campus than we are now?” He also repeated his vision of the campus as the flagship of the CSU system. “We’re in the capital. We are California’s capital campus. It’s us.”

In answer to a comment from a student about the need to get the University’s name out in the community, Gonzalez cited it as the reason for branding portion of Destination 2010. “We need to tell our story. We have great people, great educational opportunities, a great campus. We don’t do a good job of tooting our own horn.”

Varlotta said Student Affairs’ plans for “2010” are to focus on how to talk about diversity, recruitment, assessment and collaboration with Academic Affairs as well as other units. She said they want to continue to promote student success by looking at the transitions students go through early in their academic career, through their time on campus and after graduation. They also want to look at augmenting student learning with programs like internships and cooperative education.

A faculty member suggested that Academic Affairs and Student Affairs need to be more integrated. Varlotta agreed, but suggested that though she doesn’t envision completely eliminating the “siloed” Academic Affairs and Student Affairs by 2010, “We’re already working together on how to blur the boundaries by focusing on areas where we have shared responsibilities.”

Garcia says that for the Business Administration unit, “Our sole purpose is to provide support to the campus.” He wants a more open budget process, a more simplified capital outlay with input from college deans and faculty on buildings. “We want facilities and landscaping that blend in rather than individual buildings. We want an architectural flavor that extends from one building to another.” He also wants to make the campus safer and will be asking for input on lighting needs.

Gonzalez, Garcia and Vice President for Capital Planning and Resource Development and Executive Director for University Enterprises Matt Altier also discussed upcoming new buildings and transportation options. Transportation improvements include the new Parking Structure III that will break ground in the fall, a proposed trolley line from the 65th Street light rail station with a loop around campus, and a new campus signage program.

In answer to a question about the potential for campus development along the American River levee near Alumni Grove, Gonzalez explained that though the land is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, representatives from the campus have been meeting to talk about a variety of projects including a possible restaurant on the east side of the levee at the base of the Guy West Bridge. “We don’t use the river as much as we should. It’s an asset we don’t take advantage of enough.”

To a question about the possibility of a research library for graduate students, Gonzalez shared progress on legislation to allow the campus to offer applied doctorates and suggested that if it is successful it will necessitate a boost in library resources.

Other topics included possibilities for augmented student learning, difficulties bringing off-campus groups to campus, increasing the ethics component in student leadership training, a suggestion to increase the amount of student fees allocated to the State Hornet, a request for a student study and relaxation area on the north end of campus, and a call for an expanded tour program for prospective students.

President Gonzalez ended the session by encouraging people to e-mail him with their suggestions and concerns at
alexg@csus.edu.

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