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Spring 2002 l Capital University Journal
Graphic: Professor holding a large test tube with fish in itGraphic: Tower BridgeSac State professors aren’t spectators, watching the world from a proverbial ivory tower. It’s just the opposite, in fact. Professors from disciplines across campus are using their expertise to improve the quality of life in the region and the state, work that takes them off campus and into the business world and the halls of government. They’re helping California leaders devise …

Game plans for a golden state

Graphic: Professor thinking

Smart moves in political chess

A winning hand in business

Smart moves in political chess

by Frank Whitlatch

In many ways, it’s the toughest class in town.
The students want quick answers and they run the discussion. Still, testifying on policy issues at the State Legislature has a certain appeal …

“I used to set up these hearings when I worked at the Legislature, but I admit it was still disconcerting,” says Ted Lascher, chair of the Sac State public policy and administration program. Lascher testified during a recent session offering his view that the insurance commissioner position shouldn’t be an elected one.

“I showed up, the State Senator essentially said ‘Oh, you’re the professor. Let’s go.’ I spoke about three minutes,” Lascher recalls. “For an academic, not having extended interaction can be frustrating. But lawmakers have so many issues to deal with that they have to move quickly. On the positive side, they’ve become very good at grasping issues quickly and moving through items on which there is agreement.”

Lascher and other Sac State professors who testify at state legislative hearings say the task is worth it; they get to influence state policy as it works through the political grinder.

And such testimony is just one of many ways Sac State faculty help
policymakers. Their ideas and projects influence regional policy, and, because Sacramento is California’s capital city, they often impact the whole state.

“What we have here is a tremendous collection of experts in regional and state development issues, from economics to education,” says Joseph Sheley, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies. “We’re fortunate among the CSU campuses to be located in the capital city of a state that is as big and as diverse as a country.”

Sheley himself is a nationally recognized criminologist who specializes in gun policy. He was recently appointed to the California Attorney General’s Policy Discussion Group.

And he has plenty of “crime policy” company on campus.

Sac State’s Institute for Social Research, for instance, has been carrying out a long-term study of drug use among Sacramento area arrestees. The institute helped the Sacramento Bee with an analysis on methamphetamine use in the
Central Valley.

The Center for Delinquency and Crime Policy Studies is involved in an $80 million state project assessing strategies for dealing with high-risk delinquent youth. The center also is examining ways to ease juvenile offenders back into the community.

In the criminal justice department, one of the largest in North America, Ricky Gutierrez is evaluating how a massive federal effort to increase neighborhood police foot patrols, school-based officers and the like played out on the local level. Other professors in the department have studied sexual predator laws, strategies for dealing with youth gangs, how ethnicity relates to arrests and more.

Caltrans frequently has called on Sac State engineering professors for policy help. The most extensive assistance has come from Sac State’s stormwater research group, which has been helping Caltrans battle water-borne road pollutants since the mid-1990s.

When a coalition of groups wanted to establish a “living wage” in Sacramento, it sought information from Bob Mogull, a Sac State professor of business statistics who has developed a method for projecting poverty at the local level.

Sac State has become a leading promoter of such involvement for universities in state capital cities.

In 1993, the University hosted the first of what has become an annual conference on the topic, called LINKS. It attracted representatives from 31 states, 71 universities, and 87 centers, institutes and programs.

It’s a role strongly supported by Louis Caldera, who has been both a state legislator and a top administrator in the CSU system, where he is the vice chancellor for university advancement.

“Legislators need informed, timely advice from reliable sources,” Caldera says. “They’re happy to take good ideas for policy, and universities are all about ideas.”

Photo: Nancy Shulock, public policy professorNancy Shulock, a Sac State public policy professor and former academic administrator was tapped last September when the University launched its Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy. The institute studies California public higher education issues such as access, transfer and accountability, and is developing new graduate curriculum in higher education. This summer it will launch two leadership development programs for community college administrators.

“CSUS faculty have a terrific opportunity to influence public policy at the state and local levels because of our access to legislative and executive agencies which share common policy interests, and our commitment to engagement with the Capital Region,” says Shulock.

Sac State professors also are deeply involved in elementary and secondary school policy. They’ve provided advice on, among other things, arts in the schools, statewide math standards, teacher home visits, and underperforming schools.

The Institute for Education Reform at Sac State coordinates an array of such research. It was created to advise the State Legislature and local school districts. The institute also houses the Charter School Development Center, which helps groups across the state and nation develop performance-based charter schools.

Photo: Robert Wassmer, public policy professorThe future shape of California communities has grabbed the attention of public policy professors Bob Waste and Robert Wassmer, who have been examining urban sprawl.

“Basically, we’ve got this mall war going on in California,” Waste explains. “Cities all over the state are fighting for the next big mall, and it leads to bad land-use decisions. If someone figures out how to solve it, they’ll get the city and county equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Waste was recently called on when a local Assembly member wanted to promote regionalism and attempt to curb sprawl in the Capital Region. He also was part of a city group that studied local campaign finance reform.

Wassmer, meanwhile, tackled the sprawl issue as a visiting consultant to the State Senate Office of Research.

He found Fresno, Los Angeles, Riverside, Merced, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and Stockton saw the state’s highest increases in sprawl in the 1990s. His report cautioned that sprawl causes ever-longer commutes, worsening air pollution, loss of open space and agricultural land, and declining vitality in central cities.

Since that report came out in 2001, Wassmer has become a bit of a fixture at the Senate Office of Research. His latest work there has been on high-performing schools in low-income areas.

Another major source of state policy advice is the Center for California
Studies at Sac State.

Among its programs is the Faculty Research Fellows program, through which faculty from throughout the CSU system provide practical, timely policy studies. Recent work includes a study of California’s landholdings, a look at low-incoming housing, an examination of foster care and a report on California’s aging workforce.

The center and Sac State’s Institute for Social Research maintain a database of local election results in California, making such data easily accessible to researchers.

The center also runs the Capital Fellows program, in which more than 60 graduate students each year work full-time as legislative staffers as part of their academic program.

“In addition to our other programs, you can easily make the case that the entire Capital Fellows program has an impact on state government policies,” says Tim Hodson, who directs the center.

The fellows program also has been an asset to two Sac State professors who were once its academic advisors. Ken DeBow and John Syer say perspectives from their students helped keep them current as they updated their book Power and Politics in California, which soon will be published in its seventh edition.

Two organizations affiliated with the Center for California Studies have provided focused assistance to policymakers.

The relatively new California Institute for County Government studies county issues and offers consulting to county government.

The California Center for Public Dispute Resolution helps parties seeking solutions for public disputes at the local, regional and state levels.

In 2000, the center finished six years of negotiations on an agreement among Capital Region groups to provide a reliable water supply through 2030 while protecting the Lower American River.

A winning hand in business

by Laurie Hall

Photo: Robert Fountain, regional economics expert
As a featured player in the Capital Region’s economy, Sac State is not content to roll the dice where the future is concerned. University experts are joining forces with regional business leaders to help shape the area’s business climate.

Sac State is a large part of the region’s economic success story, says Robert Fountain, an emeritus business professor and special assistant to Sac State President Donald R. Gerth for regional development. Fountain is also director of the Sacramento Regional Research Institute, a joint venture between the University and the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization which uses the research capabilities of the University to support regional economic development.

One way the University impacts the regional economy is readily apparent. As one of the major employers in the Sacramento Region, a student population of more than 27,000 and 3,000 faculty and staff, the University pumps $1.1 billion into the region each year, supporting nearly 18,000 local jobs.

The University is also a key contributor of skilled workers to the region. “Sac State provides a major part of the labor infrastructure for the region. That’s why people consider bringing their business here,” Fountain says, pointing to the Sacramento Regional Economic Profile.

“A good relationship with the local university is a requirement for any region to have a successful, vibrant economy,” adds Matthew R. Mahood, president and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber.

Outreach efforts have placed thousands of students in internships with area businesses. Sac State has also “borrowed” employees to enlist as professors, such as the information systems professionals from Intel and Pacific Bell who responded to a College of Business Administration request last year for part-time faculty. One hundred students were able to enroll in classes that wouldn’t have been offered otherwise.

The College’s dean, Felicenne Ramey, notes they have instructors from all segments of the business community—insurance, technology, telecommunications. “Our part-timers are very important because they bring in practical knowledge,” she adds.

Scores of students also get hands-on experience promoting business development in the region. In the last 30 years, students working in the Center for Small Business have assisted nearly 2,400 area

The free service offers technical assistance in areas such as marketing and business plans as well as accounting, computer systems and human relations—everything but taxation, law and loan packaging. Each business’ needs become cases for study in courses led by College of Business Administration faculty.

Photo: Dennis Tootelian (r), Center for Small Business director, marketing professorDemand for the service keeps increasing, says center director and marketing professor Dennis Tootelian. “In 1969, the Center worked with seven clients. Now it’s up to more than 130 a year with a waiting list of about 90.”

The types of companies seeking help vary from dentists to restaurants to dog groomers. More than half of the businesses are women-owned and 15 to 20 percent are minority-owned.

One such customer is Gadabout Tours owner Mary James. She came to the center requesting help in marketing her one-person travel company. “I’m a good detail person and I know travel. But as far as reaching out, I didn’t have a real fix on it,” she says.

After talking with James about her goals and the barriers to getting more business, a trio of students came up with a plan to get her name out. They gave her information on advertising costs, ideas for a direct mail campaign and tips for improving her newsletter. They even suggested she modify the name of her business—to Gadabout Travel to more accurately depict her services—and created a mock-up of a new logo.

“I thought it was outstanding,” James says.

Another believer is Union Bank vice president Dana Smith, who was the student coordinator for the center while earning his MBA. Now his bank refers its clients to the center for its one-on-one advice.

“The biggest benefit is that the people who own the businesses are so busy and consulting work is so expensive, they wouldn’t be able to have someone target a specific area of their business, research it for them, and outline steps that would help them succeed,” says Smith.

Smith adds that the real world experience he got from his involvement with the center as a student gave him a leg up in his career. “You learn up front how to work with people and how far you need to go to get answers. And now when I look at people’s resumes, I want to see what they did in college to learn more than the average student,” he says.

Photo: Jong Kim,  accountancy professor and Small Business Seminar founderAddressing the needs of the area’s Korean American business owners is the mission of accountancy professor Jong Kim. “Although there are many small business programs, usually those programs fail to attract Korean American owners,” Kim says. It’s not because those programs don’t provide useful information, he says, but because there are language and cultural barriers.

Several times a year, Kim puts on seminars—presented in Korean and usually featuring prominent Korean American business people—that attract participants from the Sacramento Region and beyond. Topics included bookkeeping, marketing, online banking and budgeting techniques.

Support for business is only the tip of the iceberg for what the University offers the region.

“The role of a metropolitan university is to go out, get involved and bring expertise to the community,” the Regional Research Institute’s Fountain says. “The region is just beginning to understand we have resources they can use. We’re offering a new view of what Sac State is and does.

“Our goal is for Sac State to provide leadership to the region like Berkeley does in the Bay Area and UCLA does in Southern California. Leadership is where Sac State could have the most impact,” he says. “Faculty provide expertise to local corporations and local governments through research, consulting and community service activities, which increases the region’s competitiveness and productivity.”

“Every great region is surrounded by at least one university campus,” says the Chamber’s Mahood. “Sac State provides skilled labor, it provides research and it serves as an incubator for new technology. It provides leadership to and for the region.”

Toward this end, the University implemented a Regional Development Initiative and created the Regional Research Institute.

For example, the Institute is conducting a workforce improvement study through a multi-county look at the structure of the region’s economy in 10 and 20 years. “If you were to ask employers what the outlook would be, you wouldn’t get much of a long-term view because they don’t have the luxury of looking that far in advance,” Fountain says. “The structure of the University encourages people to think beyond the current. Regional visioning is something the University can do well.”

Another development is the CSUS Forecast, a quarterly job outlook for the six-county Capital Region. The inaugural forecast, produced by California Institute for County Government director Matt Newman, Sac State economics professor Suzanne O’Keefe, and Fountain, showed the region should avoid the big employment declines plaguing much of the country. Each quarter, a new forecast will be released.

The University’s Institute for Social Research has also been involved, working with the Regional Research Institute to examine Placer County’s ability to attract technology companies, and helping the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau track what brings visitors to the Capital Region. That study showed that most of the area’s nearly 6.1 million annual visitors are coming for business rather than government stays.

A common theme throughout is the emphasis on the Sacramento Region rather than simply the City of Sacramento.

“A region-wide view is necessary for any of its components to succeed, Fountain says. “When we’re seen as a region, we’re very powerful. Separation between the cities and the counties has never been more irrelevant.”

While the University’s regional involvement has obvious implications for industry, what is often invisible is how that impacts academic programs, Fountain says.

“It’s to the students’ and faculty’s benefit that the University is out in the community. It rejuvenates the faculty and brings a state of the art currency to classroom discussion,” Fountain says. “It makes a difference when the students graduate and go out in the workforce.”

Dean Ramey agrees. “When our faculty members work out in the community, they bring what they learn back into the classroom,” she says.

For more Information:
California Institute for County Government:
Center for California Studies:
Center for Delinquency & Crime Policy Studies:
Center for Small Business: (916) 278-7278
CSUS College of Business Administration:
CSUS College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies:
Institute for Education Reform:
Institute for Social Research:
Korean American Small Business Seminar: (916) 278-7396
Sacramento Regional Research Institute: (916) 441-2144

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