CSUN is at a crossroads, said Jolene Koester, the campus president, as she delivered her eighth annual convocation speech on Tuesday on the front lawn of the Oviatt Library.
Her speech, “Cal State University, Northridge: Regionally Focused, Nationally Recognized,” emphasized broadening the campus’ academic appeal and success to a national level, as the school will have to compete for what will gradually become a limited pool of students who are reaching the age in which they start applying to colleges.
John Chandler, director of public relations and strategic communications, said, “everyone in the San Fernando Valley knows CSUN or someone who has graduated from CSUN.”
“It’s part of the fabric of the Valley and surrounding communities. The main point the president wanted to convey was that she wants that appreciation people have for CSUN, its reputation, to extend throughout the state of California and even beyond that,” he said.
Koester said CSUN “is the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the San Fernando Valley and beyond. We are a vital force and valuable asset to the region that we serve.”
Its vitality helps generate $680 million and employ 12,000 people in the Valley. The campus itself has 5,800 people on its payroll, one of the top ten employers in the region.
But in order to expand to these new horizons, there must be an understanding of how CSUN defines itself as a learning institution and to build upon that reputation, she said.
“We must articulate more clearly who and what we are – first to ourselves, and then to a combination of prospective students, future faculty and staff, and to key segments of the public at large,” she said. Vice President of University Advancement Vance Peterson has been chosen to develop strategies to let the rest of the world about CSUN’s reputation.
With this reputation comes grantees of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar and award-winning writers on CSUN’s teaching staff, a nationally ranked teacher preparation program, a diverse student body and many degrees in cultural studies, just to name a few.
Making certain more students graduate in a timely manner, communicating effectively with the communities both on and off campus and broadening fund raising efforts have all been presidential priorities that have helped CSUN in earning such a reputation, she said.
In addition to recognizing this reputation, the campus must build upon these priorities through continuing academic excellence with the help of its renowned faculty and its staff members, furthering the effectiveness of communication within the school and the community and becoming even more independent of the state for funding, Koester said.
Building upon CSUN’S reputation for the future will also involve literal building, as construction will soon begin on the Science 5 Building, a parking structure on Zelzah, an expansion of student housing facilities, faculty housing and the Performing Arts Center.
Terry Piper, vice president of student affairs, was present during the president’s speech and said it was “the finest convocation speech she has given in her time here at CSUN.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Harry Hellenbrand also heard the speech.
“It’s time for us to trumpet our accomplishments. It’d be good for our reputation and in terms of funding. You really have to become a player on a national stage to be successful.”