Fall Faculty Day 2006

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Fall Faculty Day 2007

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Speech Delivered by Provost Desdemona Cardoza at Fall Faculty Day on September 17, 2007

Once again, Good Morning and Welcome.

And thank you for making me feel welcome as your new Provost.

Cal State Los Angeles has been my home for the past twenty years. In a sense, I feel that I have grown up here.

My experience with this institution has spanned five different positions, across two different divisions.

This has provided me with the opportunity to look across the University in its broadest aspects and gain an understanding of a complex institution, made up of complex sets of people.

This has also contributed to my ability to see the breadth and the depth of the many issues facing CSULA today.

Some of these challenges are different than those facing us when I began in 1987, but many are remarkably similar.

As many of you know, I served as the Dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences for the past six years.

And in this capacity, I spent a great deal of my time contemplating, what I perceive as being, the major academic challenges and opportunities facing our University.

We are an incredible institution.

We have accomplished a lot.

There are, however, a number of challenges that I see for us in the next few years.

Although we are 60 years old, I believe that we are just coming of age.

I think that we are facing the crises of adolescence as we try to determine just exactly what we want to be.

As the Dean of NSS I had the opportunity to participate in a number of planning retreats with the academic leadership of the University.

But in all of these meetings and discussions we never asked the really difficult questions: “Who are we? And “Who do we want to be?”

In order to answer these questions I think that we need to focus on some key issues.

I have translated these into six strategic areas which I feel need to be our focus going forward.

1. Student Outreach, Recruitment and Retention. While maintaining our commitment to providing quality educational opportunities to our service area, outreach and recruitment strategies need to focus on:

• New cohorts of students reflective of the demographics of our area of influence.
• Students who are “better prepared” for college level studies.
• Students majoring in those fields necessary to populate California’s workforce in a highly dynamic, technology advanced, and globally structured 21st century economy.
• Providing the necessary support to facilitate student retention and graduation in a timely manner.

2. Providing a Supportive Educational Environment. It is essential that we continue to create and support a cohesive educational environment that connects teaching, learning and research to maximize the educational experience of all of our students.

This environment must ensure that all of our students have optimal chances to be academically successful.

We must continue to provide our students with an education that adds value to the quality of their lives and gives them a competitive edge in seeking to fulfill their academic and career goals.

3. Recruitment and Retention of Quality Faculty. Cal State L.A. must continue to attract, support and retain a quality faculty.

We must develop a comprehensive faculty development plan that addresses salary and reward structure, differentiated assignments, sabbaticals, facilities and research support including travel, start-up funds, equipment, other technologies as well as the library.

4. Niche Disciplines. We must build on our current and potential unique strengths and expertise.

Then we must target our resources to develop a competitive edge in those areas where there is strong external demand and current or potential quality.

5. Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Partnerships and Alliances. We must continue to promote interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary cooperation to facilitate the creation of new and innovative partnerships and alliances that respond to societal needs and prepare students for a dynamic work environment.

And finally,

6. Organization, Effectiveness, Efficiency and Communication. In order for us to become and remain competitive in the areas of student and faculty recruitment and retention, CSULA must become an organization that effectively and efficiently serves and communicates to all members of our community.

One of the things that I learned as Dean of NSS was how to juggle. At the time I thought I had mastered the skill quite well and was able to keep quite a few balls in the air at one time.

Little did I know that as Provost, not only would the number of balls increase significantly, but their weight would also increase.

So once again, I am working to hone and improve my juggling skills.

But in all of this, I need to remind myself that one of those balls is special, and all of us must be very careful not to drop it.

And that ball is the students.

As members of the CSULA community we must remember that the students are at the center of all that we do.

So I am asking that you as the faculty be patient with me as I learn to improve my juggling and keep even more and heavier balls in the air.

I believe that the role of the provost is to work collaboratively with the faculty and administrative leadership of the institution to inspire high quality academic development and performance in all areas of the University.

As we all are aware, out of necessity this is done in an environment where resources and commitments must be selective.

Therefore, part of my responsibility as the provost is to remind the community that we cannot be all things to all people.

Therefore we must follow the advice of Nietzsche when he said, “You must become who you are.”

CSULA must decide who we are and who we serve.

Then we must become what we are, and be the best at it.

I believe that this is the fundamental starting point for a much needed academic planning process at CSULA.

Let us leave here today and renew our commitment to become what we are, or as the Athenian Oath would have it, “Thus in all these ways we will transmit this Place, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Thank you.

And now it is my pleasure to introduce the person who is truly the master juggler here at Cal State L.A., President James M. Rosser.



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