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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento

September 08, 2003

Town Hall meetings prompt discussions

Town Hall meeting video

Institutional identity, fund raising, budget cuts, community involvement and the potential for a University village with housing, shopping and restaurants. These were all on the minds of faculty, administrators, staff and students who attended the first two scheduled Town Hall meetings President Alexander Gonzalez held last week.

The last scheduled Town Hall meeting will be at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 10 in the Union Hinde Auditorium.

The President says the meetings, which he first announced during his Aug. 28 address to the campus community, are to help him open the lines of communication and gather information in order to plan for the University’s future. “This is a campus that has a lot of potential,” he said.

More than one audience member expressed confusion about the name for the campus. Gonzalez acknowledged, “The name of the campus has come up many times – Sac State vs. CSUS vs. the Capital University. We need to decide what we are going to call ourselves.

“I think branding is a big issue here. I’ve heard it over and over as a way to unify of all these different voices into one and make a common presentation to the community. I hope to get us moving in that direction.”

Gonzalez also asked the crowd about their views on community involvement and in development efforts around the perimeter of the campus. Though the University is not directly involved in the development already underway in Elvas Ave.-65th Street area, he has met with councilmembers to begin a dialogue about future plans. Audience members stressed that affordable housing could help draw new faculty and that a good mix of businesses could attract both students and staff. It was also suggested that development in the adjacent area would help the campus make better use of evening hours.

There were concerns about how to pay for new development, particularly new residence halls on campus, which studies have shown would be enormously popular with students. It was also pointed out that with the increase in housing, there would be a corresponding need to increase student life such as recreation and events. Seeking alternative funding such as public-private partnerships was brought up as a possible solution.

Gonzalez predicted that CSUS could become a student destination. “We already have a good core of education. Adding those amenities – residence halls, campus life – will change the environment on campus and will draw students from around the state. More students will want to come here.” He envisions a campus resident population of as many as 5,000.

The campus’ budget crunch came up in discussions of student access and other services. Gonzalez noted that while the campus took cuts this time around, next year will likely be even worse when the University may be forced to turn away qualified students. The resulting flat enrollment will make the fiscal situation even worse, because increases are what trigger funding. But he also expressed optimism that the financial picture will brighten within a couple of years.

In the area of fundraising, there was talk of the need to educate donors about what kinds of funding are needed. Gonzalez said there are various ways to fund projects beyond state-supported or state-assisted, such as those that provide naming opportunities. “It would be great if we had all kinds of names other than Eureka or Lassen – if we had Smith, or Kellogg or Hewlett Packard.

“Naming allows a level of excellence. Once you get named buildings it attracts other donors. One begets the other.”

The audience spoke of the need to educate the community about the University. Gonzalez agreed, saying everyone on campus should promote campus successes “shamelessly, not modestly.”

“It’s everyone’s responsibility. All the ingredients, the components to be a flagship campus are here,” he said. “But it’s a reputation that’s earned.”

Gonzalez also identified topics he received as e-mail messages at townhall@csus.edu. Among the topics that were raised were athletics, distance education and the use of electronic communication to share information with the campus.

On the topic of athletics, President Gonzalez reiterated his plan to put together a committee to do a review of the program’s organizational structure and level of competitiveness. He plans to announce the committee members this week.

To address the need for more instantaneous communication with the campus, Gonzalez says he intends to make frequent use of e-mail, rather than paper to share feedback.

Gonzalez said that he will report what he learns back to the campus community. After the first three Town Hall meetings he will add more if needed. For more information contact the president’s office at 278-7737. To send comments use townhall@csus.edu.

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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu
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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu