On August 23, the Fall Convocation in the University Theatre welcomed faculty and staff at California State University, Dominguez Hills to the 2010-11 academic year. Dr. Irene Vasquez, chair and professor of Chicana/o studies and chair of the Academic Senate, welcomed her colleagues to the meeting in the University Theatre and introduced President Mildred García, whose annual address focused on the university’s successes and a look ahead to the new Strategic Plan.
“We came through it with respect for each other, civility, compassion, and commitment, never forgetting our high standards and by providing the best education possible,” García said of the 2009-2010 year.
During Convocation, a slideshow honored the achievements and dedication of newly tenured faculty and promoted staff members. President García recognized representatives of two exemplary groups of Dominguez Hills students, the Presidential Scholars cohort and student-athletes. Through the generosity of corporate and private donors, the number of Presidential Scholars award doubled from 11 students last year to 24 for the upcoming academic year. The new group reflects academic diversity, with majors ranging from graphic design to occupational therapy.
García recognized the 76 Toro athletes who earned honor roll status in the spring semester and the 26 athletes who were named to the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) All-Academic Team. She also noted Toro Athletics’ achievements in the 2009-2010 season, which included the women’s soccer team ranking fourth overall in the NCAA Final Four and five Toros baseball players signing with Major League Baseball organizations. She also acknowledged members of the Alumni Advisory Council in the audience who turned out to show their support for their alma mater.
García highlighted the successes the university achieved in 2009-2010 despite budgetary limitations, such as exceeding the university’s enrollment target with a record of 10,488 FTEs and more than 15,000 students on campus, with the Financial Aid Office disbursing more than $92 million to assist students. She also shared the news that the Campus Master Plan was approved by the CSU Board of Trustees. Commencement expenses were greatly reduced due to this spring’s change in ceremony format, saving the university $100,000. In addition, first-time freshmen retention rates increased by four percent, participation in commencement ceremonies increased eight percent, and alumni giving increased 14 percent.
García listed several major gifts to the university, including more than $14 million in faculty and staff grants during the 2009-2010 academic year and recent news of more than $11 million for the 2010-11 academic year. She also highlighted the $1 million endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation in support of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) administered by the College of Extended and International Education.
Finally, García announced the introduction of the university’s new Strategic Plan. A slideshow underscored the main ideas of the plan, which began development last year through findings from focus groups, town halls with the campus and local communities, local and national employment facts, and academic and student data.
“The feedback we received helped us see that during this critical point in our nation’s history it was time to re-examine our institutional vision and mission – those have been reaffirmed and remain focused on the fundamental core which CSU Dominguez Hills was founded upon 50 years ago, which is serving our students and our community,” said García. “The purpose of the plan is to convey the university’s forward-looking vision, to provide a roadmap for our next steps, and build university-wide consensus. It defines our primary objectives and the initiatives that we will implement to strengthen vitality.”
The plan is designed to encompass and build on the areas of Points of Pride, Building Community – both internally and externally – Enrollment Management, and Financial Stability. Core Values such as accountability, collaboration, rigorous standards, and proactive partnerships were highlighted along with goals that include reinforcing CSU Dominguez Hills’ position as a comprehensive urban university; enhancing access to an excellent teaching and learning environment that supports the graduation rates and career success of students; delivering a campus wide enrollment management initiative to identify and recruit future students and support their transition, retention and graduation; achieve fiscal stability and substantially increase revenues through a range of efforts; engage local communities to support CSU Dominguez Hills’ position as the “University of the South Bay;” and systemically improve the quality and cost effectiveness of services to strengthen academic programs and student services.
García emphasized the “living and breathing” nature of the Strategic Plan.
“This will not be a Strategic Plan that sits on a shelf,” she said. “The success of this Strategic Plan will require concerted effort of all campus-wide leadership, faculty and staff, students and alumni across the university. Working together to implement these goals, we will…become a leading model as a comprehensive urban university. More importantly, we have the ability to improve the lives of our students and the communities they enrich.”
President García also announced the continuation of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of CSU Dominguez Hills, including events such as the Presidential Lecture Series, and the university’s second annual hosting of the “Feria Deja Huella” (Educate yourself -Leave Your Mark Fair). The first lecture in the Presidential Lecture Series will take place Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the University Theatre and features Dr. Henry Cisneros, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development and executive chairman of CityView. The Feria will take place on Saturday, Oct. 9 in the University Gym and is presented in partnership with Univision and The Alliance for a Better Community.
President García closed Convocation by expressing her gratitude to faculty and staff for “the support that you have given each other and our students during the last year.”
“You have proven what CSU Dominguez Hills is made of. In spite of all the hard times we are experiencing, we receive such joy in seeing how our students succeed because of our excellent teaching, student-faculty research, student support, and beautiful, clean learning environment,” said García. “Everyone that works here is working toward transforming the lives of our students and our community. Each one of you is an important educator, the link in helping students reach the success they so desire.”
For more information on the Strategic Plan at CSU Dominguez Hills, click here.
For more information on the 50th Anniversary of CSU Dominguez Hills, click here.