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Athletic Director Reflects on Past Year, Looks Ahead

July 24, 2014

man in business suit, wearing a baseball hat and speaking at a podium.

Jim Donovan

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A little more than a year ago, Jim Donovan arrived as the new athletic director at Cal State Fullerton. During that time, many changes have taken place and new initiatives have been developed for the athletics program.

What are some of the major changes that have taken place since your arrival?

For starters, we have several new head coaches: men and women's basketball, men's soccer and women's tennis. We have filled out our development staff to assist in our fundraising efforts, and, with the passage of the Student Success Initiative, we can continue to advance our goals. In the upcoming year, we'll be focusing on administration, staff and the sports teams. We had ambitious academic and revenue goals last year and we met them. Going into the next academic year, we'll be working on meeting new, even higher goals.

What will the money from the Student Success Initiative do?

Phased in over the next three years, by the end of the third year, each student will contribute about $110 per year that will be used to improve the Titan athletic program. With a student body of 37,000-plus, that translates into about $4 million annually. This will help us develop our sports programs and improve our facilities.

Our facilities will undergo a major lighting project, particularly for the grass fields used by students, classes and clubs. In the next few years, we're looking at a new video board for Titan Stadium, refurbishing the Titan Gym, along with other improvement projects.

For Division I athletics, fundraising is critical. For example, for the past five years, Paul Folino "led the charge" to provide funding for our men and women's golf programs through the Folino Invitational Golf Tournament. The goal was to help set up the programs and after five years, the university would take over these expenses. And with SSI funds, we'll be able to meet that goal. Also, our tennis and track/cross country programs are substantially underfunded on scholarships, so we will use some additional funding there.

The funds from SSI, as well as private donations, will go a long way toward making these improvements.

When you first arrived, you spoke of the "Top 10 Musts" in customer service. How is that working?

We've seen a marked improvement with customer service with the Top 10 Musts in Customer Service. When you want to improve customer service, there really needs to be a culture change and that's what happened. The staff takes pride in the service they provide. Many people have told me that they're very impressed with the customer service orientation they're seeing. So, it appears to have been effective.

What is your assessment of the impact of these changes to date?

I think we're seeing very positive progress in many areas and we know where we need to focus our energies in other areas. When you're seeking national recognition for the work you do, you have to look at all areas: Culture, operations, facilities, win/loss ratios ....

Where do you hope this will lead?

Of course, we want our teams to win. But we also want our student athletes to have a great experience, excel and ultimately, graduate. We want our campus community to support our athletes and our programs. We want to expand our reach to the neighboring community. We want to provide the highest levels of customer service, raise more funds, improve our facilities, offer more scholarships and ensure the success of our athletics programs for years to come. We've made great progress over the past year and we're certainly moving in the right direction.

Tags:  AthleticsCampus Updates