The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN’s President Jolene Koester gives annual convocation

Photo Credit: Natalia Berezyuk / Staff Reporter

Continuous planning for the future, open dialogue, and student success were at the top of President Jolene Koester’s list for what she wants to see happen this year.

At the President’s Annual Convocation, Koester congratulated faculty and staff on a furlough year well done.

“We must continue this journey with planning as our mantra,” Koester said.

The pain of last year’s $41 million budget cut and decrease in enrollment of 3,500 students is still being felt as all divisions were required to take a further 5 percent budget cut this year.

“We must set aside our hope that there will be another gold rush that would preserve our sense of entitlement to state dollars,” she said.

For the past two decades there has been a decline in the funding for schools, especially during a recession. Even as the economy gets better, the funding never goes back up to pre-recession levels.

“This is the new reality and reversal is unforeseeable,” Koester said.

Koester said one of the university’s most important challenges is to maintain academic excellence and student success with reduced funding.

Despite careful planning, there are more students than anticipated. However, there is still hope that a state budget might be approved with additional funds, Koester said. She added that the university is attempting to respond now by adding additional course spaces.

She implored the faculty to aid the students however possible in order to keep up retention and graduation rates.

“I ask you to please help our students navigate this very difficult environment,” Koester said.

Ever-changing technology provides challenges as well, specifically a potential change in the university model. The incoming students are a product of the digital age and they might struggle to find engagement in traditional schools.

“In many ways, this new model of higher education threatens the very definition of what we think of as a college or university, and yet many students are choosing it,” Koester said.

Other goals for the year are restructuring basic administration in order to be more efficient and cut down on cost, Koester said.

Helping the environment will also cut down costs, she said. Last year CSUN commissioned a study of ways to reduce the environmental footprint and this year the university hopes to implement some of those suggestions.

The Physical Plant Management (PPM) has already installed a Computerized Irrigation Control System, which saves 56 million gallons of water annually.

Koester also mentioned in her speech that faculty members have organized a year-long initiative on “Civil Discourse and Social Change.” Reverend James Lawson, who is a prominent civil rights leader and an associate of Martin Luther King, will present this series of lectures and activities.

Members of the audience of Koester’s convocation responded well to what she said.

“I come to hear Dr. Koester speak to feel inspired and it makes me feel proud to work here,” said Stacy Schaaf, assistant to the director of user support services in the Information Technology division.

English Professor Sharon Klein said she is always impressed by Koester and is happy to hear about the increase in dialogue.

“You never leave feeling down, you leave feeling hopeful and capable,” said Merrie White, managing director of community engagement.

Neil Sanchez, vice president of associated students, said it is hard to disagree with what Koester said because as a president she is not going to make things up.

**Britten Fay contributed to this report.

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