“By 2014-15, CSU Bakersfield will be the leading campus in the CSU system in terms of faculty and academic excellence and diversity, quality of the student experience, and community engagement. Realization of our vision will be advanced by recruitment, development and promotion of excellent and diverse staff within an organizational culture committed to excellence in all areas.”
When the vision statement is broken down, it can be seen to have six interdependent components:
Becoming the leading campus in the CSU system
Faculty and academic excellence and diversity
Quality of the student experience
An excellent and diverse staff
An organization culture devoted to excellence in all areas.
BECOMING THE LEADING CAMPUS
It is not our aspiration to become the largest campus in the CSU. Rather, it is our intention to become the best.
We will use this year, 2004-05, as the starting point, or baseline year. For each area of the campus – academic units, administrative units and student services – we will determine or define the appropriate metrics and benchmarks for assessing our current status vis-à-vis the other 22 CSU campuses. From there we will establish unit-specific goals, initiatives, strategies, and timelines. These activities will allow us to measure annually our progress toward realization of our vision.
FACULTY AND ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AND DIVERSITY
Faculty and academic excellence and diversity has several dimensions. First and foremost, it requires that we hire, develop, retain, promote, and tenure faculty members who are outstanding in their fields to provide the exceptional courses and academic programs that will enlighten our students and extend their intellectual curiosity and development. Secondly, the excellent faculty of which I speak must include among its ranks a significant proportion of women and people of color across all academic disciplines.
Such faculty diversity is crucial for several reasons. Students should be able to see themselves reflected somewhere among the faculty who teach them. As faculty members serve as role models and mentors, they can have significant influence in how or whether students find and navigate the pathways to academic success. When students see among the faculty individuals from their own backgrounds who have “made it,” it increases the likelihood that they will see such achievement as a “real” possibility. This is true especially for students who are first-generation college students.
In addition to achieving diversity within an excellent faculty, it is also necessary that the content of courses, curricula, and degree programs reflect a diversity of intellectual thought. Such diversity of thought must extend well beyond, for example, a consideration of the positions of various theorists all of whom work within the context of a Western or Euroamerican world view. The scope of intellectual inquiry must be expanded through the examination of ideas from the perspectives of multiple world views, such as an African centered, Native American centered, Asian American centered, Chicano/Latino centered, and other world views.
Academic excellence also requires that we have adequate classroom, laboratory and research space, state-of-the-art instructional and research technology and equipment, and adequate funding for other instructional and research needs. In addition, it requires assessment to assure that instructional objectives are being met.
Faculty and academic excellence and diversity requires partnerships among the faculty, department chairs, deans, the academic senate, the provost and the president. University Advancement will play a significant role by raising private funds to augment inadequate state funding. The Provost will provide additional funding during 2004-05 to assist faculty in writing proposals for research contracts and grants.
The campus strategic plan, to which I referred earlier, contains several goals related to faculty and academic excellence and diversity. That document will be published within the next several weeks and will have integrated within it the new goals that have been developed based on our new vision.
QUALITY OF THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
The quality of the experiences that students have at CSUB affects their campus engagement and their retention. It is also a factor that affects our enrollment management – our ability to maintain the student enrollment levels at which we are budgeted. As a psychologist and a former vice chancellor for student affairs, I place a great value on campus student development programs as important complements to our students’ engagement with the faculty in the classroom and laboratory. Such programs support the development of leadership and other skills that will serve them, and their communities, well in the future.
Therefore, the quality of the student experience will have a renewed focus. During 2004-05, the Vice President for Student Affairs will develop a comprehensive plan, which will include:
new initiatives and programs that advance student development;
programs, services and facilities that enhance the quality of student and campus life; and
programs targeted to increase student retention. In addition, campus units and departments that serve students will increase the student-centered nature of their services within their general focus on customer service.
CSUB has a long and distinguished history of community engagement. You have heard a lot about that already. However, the awareness of our efforts is not very widespread beyond those who have been direct observers or beneficiaries of university programs. Therefore, many community members have expressed the view that they have been waiting for the University to “step up” and get more involved with the community. Such a desire was stated in the widely developed community document “Vision 2020,” which included specific references to the role of CSUB in the region’s future. During 2004-05, CSUB will become more involved in the activities of the Kern Economic Development Corporation, along with elected officials and business and civic leaders, to promote further the economic development of the region.
As state funding will not be restored to allow CSUB to reach its full potential for serving the people of this region, we will have a renewed focus on campus fundraising, including laying the groundwork for a major capital campaign. Former UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien used to say, “The State gives us the funds for this to be a ‘good’ university, not an ‘excellent’ university.” He said the margin for excellence was provided through the generosity of the university’s alumni and friends. Such will be the case for CSUB as well. We will strengthen our partnerships with alumni, our foundations, the advisory board and the general community.
AN EXCELLENT AND DIVERSE STAFF
The CSUB staff plays an essential role in advancing the campus’ academic mission. Whether as an assistant in a laboratory, a programmer in information resources, an administrative assistant or analyst in human resources, or a groundskeeper in facilities management, each staff member makes a contribution to our ability to have the academic, physical, technological, and human resources infrastructures that are essential for maintaining a quality environment in which the campus community works, learns, and lives.
In some departments staffing is down to the bare bones level. I will not continue the usual trend of asking staff to “do more with less.” Instead, I am asking managers and supervisors to work with their staff to clarify priorities and to work with their campus customers to communicate and manage shared expectations.
AN ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE IN ALL AREAS
The sixth and final component of our vision statement is “an organizational culture committed to excellence in all areas.” My reference point for focusing on organizational culture is my experience of UC Berkeley over the previous nine years. When I went to Berkeley in 1995 as the Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services, my initial concentration was on those departments that reported directly to me. Since those departments provided services and administrative systems that impacted the management of the whole campus, I became concerned about the quality of campus management in general. As I learned more about what was happening in different campus units, I came to understand that the real issue that differentiated units as being “effective” or “ineffective” was not simply the differences in staff skill levels, but, rather, the organizational culture – the set of beliefs, values and attitudes held by staff that shaped their approach to carrying out their responsibilities. I then focused on organizational culture change with the goal of having the best practices among campus departments become the campus standards.
At CSUB, we will review our policies, procedures, practices and systems and implement “best practices” across all areas of the campus. We will work hard to be sure that staff in all campus departments have the beliefs, values, and attitudes that advance our vision of excellence.
Another significant factor that affects a campus’ organizational culture is whether or not there exists a sense of campus community – a shared sense of purpose, belonging, and mutual respect and shared accountability for the institutions’ future. Current UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl said in his inaugural address in 1998, “The fundamental ecology of a just community is that each member must put back into it at least as much as they take out.” His statement speaks to the need for each of us to be net contributors to the campus, rather than being someone who consumes a disproportionate amount of the campus’ energy and goodwill with our own issues. Campus Community is seen in an ethos of service to the institution and to each other. It is characterized by an atmosphere of open communication, transparency in decision-making processes, and interpersonal relationships among faculty, students and staff that reflect mutual support, mentoring and good colleagueship.