From the Desk of the President Archive - April 2011

President Gonzalez


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This is a busy time of year for Sacramento State, and I want to provide an update on the latest campus developments.

Last night, we honored the seven graduating students who are the recipients of this year’s Dean’s Awards. Their stories were inspiring, and they have overcome tremendous obstacles to succeed and pursue their dreams at Sacramento State.

I will be presenting one of these students with the President’s Medal during our Commencement ceremonies next month. This May, we expect nearly 7,000 students to graduate from Sacramento State.

The University Budget Advisory Committee has finished meeting with campus divisional leaders. The committee members will now begin discussions, and they expect to have their recommendations to me by mid May.

UBAC and all of the campus divisions have been planning for a general fund reduction of nearly $27 million, which is based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed cut of $500 million to the California State University. When all the factors are taken into consideration, including higher tuition fees, mandatory costs and the availability of one-time funds, we are looking at a 9.7 percent reduction, or about $12.88 million.

We are hopeful that the cuts are limited to this amount. However, we all know that the specter of a $1 billion cut to the CSU remains. If that were to occur, the effects would be devastating.

The governor and Legislature are continuing to negotiate the state budget, but currently, no new sources of revenue have been approved. This is vitally important to the CSU, because if new revenues do not emerge – such as through extensions of taxes scheduled to expire – we will be facing the $1 billion cut.

On Monday, I met with representatives from the California Faculty Association, the California State University Employees Union and the Academic Professionals of California. I, along with Vice President for Human Resources David Wagner and UBAC Chairman Fred Baldini, shared information on the campus budget and answered questions asked by the union representatives.

At the meeting, Dr. Baldini referenced the five guiding principles I shared at February’s budget town hall. These principles are guiding our work to address the current proposed cuts. They are:

•    Maintain quality of instruction and improve the graduation rates of students.

•    Achieve enrollment target.

•    Avoid cuts across the board.

•    Take a strategic institutional approach to reductions with implications for the future in mind.

•    Recognize that the current budget challenges are likely to be in play for two to three more years.

I will continue to send out these updates with the latest budget information as important developments unfold, and I invite you to check my web page for other information of interest to the campus community.

Thank you for your continuing dedication on behalf of our students.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez

 


Friday, April 22, 2011

I had the pleasure of making my Sacramento State theatrical debut last night in the Department of Theatre and Dance’s performance of “The Wiz.” Prof. Melinda Wilson Ramey, the musical’s director, has given the Tony-award winning production a modern update, along with a Sacramento twist.

It was a joy and an honor to share the stage even briefly with our talented students. Each performance has included a special appearance by a member of the local or campus community.

Last night, we also announced the formation of a scholarship fund in honor of Sauree Nina Pinckard-Fechtner, who passed away in January. Nina was with the department for more than 30 years, and “The Wiz” features many of her creative costume designs. For more information on the scholarship, please contact Associate Director of Planned Giving Kevin Gonzalez at (916) 278-6290.

I encourage everyone to check out one of the final two performances this weekend, and in fact, Provost Joe Sheley is scheduled to make an appearance on stage during the Saturday show. For times and ticket information, please click here.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez

 


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yesterday afternoon, Provost Joe Sheley and I had the opportunity to present the Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award to Dr. Robert Wassmer, chair of the Department of Public Policy and Administration.

I want to thank the Faculty Senate’s Research and Creative Activity Subcommittee – along with its chair, Hakan Ozcelik – for the work they do in selecting this honoree each year. Dr. Wassmer’s research on economics as applied to the analysis of urban public policy has brought national attention to Sacramento State, and the issues he examines are especially relevant to our lives here in the Sacramento region.

His lecture yesterday on the external effects of the area’s foreclosure crisis was very informative, and whenever I drive past a bank-owned home, I will know just how much it is influencing the prices of nearby properties.

Perhaps the most inspiring part of the event was Dr. Wassmer describing how much he involves students in his research, and how those students leave his classroom better prepared to tackle some of the biggest challenges present in our society.

Congratulations, Dr. Wassmer.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez

 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I am pleased to announce that Ellen High is the Employee of the Month for April.

She is an assistant payroll manager with University Enterprises, Inc.

Ellen’s nominator has described her as “a very loyal employee, always readily available to ensure that the UEI payroll is done accurately and completed on time." The nominator added, “Ellen provides suggestions to improve the processes to ensure compliance with UEI policies as well as state and federal laws.”

Congratulations, Ellen.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez


Monday, April 18, 2011

I want to provide an update to everyone following last week’s demonstration on campus.

First of all, it bears repeating that if no additional sources of revenue are found, state support of the California State University system could be reduced by $1 billion – or twice the current proposal of cutting $500 million. If cuts are limited to $500 million, the plan is to weather that budget without additional increases in student tuition fees or drastic cuts in enrollment.

I support any lawful means of spreading the message that a $1 billion cut to the CSU would be bad for everyone involved, including the employers who hire our graduates, the faculty and staff who work on our campuses and, especially, the students we serve.

The demonstrators ended their sit-in in Sacramento Hall early Saturday morning after three nights of staying in the building, and no arrests were made. They left after campus police informed them that occupying a building that is closed is a violation of law.

I met with the student demonstrators three times, and members of my staff met with them many times, as well. The web page requested by the students involved in the sit-in is available for viewing. It includes my response to the demands presented during my April 14 meeting with them, along with a rationale provided by the students.

This is a good time to remind everyone that the University has clear policies regarding overnight camping, posting materials, expression and student conduct. Applicable policies can be found by clicking the links in this paragraph.

These policies are designed with the entire University community in mind. For instance, many of our buildings are closed overnight because from a health and safety standpoint, they are designed as workplaces, not for long-term occupation. When they are used for overnight stays, the additional costs incurred by the University tax our budget further, in addition to hindering normal operations.

As a University President, I take very seriously my responsibility to do everything I can to ensure that concerns of health, safety, cost and liability are addressed at Sacramento State.

My message to everyone has been the same since the $500 million in cuts was proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in January: Further cuts to the CSU will jeopardize the opportunities and quality that are a hallmark of our system.

Today, the California State Student Association is at the State Capitol as part of the California Higher Education Student Summit. CSSA members are meeting with state legislators to advocate for greater support of the CSU. I have also been at the State Capitol, most recently on April 5, to send this message as well.

As I said in an Op-Ed I wrote for the April 5 edition of The Sacramento Bee, “a short-term ‘slash and burn’ strategy for balancing the budget would destroy the healthy foundation our state needs to return to prosperity.” I urge everyone who cares about public higher education in California to join together in working to prevent deeper cuts.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez

 


Thursday, April 14, 2011

I have returned from meeting with the Chancellor and my fellow campus presidents in Long Beach and want to update everyone on yesterday’s demonstration and sit-in in Sacramento Hall.

The reports I’ve received indicate that everyone was peaceful, and no problems were caused. I appreciate the students and faculty organizers who worked to assure peaceful proceedings throughout the day.

Yesterday, Provost Joseph Sheley and Vice President for Administration and Business Affairs Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee spoke with students and answered their questions.

I also met with students this morning at their request to listen to their concerns and answer any questions I could. They presented me with a list of demands, and we will post those online in cooperation with the student organizers.  

As for my meeting in Long Beach, part of the discussion focused on the realities of an all-cuts budget. Without additional revenue from the state, the California State University could face a reduction of $1 billion.

This would be devastating for a state that once had a public higher education system that was the envy of the world. I pledge to continue working to avoid this scenario, and I ask that we all work together to send this message to our elected leaders and the people of California.

As it stands now, we continue to prepare for a $500 million reduction – and the plan is to accomplish that without additional increases in tuition fees or drastic cuts in enrollment. A cut of $1 billion would call into question the very survival of the CSU and seriously jeopardize the access and quality we have been able to maintain for our students.

I will continue to send regular budget updates to the campus, and I thank everyone for their work on behalf of our students.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez

 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend the California Next Gen Film Festival and view 14 films made by Sacramento State students. The festival, at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium, was created around the idea of showcasing young filmmakers in first-rate facilities that present the works as they were meant to be seen.

 

The films covered many genres, and the subject matter was powerful and highly relevant to the world we share. The film program is relatively new on campus, and Saturday’s festival demonstrated that we have some very talented artists here at Sacramento State.

 

Last week, I also helped to recognize 25 of our students at the Anthony J. & Soula Leones Scholarship reception. The Leones Scholarship, which was established 20 years ago, includes a $1,000 scholarship for the academic year, and student recipients are required to complete 40 hours of community service. The scholarship is designed to provide an incentive for students to pursue areas of study that can help their communities. The internship sites where the students perform their service include local schools, charitable organizations and initiatives on campus, such as the College Assistance Migrant Program.

It was a delight to hear how the scholarships are inspiring our students and benefiting worthwhile causes in our community. I thank the family of Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos, who established this program 20 years ago. My congratulations also go out to the students we honored, as well as the faculty and staff members who make this program such a success.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez

 

Friday, April 8, 2011

This semester’s University Convocation was a resounding success for the campus community, and as promised, we are following up on the day’s discussions. I convened the Convocation on Feb. 21 in cooperation with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

On Monday, the Convocation Committee presented a report to members of my cabinet and me. It included recommendations for how we can build upon the day’s activities.

The committee members include Dean Vanessa Sheared of the College of Education, Don Taylor from Academic Affairs and professors Kimo Ah Yun, Margarita Berta-Avila, Tim Fong, Janet Hecsh, Greg Mark and Steve Perez, and they did a tremendous job planning the event and facilitating the honest, constructive discussions that took place during the Convocation. Additionally, as part of its mission to support the campus and its students, University Enterprises, Inc., covered the costs of the Feb. 21 event so no state funds or tuition fees were used.

I found one quote during Monday’s report especially insightful. The committee said: “It is ironic that the effort to find ways to build community served to build community. The Sacramento State family grew closer ... and the anticipation of wanting more still remains.”

This, along with the discussions I heard during the Convocation’s breakout sessions, tells me that we are on the right track for delivering on the day’s theme, “Fostering Community at Sacramento State.”

The committee’s five main recommendations included:

•    Hold future events, such as convocation, campus-wide lectureships, and annual days of service, centered on a single theme.

•    Promote “conduct protocols” on campus.

•    Engage the University at the curriculum level.

•    Engage University faculty and staff.

•    Continue campus dialogue.

More details of the committee’s report are available here.

I appreciate everyone’s commitment to our goal of building a greater community at Sacramento State, and I will keep everyone posted on the conclusions and actions that result.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez

 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Tuesday, I joined California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed, UC President Mark Yudof, California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott and about 250 campus officials at the State Capitol to rally against proposed cuts to public higher education in California.

All told, we are currently facing $1.4 billion in proposed cuts in state funding. The CSU’s share of Gov. Jerry Brown’s current proposal is $500 million in cuts, and as a system and a campus, we are planning to manage those cuts without more tuition increases or large-scale enrollment cuts.

I met with representatives from five of our area’s legislative districts and shared the message that further cuts could have a devastating effect on the quality and access that have been a hallmark of public higher education in California.

More information on Higher Education Advocacy Day is available here, and a video of the event is posted on Public Affairs' Budget Central page.

Additionally, below is the text of a piece I wrote that was published in The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday.

Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez

 


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Here is a piece I wrote that appeared in yesterday's issue of The Sacramento Bee.

Viewpoints: Public higher education provides economic engine

Special to The Bee 

Representatives from California's three main public higher education systems are going to the Capitol today to preserve the economic prosperity that our communities have been waiting to see for a number of years.

This year's Higher Education Advocacy Day comes at a pivotal moment. According to a recent report, California added nearly 100,000 new jobs in February. At the same time, however, the realities of the state's budget deficit are threatening cuts beyond the $1.4 billion proposed in January for the California State University, the University of California and the California Community Colleges.

These figures bring me to a question I am often asked: Why should public resources be invested in higher education?

My answer is the same wherever I go, whether it is in the checkout line at my local supermarket or in a legislator's office at the Capitol: In the course of your average day in Sacramento, consider how many Sacramento State graduates you encounter on your errands, in your meetings or during your appointments. Now think about the consequences of them not being there.

Sacramento State graduates are found in the areas of the community that touch us the most.

This includes the police officers and sheriff's deputies who keep our neighborhoods safe, and even the police chief, county sheriff and district attorney themselves. Sacramento State grads were named California Teacher of the Year and Sacramento City Unified School District Teacher of the Year. And nursing students are performing community service in local schools and clinics before they graduate to better prepare them for careers in the region's hospitals and doctors' offices.

These examples barely scratch the surface, but for me, they are the most compelling and important answer to the question posed. That's why throughout April, our campus is celebrating Alumni Month and recognizing the amazing contributions of our graduates on the region we share.

Some key numbers also illustrate this point. Almost 80 percent of the 26,288 students enrolled last fall at Sacramento State came from Sacramento County or one of its bordering counties.

Our campus's overall impact on the state economy is $1 billion, which sustains nearly 9,000 jobs across California.

If you add the 122,000 students served by UC Davis and the Los Rios Community College District – along with the enormous impact they and their campuses create – public higher education's value as an economic engine in the Sacramento region becomes readily apparent.

Another factor when considering the value of public higher education is the human capital our institutions produce.

The vast majority of Sacramento State's 205,000 alumni have stayed in the region – largely because they have a deep connection to where they grew up. About $2.9 billion of those alumni's earnings are attributable to their college degrees.

These graduates have taken advantage of classes that were informed by leaders in the economic sectors that now employ them. Many of our academic programs and colleges have advisory panels that help give our curricula a solid footing in the real world, which in turn gives students a leg up when they walk into that first job interview.

Sacramento State also has created courses of study in the most promising sectors, including the California Smart Grid Center's aim to educate the next generation of clean energy workers and a new degree in environmental studies.

As public institutions, we acknowledge that we must be part of the solution for closing the state budget deficit, and we have taken many actions to sustain our enrollments as much as possible during the recent years of cuts.

At Sacramento State, these measures include reducing travel, going "paperless" in many offices, moving to virtual servers for our computers, shifting summer school off of state support and adjusting work and building hours to reduce energy costs.

We are also examining every aspect of our academic programs, such as whether our general education course requirements can be handled more efficiently.

The CSU system's share of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget cuts is $500 million, and we have been planning for that reduction without additional increases in student tuition or large-scale cuts in enrollment. Further reductions in support to the CSU system, however, would necessitate large, painful structural changes and jeopardize the access to quality higher education that for decades has been a hallmark of our system.

I hope that it doesn't come to that. At this point, a short-term "slash and burn" strategy for balancing the budget would destroy the healthy foundation our state needs to return to prosperity.

We know that when the economy does bounce back, there will be a demand for educated graduates in all segments of the workforce, and everyone in California will be better served by those jobs staying right here in our state, rather than having employers look to other states or nations.


Posted by: Alexander Gonzalez