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CSU Chancellor visits Cal State LA

January 20, 2016


During a daylong visit to Cal State LA, Chancellor Timothy P. White witnessed the University’s success in providing innovative learning—and the challenges of meeting the University’s needs.   

“I think you have a lot to be proud of,” White told the University community, during a sometimes raucous forum held in the Golden Eagle Ballrooms.

The visit Tuesday was part of the chancellor’s “Innovations in the Learning Environment” tour of all 23 CSU campuses.

The day began with a stop at the Television, Film and Media Center, where Bridget Murnane, professor of production, Matt Gatlin, broadcast engineer, and graduate student, Moses Guerrero, gave a presentation on motion capture technology. Motion capture or MoCap is used in the making of film and games to create more realistic movements. Actors performing in MoCap scenes wear special motion capture suits affixed with sensors that allow for the creation of 3-D digital character animations.

White donned a black MoCap suit, then punched, karate-chopped and kicked his way across a huge stage, following a script. Those movements were translated onto the body of an animated superhero drawn in White’s likeness. The result was a fun, one-minute animated film: Super Chancellor Defender of the University.

Later in the morning, White visited the Student Health Center where he learned about the Mind Matters Initiative from President William A. Covino and First Lady Dr. Debbie Covino. He also met with about 30 members of the Student Health Advisory Committee, who educate others about health and wellness.

The SHAC students discussed the training they receive that enables them to educate others. They described their manner of approaching and responding to students who seem to be under pressure or stress.

They have to be respectful, the students said. They want to show concern, to show that someone cares so that the student feels supported and may go to seek help from the Student Health Center.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a more engaged set of students,” White later said of the SHAC students. “I was very, very impressed with that group.”

Harkmore Lee, director of the Center on Child Welfare/Simulation, Research and Training Program, introduced the chancellor to the Residential Simulation Lab. This unique learning space in Salazar Hall has helped prepare more than 700 students across seven academic disciplines. The 550-square-foot apartment can be transformed through the use of props and furniture to create realistic environments to train students in fields such as social work, nursing, kinesiology, criminal justice, and criminalistics.

With the chancellor looking on, and sometimes participating, students enacted scenes: a social worker and a distraught mother, fearful of losing custody of her child; criminalists at a murder scene; and detectives and journalists at a news conference.  

Student participants said learning in this real-world environment provides invaluable experiences.

CSU Chancellor White with PBI Executive Director.“It just doesn’t compare to reading it from a textbook,” one student said.

Throughout the day White met with representatives from various parts of the University: Facilities Services, Public Safety, and with members of the Academic Senate Executive Committee, the Outstanding Professor Awardees, and the President’s Distinguished Professor.

A highlight of the chancellor’s visit was the open forum held in the Golden Eagle Ballrooms. During opening remarks, the chancellor praised several University programs. He noted that the National Science Foundation has cited Cal State LA for graduating more Latino students who go on to earn the Ph.D. in science and engineering fields than any other master’s university in the continental U.S.  

“That’s a point of enormous pride for the CSU and it should be a point of enormous pride for you,” White said.

The chancellor also commended the Mind Matters Initiative as “a great example, focusing on the whole well-being of our students.” 

Moderated by Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA, the forum was an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to engage in dialogue with the chancellor.

The discussion was marked by pointed questions from faculty members and others on the issue of a salary increase. Some in the audience carried signs. The CSU has proposed a 2 percent increase; CFA is pushing for a 5 percent increase. Currently the CSU and the CFA are in a cooling off period over the issue.

During the visit, the CFA held a news conference and a protest regarding salary. At one point during the forum, some in the audience rose and turned their backs to the chancellor. Because of ongoing negotiations the chancellor declined to comment on some questions, but he asked that the energy and anger evident in the forum be used to appeal for sufficient funding from Sacramento. 

Photos: Top, CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White meets Cal State LA students participating in the Residential Simulation Lab demonstration. Bottom, CSU Chancellor White and Pat Brown Institute Executive Director Raphael Sonenshein during Tuesday's open forum in the Golden Eagle Ballrooms. (J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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Cal State LA is a university dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 27,000 students and 240,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the city we serve. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Cal State LA has long been recognized as an engine of economic and social mobility. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex, TV, Film and Media Center and the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. For more information, visit