Educational Achievements and Regional Aspirations, A Progress Report

  • September 1, 2007

The fall quarter 2007 convocation address by California State University, East Bay President Mo Qayoumi, Sept. 24, 2007.

TAKING STOCK OF OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Last year, I had the honor of giving my first convocation address at Cal State East Bay just before the first 100 days of my presidency. In that address, I briefly focused on my core values and outlined priorities for the coming year. My purpose was to begin a tradition for us to come together before the beginning of the fall quarter to review the health of our university. Following this course, I want to take stock of our prior year accomplishments and discuss two important priorities for the upcoming year. I also present a brief overview of larger emerging urban trends and workforce needs that have a direct bearing on the university's role in contributing through education to the economic vitality of the Bay Area. In addition, I examine ways we can better organize our efforts as an educational institution to provide instruction that contributes to more effective learning outcomes for our students.

During this past year I have been profoundly impressed by the dedication of our faculty and staff, exhilarated by the excellence of academic programs, and truly excited by the engagement of our student body leadership. I have learned a great deal about your aspirations through 21 town hall meetings. Through our expanding outreach efforts such as Super Sunday, the Puente Transfer Motivational Conference and the Hispanic and African American educational summits, we gained a better understanding about the educational aspirations of the youth in our local communities The university has an immense positive impact on our region that is not always apparent to our constituents and friends. We can proudly boast of 90,000 alumni, 80 percent who live in the Bay Area and work in almost every conceivable business and occupation. This makes Cal State East Bay an indispensable player in the region's workforce.

Today, as I reflect back on the past year, I recognize the debt of gratitude owed to so many of you for rising to the occasion, doing what is necessary, and offering me reliable and persistent support. The results of our teamwork and dedication are self-evident. Last year, I presented the following priorities:

  • Increasing our enrollment
  • Stabilizing and making our university finances transparent
  • Increasing the number of tenured and tenure track faculty
  • Enhancing the physical conditions on our campuses

I am pleased to report to you that we are making tremendous progress on every one of these goals and have achieved or surpassed our expectations. We should take measure of how far we have been able to travel along our journey. But we must also recognize that additional work lies ahead. Making progress on these priorities is tangible evidence that we are implementing the seven mandates established as a result of the 21 town hall meetings held last fall. Here are additional examples of the progress we are making together.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to report is that California State University, East Bay has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report's 2008 edition of "America's Best Colleges" guide as a "top-tier" institution among master's-granting universities in the West. This is a noteworthy achievement for Cal State East Bay. It not only attests to the quality of our academic offerings, but acknowledges our commitment to delivering on the expectations and dreams of students of all backgrounds. At the same time, The Princeton Review recognized us as a "Best in the West" university for the fourth straight year!

I am proud to report that efforts to increase access and attain full enrollment are succeeding. Last year we had a record freshman enrollment and this year we will break last year's record. Enrollment in 2006-07 increased 3.3% compared to the prior year. Summer enrollment in 2007 was 2 percent higher than summer 2006 and we anticipate future enrollment increases beyond the target set for this year.

We are also taking strides to become a more efficient university with a culture of accountability. A new Planning, Assessment and Budget Committee has been formed. The committee is chaired by the provost and includes members of the Academic Senate, administrators, staff and students. The committee plays a proactive role that includes setting benchmarks and performance measures, budget monitoring, shared decision-making and uniform reporting.

A financial data warehouse has been created to make financial data more accessible and accurate in strategic decisions. And a three-year financial plan has been implemented to fund academic growth and balancs the structural deficit of the university.

To build a lasting culture of new support for educational excellence and innovation at Cal State East Bay, I am pleased to announce a 26 percent increase in our philanthropic productivity over the past three years, with a 64 increase increase in the university's total endowment.

To maintain a tradition of teaching and learning, 30 tenure track faculty have been hired in 2007 and searches will be conducted for 41 more faculty this year.

Actions have been taken to enhance the physical appearance of our campuses.

  • Several highly visible landscape projects, particularly on Carlos Bee Boulevard and Harder Road, have been completed and more are in the works.
  • Much needed new campus signage has been installed and the first phase of roadway repairs completed. A number of other ongoing projects will substantially improve the appearance of our campuses.
  • Classroom renovations have included painting, installation of new blinds and whiteboards, and new classroom furniture. We also are replacing some of the furniture in the library.
  • The students initiated plans for a much-needed recreation and wellness center.
  • A third phase of housing construction, which will add 472 beds and a new dining commons.

Last year, the breadth and depth of the university's community outreach activities expanded as we strove to meet our regional stewardship responsibilities. Our dedicated staff in student services, enrollment planning and other divisions established and strengthened relationships in several areas. These efforts included reaching out to underserved populations, improving governmental relations, increasing contact with elected officials and leaders in industry, and enlarging outreach activities to K-12 schools.

Although too numerous to list in detail, these outreach activities and university sponsored events involved thousands of students and interested individuals. Perhaps one of the most stimulating events was the workforce "listening tour" that we hosted for Lt. Gov. John Garamendi that included representatives from business, education, government, labor and the non-profit sectors.

In addition to the successes related to our four priorities last year, we had a host of other laudable accomplishments. It is not possible to properly acknowledge them all, but a few examples are highlighted here.

  • We continued our dominance in the CSU Research Competition last year with three of our students winning first place awards. No campus had more first place awards than Cal State East Bay.
  • The College of Science expanded the nursing program, with more than $3 million received from health care foundations in a strategic alliance to meet the regional need for nurses.
  • The Concord campus initiated a local bachelor of science degree program in nursing with 45 first level students as part of our regional stewardship in meeting the workforce needs in Contra Costa County. Another 65 new students are enrolled for fall 2007.
  • The university's first independent doctoral degree program, housed in CEAS, will go through a final approval process and is scheduled to begin in the fall quarter 2008
  • The College of Science obtained a $250,000 grant from Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Center (MESA) for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to assist our outreach to underrepresented students in math and science in middle and high schools.
  • The College of Science was selected by the CSU to develop and implement a summer internship program for science teachers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
  • The number of students enrolled in the American Language Program this fall is double that of last year, helping to fill International House to capacity.

PRIORITIES FOR CAL STATE EAST BAY, 2007-2008

The Strategic Academic Plan

Having described these accomplishments, it is important to emphasize that Cal State East Bay has two overriding priorities this year that will set the stage for what the university aspires to accomplish over the next few years. One of these priorities involves a strategic planning process and the other involves WASC re-accreditation. As you are probably aware, the university has initiated academic planning and physical master planning processes that will inform and shape the future enrollment growth, academic programs, facilities and infrastructures at our Hayward and Concord campuses. These planning initiatives will also direct priorities for the comprehensive fundraising campaign expected to launch during 2008-09.

The provost has formed an academic planning task force consisting primarily of faculty and administrators in Academic Affairs. The vice president and staff from Planning and Enrollment Management are providing technical support to the task force. The task force will contribute to program development and curriculum planning, help prepare the campus master plan, and guide priorities for fundraising. The task force, which will meet weekly and submit its report in December 2007, is charged with the following activities:

  • Identify CSUEB's strategic academic advantages;
  • Establish the distribution of enrollments by colleges and disciplines according to program size and mix;
  • Explore alternative pedagogies and learning modes;
  • Recommend the overall rate and composition of enrollment growth for the university;
  • Make recommendations regarding the distribution of programs by location;
  • Articulate the role of university-wide programs for all students-beyond general education;
  • Examine alternative academic scenarios and their implications; and
  • Facilitate a discussion of issues, scenarios and their implications through co-sponsorship of university forums with external stakeholders from industry, government and non-profit sectors.

All of these tasks critically bear on the opportunities Cal State East Bay has to fulfill its seven mandates and become a university that is both confident in its academic prowess and internal management, and a respected leader in contributing to a vibrant and economically sustainable region. The task force's findings and recommendations will broadly define the means by which Cal State East Bay will continue to progress toward its desired position as the region's high-access university of choice

Master Plans at Hayward and Concord Campuses

Cal State East Bay has also launched master planning processes for both the Concord and Hayward campuses that will guide decisions about capacity and physical design for years to come. Each campus plan will respond to the recommendations of the task force. Both campuses face some similar physical challenges, particularly those involving access and transportation. However, they vary in other ways that require different emphases. Concord is a small campus on a relatively remote but large piece of land in central Contra Costa County. Hayward is an urban campus in a densely populated area.

The master planning process at Concord focuses on issues such as:

  • the physical capacities and constraints of the site;
  • the potential for future growth; and
  • how the campus can best serve the emerging higher education needs in Contra Costa County.


In contrast, the Hayward master plan will focus on issues regarding redevelopment that include:

  • expanding student housing;
  • creating more student activities;
  • increasing instructional capacity; and
  • reconfiguring circulation and reshaping the physical identity of the campus.

The Hayward and Concord master plans will be guided by academic planning. The 18-month process will include public involvement, extensive analysis of the Hayward site, recommendations regarding land use, transportation, building locations, design guidelines, and an environmental impact report. The master plan is scheduled for completion in summer 2008. The master plan update and final environmental impact report will be presented for approval to the CSU Board of Trustees March 2009.

Let me emphasize that strategic academic planning commences a process that is like a marathon, not a sprint, requiring persistence, fortitude and determination. We will need to develop an appropriate pace that enables us to achieve our near-term, mid-term and long-term objectives. The strategic academic and master planning processes will furnish the benchmarks that will allow us to gauge our performance in reaching these milestones in our quest to build a position of increased respect within the CSU system and the region we serve.

WASC Re-accreditation

I would also like to take this opportunity to provide a brief update on what we have completed thus far to renew the university's accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). A site visit is scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Concord campus and Oct. 17 to 19 at the Hayward campus. These visits will result in a final decision regarding Cal State East Bay's re-accreditation.

In our Institutional Proposal submitted to WASC in 2003, we acknowledged the need to implement strategic planning and reorganize our budget process to provide greater transparency and fiscal stability. We have now taken steps to do so. The submission of the Educational Effectiveness Report-The Next 50 Years: New Standards for a New Era to WASC in July signals a new period of promise and fulfillment at Cal State East Bay. It is critical that all faculty and staff become familiar with the information in the report so that we can effectively articulate and demonstrate the educational effectiveness of our great university to our WASC visitors.

That report documents the results of several institutional studies in response to WASC recommendations. It addresses themes that include academic quality, student success, campus climate and strategic planning. The Academic Program staff and chapter authors responded with candor and determination to WASC recommendations. Important findings highlighted here include that:

  • educational effectiveness can be measured more fairly and accurately if based on learning outcomes;
  • freshman participating in integrated learning communities at Cal State East Bay show greater gains in writing and communication skills and achieve higher retention rates than their counterparts in other CSU schools;
  • multiculturalism is an important focus of the East Bay curriculum, and students take more multicultural courses than required;
  • there is evidence that graduation rates improve, when more timely, intensive and continuous advising is utilized: and
  • a campus wide survey indicated that a supportive social environment contributes to a perception of equal respect and dignity. But more work needs to be done to familiarize students and faculty with resources that they can tap into increase their level of comfort and sense of community.

The WASC re-accreditation process marks a turning point in Cal State East Bay's 50-year history. We are poised to take collective responsibility for our future growth by employing the strategic tools that will distinguish the university academically and gain it recognition as a dominant player in the region's economic success and social well being.

INVESTING IN THE BAY AREA'S WORKFORCE

Cal State East Bay should take pride in the success it has enjoyed in its endeavors to conduct strategic academic planning, improve its physical appearance, provide new facilities, increase enrollment and strengthen financial stability. But the university's influence extends well beyond its campuses at Hayward and Concord. By contributing to the region's workforce needs, the university directly affects the quality of our urban life.

We live in a world, a nation, and a region whose urban profiles are undergoing profound change. Let me cite some data that illustrates these trends most dramatically. In 1950, there were only two mega cities with more than 10 million people, namely New York City and Tokyo. According to the United Nations, by 2015 there will be 22 mega cities, 12 of which will have a population of more than 15 million. By 2008, more than half of the world's population will be urban dwellers. By 2030, 4.9 billion or 60 percent of us will call the city home. (1) One third of the U.S. population lives in nine metropolitan areas, including the San Francisco Bay Area (2)

Today we stand at the crossroads of the intersecting challenges of urban growth and economic sustainability. The pace of development and economic transformation has quickened and we no longer have the luxury of drifting with the tide of events that we must now harness to our advantage.

The quality of our urban existence here will increasingly depend on how effectively we and other metropolitan areas in California provide for

  • ample and appropriate energy supplies;
  • water supplies;
  • communication systems;
  • public and private transportation;
  • pollution controls;
  • the capability to respond to natural and manmade disasters,
  • affordable housing,
  • health care and
  • crime control (3)

Dealing with these and other problems will require ingenuity, resourcefulness and persistence, and, above all, education, knowledge and competence. California plays a dominant role in providing a highly educated workforce. California alone enrolls 13.6 percent of all college graduates in the U.S. (4). Importantly, 37 percent of Bay Area residents have at least a bachelor's degree, compared to 24 percent nationwide, and one in six has a graduate or professional degree. (5).

Clearly, the Bay Area has a highly skilled workforce. To sustain this workforce, the Bay Area has traditionally imported a significant number of college graduates from other states and abroad. However, given the restrictions of H-1-B visas and the high cost of living, the region faces challenges in meeting its increasing workforce needs. California businesses, particularly semiconductor and software companies, have relied increasingly on offshoring for design and product development, processes that require skilled labor that is in short supply here.(6)

The current trends indicate that higher education institutions will not be able to graduate significant numbers of graduates to fill the growing number of high skilled jobs in the region unless we pursue new and innovative ways to increase the number of college graduates. (7). These jobs require solid credentials in science, math, engineering, technology and the social sciences.

The California Council on Science and Technology estimated that 14,000 jobs requiring science and engineering degrees went unfilled in 2001 and the shortfall has steadily grown since then (8) We must find ways to respond to this serious workforce crisis head on by adopting integrated methods of strategic planning that link each educational institution in a supply chain of educational services that ultimately produces more appropriately skilled college graduates.

This fall, we will co-sponsor a number of forums with CEO's and industry leaders. We will engage members of the Bay Area Council, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance and the Tri Valley Business Council, as well as regional leaders in government, business and the non-profit sector. Two important objectives of these forums will be to identify competencies necessary for a successful workforce and integrate the results of these forums into the academic planning process.

Additionally, Cal State East Bay, the City of Hayward and the Hayward Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsoring an economic summit that will take place sometime in late winter or early spring 2008. As a regional high-access university dedicated to the concept of regional stewardship, Cal State East Bay stands ready to both listen to, and act on, the ideas proposed at this summit.

INTEGRATIVE LEARNING

As experts acknowledge, preparing our students for high skilled jobs today and tomorrow requires changes in our teaching methods. Accordingly, I urge our faculty to continue to transform our curriculum into one that promotes integrative learning for our students across the curriculum, over time and inside and outside of the classroom. We need to fully understand, embrace and implement the concept of integrative learning.

According to the American Association of Colleges and Universities and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, integrative learning requires connecting skills and knowledge from multiple sources, applying theory to practice in different settings, drawing on diverse and even contradictory views and understanding issues contextually (9).

Our freshmen are introduced to integrative learning and we must build on this foundation in the rest of their curriculum. Integrated learning involves the intentional use of teaching strategies aimed at synthesis of knowledge, drawing from both classroom and real world experiences. Supplementing our lecture-based courses with well-designed problem-oriented assignments challenges our students to pool their knowledge from multiple sources to forge integrated solutions. Integrated learning will more effectively equip our graduates to work in a world of ambiguity and uncertainty where problems are only loosely structured and require insight and creativity for successful solutions. I recognize that this pedagogy is not new to some faculty. However, we need to expand this practice across all programs.

CULTIVATING ENTREPREURSHIP

The Bay Area is truly the venture capital, capital of the world. The Bay Area and Silicon Valley is home to an unrivaled group of venture capitalists that together generate 35 percent of all venture capital in the United States. Silicon Valley also generates more than 10 percent of patents nationwide (10). This unique environment offers a strong incentive for students to get the skills they need to become entrepreneurs and create "start up" opportunities involving the Internet or information technologies, as well as other services yet to be imagined. Let's help our students take their futures into their own hands and acquire the independence and drive to create products and services that will not only fulfill individual needs but help solve the problems that threaten our future well being.

To help our students and the Bay Area region move forward we need to embrace the imperatives to innovate and foster entrepreneurship. Not only will our students become more confident risk takers, but they also will provide the highly skilled workforce that will continue to sustain the region's global competitive edge, producing the best products and services in the world.

ADOPTING A TRANSFORMATIVE APPROACH TO PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT

It has been estimated that 70 percent of the U. S. workforce is employed in service-related businesses (11). If this is true, it behooves Cal State East Bay to better understand the science of service institutions. This affects how the university organizes its curriculum and educates its students. The preparation of the WASC Educational Effectiveness Report provided the opportunity for our dedicated faculty to undertake a concerted effort to tackle the issues of organization and educational performance that affect our awareness of how well we provide our educational services. (12). This effort was instructive because it generated invaluable information not only about how teaching performance can be measured more directly and fairly, when learning outcomes are introduced. But it also dramatically demonstrated how campus climate and faculty morale directly affect our effectiveness as an educational institution.

The challenge we face in improving learning outcomes involves what organization expert Dean Spitzer characterized as a period in which we are transforming our standards of performance measurement (13). Among the four keys to transformation performance measurement Spitzer identifies, the first and foremost is social context. Faculty and staff must participate in the adoption of performance measures that are perceived as positive and constructive.

Second, together we must select measures that will highlight our distinctiveness and increase our competitive advantage with other nearby universities.

Third, the measures we choose need to be aligned with our strategic academic plan and integrated across the entire university.

Fourth, as the WASC experience attests, we need to sustain an ongoing dialogue about how best to implement, monitor and revise performance measures when conditions dictate change.

CONCLUSION

Our accomplishments, reported here, are worth remembering because they signal a new era at Cal State East Bay where the momentum for change has taken hold. We are an institution ready to prepare our students to enter a workforce that will reward those who seize the opportunities to creatively contribute to sustaining the Bay Area's economic success. In doing so, they will also contribute to the well being of the citizens of this great region who rely on dependable infrastructures and public goods each and every day.

We can look forward to the coming academic year with confidence and the conviction that our hard work will be repaid with continued success in all of our endeavors. I want to thank the faculty and staff for their thoughtfulness and commitment to our students who are learning and gaining experiences at Cal State East Bay that will last a lifetime.

  • © Copyright California State University, East Bay.

California State University, East Bay is the San Francisco East Bay Area's high-access public university of choice. CSUEB serves the region with campuses in Hayward and Concord, a professional development center in Oakland, and an innovative online campus. With an enrollment of more than 14,000, the University offers a nationally recognized freshman year experience, award-winning curriculum, personalized instruction, and expert faculty. Students choose from among more than 100 professionally focused fields of study for which the University confers bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as an Ed.D. in education. Named a "Best in the West" college, as well as a Best Business School, by the influential Princeton Review, Cal State East Bay is among the region's foremost producers of teachers, business professionals and entrepreneurs, public administrators, health professionals, literary and performing artists, and science and math graduates.

Learn more and connect with Cal State East Bay at CSUEB Social Media. For up-to-date news snapshots, visit the Inside CSUEB News Blog.

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