As we near the end of the calendar year, I find myself looking back on the whirlwind that has been my first six months at Cal State LA while looking ahead to a bright future for the College, its students, and faculty. Highlights of the fall semester include the reopening of the State Playhouse and the Self Help Graphics and Mark Steven Greenfield exhibits held in the Fine Arts Gallery. I enjoyed performances by theatre students and choir students and had the opportunity to serve as a judge at the annual public speaking showcase. Over 1,800 Cal State LA freshmen took Oral Communication this fall and hundreds of students attended this showcase event to cheer on the eight finalists who had been selected by their peers to present speeches on topics ranging from ending high school dress codes to ending life without parole sentencing. Erika Arriaga won the top prize of a $200 book scholarship for her speech about Eliminating the Stigma of Mental Illness.
Our college faculty achievements were highlighted at a recent reception sponsored by the Office of Research and Creative Activity. Professor of Music John Kennedy presented his recent musical composition achievements; Sarah Beeby, Assistant Professor of Art, composed a poster of stills from her latest animated short, “Gardening”; and Assistant Professor of Communication Cynthia Wang displayed a poster about “GlobaltraQs: An LGBTQ Digital Map of Stories.” It was wonderful to see just some of the breadth of achievement from within our own College of Arts & Letters alongside faculty from across all of Cal State LA.
One of my passions is making sure students who study the arts and humanities have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in life and work. I was interviewed recently by CNBC about some ways that higher education institutions can provide students with the skills they need to navigate both their discipline and the larger economy in which we live. As we move into 2019, I look forward to collaborating with the faculty of the college and our other partners on continuing to build pathways for our students’ academic and professional success.
On a personal note, I wish each and every one of you a Happy Holiday and a Joyous New Year,