President’s annual address reaffirms CSUN faculty and staff

Photo credit: Lauren Turner Dunn

President Dianne Harrison gave her Annual Welcome Address at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts Thursday morning.

To welcome faculty and staff members back to campus, Harrison was joined on stage with Adam Swenson, Faculty President and Jonathan Goldenberg, A.S. president.

“Achievements over this past year collectively, have contributed to CSUN’s rising reputation and our region and nationally,” Harrison said. “The credit all goes to you, to our faculty and staff and students whose dedication and hard work on behalf of our campus and our students have made many take notice.”

Harrison highlighted accomplishments from multiple departments on cnmpus, students, faculty and staff, alumni and events such as Varjam and Bullring.

Harrison continued her speech and discussed current issues and challenges in our society.

“Questions remain about what policies might be coming from our federal government,” Harrison said. “What this means for universities is a lack of certainty in different areas. For our DACA students, educational policies, in STEM fields, financial aid, research funding, Title IX and more.”

Harrison said another challenge is the governor and state’s decision to invest in the CSU system. She asked faculty and staff members to keep doing what they are doing, which is to: “Tell our stories, advocate, and stay focused on staying committed to students and excellence.”

Almost everyone in the Soraya was given a Matador Rising button that said “We Can Do This.” The new student success campaign encourages students to take 15 units each semester with the goal to graduate on time. Graduation rates have increased, by 3 percent when looking at two-year transfer students and 1 percent by four-year freshman students.

Curriculum reform is also a challenge and as a result, some lower division professors did workshops to close opportunity gaps and approach courses in new ways.

Four new deans will be hired later this year, and Harrison said her focus is on making sure the four of them help increase and create diversity on campus.

“She’s [Harrison] doing what she’s supposed to do but she’s not faking it,” said Nate Thomas, Cinema and Television Arts professor. “When I hear something like this speech today it makes me proud to be here at CSUN. I have been here for 29 years and I love it. I’m at the right campus.”

Harrison was appointed in 2012 and Dr. Vickie Jensen, Criminology and Justice Studies Chair said that speech in particular felt like she knows CSUN and that she is advocating of the campus.

“I am always inspired at this event every year to hear everything that we have done the past year and the goals and expectations and opportunities that we have going into the future,” said Shellie Hadvina, Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving.

CSUN now has graduation and retention advisors who work with students who do not register for classes or plan on returning to CSUN. With a new data tool faculty and staff members are able to see departments where students may not be succeeding. The tool allows professors to see where they can improve when it comes to student-professor relations.

“There is a passionate, engaged, confident and talented pool of faculty and staff on campus that care deeply about students and you see that and I felt that in that room today,” Hadvina said.