September 21. 2011
I feel out of place. We should all be up here thanking and congratulating each other. We are all proud that our mission is about student success. We are all proud of the many recognitions that the campus has received and continues to receive.
To achieve our impressive gains in graduating students over the past five and 10 years has required a community of dedicated people. This has been a joint effort of all the Divisions of the University – Academic Affairs, Student Services, Administration and Finance, and University Relations and Development.
Student Services is a direct partner with Academic Affairs in educating our students in and out of the classroom. A student who has only had classroom educational experiences on our campus is not a fully educated person. The Division of Administration and Finance has been stalwart in its commitment to seeing that we have the support to offer the classes we need for our students. The Division of University Relations and Development has added critical external funding, which includes much needed scholarship resources that allow our students to study instead of work.
Our thanks to the Divisions and Vice Presidents Doug Robinson, Mary Stephens and Andrea Taylor.
A relationship with one caring person is critical to student success in college, according to both experience and national research. CSULB's faculty members support students, one student at a time, by:
CSULB's department chairs support students by modeling student-friendly attitudes, ensuring that students can get seats in needed classes, ensuring that students receive needed advising, supporting and encouraging department student groups, streamlining curriculum and simplifying requirements whenever possible, and in other ways.
CSULB's staff members support students by making offices friendly and welcoming places, providing useful information, ensuring needed advising, ensuring timely availability for signatures and support, resolving problems, and in so many other ways. We know that without the staff, this enterprise we call CSULB would crumble.
Many hundreds of people across campus have contributed to CSULB's gains and of course I cannot call out all of them. I do want to recognize a few real leaders in improving support for students.
Our advisors focused on student success long before the rest of us had it on our radar. They pioneered projects to help students graduate earlier, like Destination Graduation and the Learning Alliance. Special recognitions go to Bron Pellisier and Gayle Fenton, among many early student success pioneers, and Lynn Mahoney for continuing and expanding this important work.
If students can't get the classes to make progress to degree, they can't graduate. Monitoring the schedule of classes is difficult, unglamorous, and often underappreciated work. It is also extremely important to student success. Helen Batchelor has done an outstanding job of working with college enrollment managers to reduce course bottlenecks and facilitate student course taking. This semester the number of courses per students is at an all-time high. Special recognition goes to Helen for her outstanding efforts. Recognition is also due for the college enrollment managers, often the associate deans, who have worked hard to see that students get the classes they need.
Improving our graduation rates, in some cases, requires that we review our curricula for inadvertent complexities. While all colleges are engaged in reviewing their curricula, the College of the Arts and the College of Health and Human Services, in particular, are making great strides in identifying hidden curricular obstacles and reducing the number of units required for graduation. Kudos to Sue Stanley in the College of Health and Human Services and Chris Miles and Cyrus Parker-Jeannette in the College of the Arts for their leadership in this area.
A tremendous number of students want to become nurses and only perhaps 10 percent can be successful. This created very serious problems for that pipeline. Sue Stanley also deserves kudos for her leadership in addressing these pre-nursing issues.
In the College of Engineering, Dean Forouzan Golshani and Associate Dean Dhushy Sathianathan have shown excellent leadership in improving advising and student support and now they are focusing on learning communities and gateway courses.
The United States is not graduating scientists and engineers at a rate adequate to the needs of the US economy. By one estimate, if current trends continue, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers in the world will live in Asia. The problem is made worse by the fact that science majors on many campuses are particularly challenging for students to complete degrees.
For this reason, we are grateful for the leadership being provided by Dean Laura Kingsford in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics to tackle the large challenge for that college with supplemental instruction for low completion rate courses and other strategies. We applaud her recently adding her college to Project Kaleidoscope, a national effort to improve instruction in science fields.
The University Advising Plan requires that all CSULB undergraduates receive, at a minimum, one advising contact per year and requires that certain cohorts of students deemed more at-risk than others receive mandatory advising.
During the 2011-12 academic year, colleges and all advising units will draft plans demonstrating how they will meet the plan's advising objectives. The plans will be reviewed by the Advising Task Force in spring 2012 and will go into effect in 2012-13. This represents another important step in our efforts to create an increasingly proactive advising program. Kudos to the Advising Task Force led by Lynn Mahoney.
Effective fall 2010, students requiring two semesters of developmental math and one semester of developmental writing are required to participate in the Beach Learning Community (BLC).
Students in the BLC register for a common set of courses and receive additional academic support, including Supplemental Instruction, tutoring, and enhanced academic advising. Students have ready access to tutors and an academic advisor in the BLC Room. The BLC room is also available for BLC students to use computers, print material, or for a quiet place to study.
Preliminary data for the fall 2010 cohort suggests that the program is effective at improving first-year outcomes for "triple" pre-baccalaureate students. Fall 2010 BLC students currently have higher first-year GPAs and a larger percentage are in good academic standing than were fall 2009 freshmen with similar scores.
A number of people and units have contributed to this program, including Henry Fung, Mark Wiley, Tanisha Peoples, Gen Ramirez, Dana Hooten and Gayle Fenton. Overall leadership is now provided by Lynn Mahoney.
The Faculty Development Task Force has pioneered a process for examining and improving low completion rate courses and now is working toward helping faculty to use active learning methods that are more effective with today's students, especially in science and engineering disciplines. Special recognition goes to Terre Allen for her leadership on this important issue.
In 2011, we launched an enhanced and expanded Supplemental Instruction Program that included a significant faculty development component and was better integrated into the work of departments. In 2009-10, we offered only nine sections of Supplemental Instruction per semester for students in low completion rate courses, such as chemistry, accounting and mathematics.
In spring 2011, as part of the Highly Valued Degrees Initiative (HVDI), we were able to increase this number to 26 sections. We will offer 26 sections again and we continue to work on using these to both enhance faculty teaching and to improve student learning. Kudos to Terre Allen and Gen Ramirez for this work.
Our campus Latino population is the fastest growing and now the largest ethnic subgroup. The Student Support Task Force conducted a successful Spanish-language Parent Orientation this past summer.
Over 300 parents and family members attended two Spanish-language parent orientation programs in August. This program focused on the importance of earning an undergraduate degree and on the demands of higher education. Sessions were held on understanding degree requirements, university expectations, financial aid and careers, among other things. Kudos are due to Gloria Inzunza-Franco and Gen Ramirez for their efforts.
We base our decisions and make our plans on what the students need. We could not do this without data. Institutional Research continues to provide excellent data support to our student success effort. Kudos go to Van Novack and his staff.
A special thanks to Associate Vice President Tom Enders and his staff. Dealing with 71,000 applications a year is a monumental task. Last Spring, Tom and his staff were amazing in the way they handled the very late decision to open for many new admissions.
Thanks to our deans: Mike Solt, Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Forouzan Golshani, Ken Millar, Gerry Riposa, and former Interim Dean Jay Kvapil.
The university HVDI Initiatives depend on the good work of the task forces. Thanks to task force leaders Mary Ann Takemoto, Lynn Mahoney, Cecile Lindsay, Holly Harbinger and Van Novack.
Effective organizations have a clear mission. And, in effective organizations, everyone in the organization understands the mission. The mission at CSULB is student success and that student success is everyone's job. President Alexander has been clear from "day one" that student success is the mission of this campus. When he talks with new students and their parents he tells them "graduation begins today" - and he means it. He shakes hands with 9,000 students at nine graduation ceremonies for a reason. We are most fortunate to have him as our leader.
When we talk about student success, in particular, I'd like to acknowledge Dave Dowell for his leadership of the HVDI initiative as well as for years of successful efforts to improve student success. For a long time, Dave was an early, often lonely but very strong voice for student success. When President Alexander arrived, Dave knew he had a kindred spirit who also placed student success not as a priority but as our campus mission.
So much of this campus' success with students is directly attributable to the "life and times" of David Dowell – to the direct impact Dave has had in creating, supporting, and, on occasion, redirecting student success initiatives and programs. His impact on students has been significant.
Lynn Mahoney also warrants special mention. She has put the mechanics, if you will, of student success on the fast track. Her impact on essential elements of student success such as advising, identifying and addressing issues related to reducing barriers, reducing units to degree, and the like is hard to quantify. She has also been an outstanding partner in working with the Division of Student Services in our joint responsibilities to our students.
Clearly student success takes a village. Actually with the size of CSULB it takes a small city. You have all helped us make so much progress. You have all been critically important to our success. While we are very pleased with the progress that has been made, we still have a long way to go. And, we will continue to improve. Student success will continue to be our priority. Thank you.