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Convocation 2017: Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present and Looking Forward

President Mildred García Kicks Off 2017-18 Academic Year
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Convocation 2017

This year, included among the annual gathering of new and veteran faculty, staff and administrators at President Mildred García’s sixth CSUF Convocation address, were dozens of “Founding Titans” — alumni, faculty and staff who joined the Titan family between 1957-69.   

“You are the gold standard, and we are proud to officially begin our yearlong Diamond Anniversary celebration by welcoming you back to campus!” said García.

After acknowledging the contributions of founding faculty members, she noted that the University’s first graduating class consisted of five graduates — three women and two men.

“Notice how, even back then, we were trailblazers. More than half of our first graduating class were women — all three of them!”           

She also took the opportunity to welcome 43 new faculty members to the University.     

García then focused on how the University is doing as it enters the final year of a five-year strategic plan, and how the campus is preparing for the next five-year plan that will be unveiled at next year’s convocation.

Goal One: Develop a curricular and co-curricular environment that prepares students for participation in a global society and is responsive to workforce needs.

Three years ago, the president promised that using the first goal, the University would develop CSUF’s first academic master plan. Today, this collaborative undertaking has been completed. “This plan will guide what we teach, who we teach, how we teach, who will do the teaching and how many will be taught. It will also be instrumental in the development of the new five-year strategic plan and the University’s self-study and institutional report for the WASC Senior College and University Commission reaccreditation visit in fall 2019,” García said.

The president also noted the following:

  • The College of the Arts recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Joseph A.W. Clayes III Performing Arts Center, a $48.5 million facility that serves as an intellectual and cultural hub of Orange County.
  • The College of Communications partnered with Univision to establish an Orange County news bureau, as well as its Contigo Community Outreach Program on campus. The partnership enhances curricular and co-curricular activities, as well as career training for bilingual Spanish speakers.
  • The College of Health and Human Development celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Center for Healthy Neighborhoods after serving more than 400 low-income families in its inaugural year.
  • Two professors in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Geoffrey Lovelace and Armando Martinez-Cruz, received prestigious national awards.
  • Mihaylo College of Business and Economics hosted an inaugural career fair featuring 50 companies that attracted more than 700 students.

Goal Two: Improve student persistence, increase graduation rates Universitywide, and narrow the achievement gap for underrepresented students

Goal Two will be driven by the California State University-mandated Graduation Initiative 2025 or GI 2025. García pointed out that CSUF met or exceeded many of the goals put forth in the 2009 incarnation of GI 2025, with amendments to the initiative for all 23 campuses. “In the parlance of academia, we were the ones in front of the class who threw off the curve,” she said.

Campuses are now being asked to push to increase four-year graduation rates. However, this new challenge tracks with the University’s aspiration to reach higher.

  • The College of Education expanded programs for K-12 students in Orange County. Providing summer and after-school programs for more than 2,000 students.
  • The College of Engineering and Computer Science received the Girl Scouts of Orange County President’s Award for inspiring more than 500 scouts to explore STEM careers.
  • In the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Sarah Hill took students in one of her classes to Sacramento to meet with assembly member and Titan alum Phillip Chen, on the floor of the California Assembly.
  • University Extended Education increased student participation in study abroad programs by 97 percent.
  • The Division of Student Affairs continued the growth of the Male Success Initiative that concentrates on empowering all men, especially men of color.
  • The Division of Information Technology expanded Wi-Fi coverage and completed upgrades of 40 classrooms with the latest in wireless teaching technology.
  • The Division of Administration and Finance expanded our campus with the opening of Titan Hall (previously the Western State College of Law). They also led the development of the campus physical master plan.

Goal 3: Recruit and retain a high-quality and diverse faculty and staff

The Division of Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion processed more than 3,000 applications that resulted in the 2017-18 tenure-track faculty class and hired 138 new staff members from a pool of 30,000 applicants.

Goal 4: Increase revenue through fundraising, entrepreneurial activities, grants and contracts

With budget allocations from the state decreasing, philanthropic support becomes even more critical. García said and pointed with pride to increases in grants and contracts, as well as fundraising.

This year, the Division of University Advancement saw a 20 percent increase in the number of gifts in the $10,000-$25,000 range. During the final fiscal year prior to the implementation of the strategic plan, CSUF received $8.5 million in total gift commitments. Since then, such efforts have increased gift commitments year by year; for the past two consecutive years, the University has received more than $20 million in gifts.

Additionally, the market value of the University’s endowment since 2012 nearly doubled from $34.3 million to more than $61 million today.

García also pointed out the role Athletics plays in building a philanthropic culture. Having winning teams helps. This past year, seven teams participated in the Big West Conference for the first time in the University’s history — baseball, softball, men’s basketball, women’s tennis, both men and women’s soccer, and men’s track and field, who, incidentally, won the Big West Championship for the first time. And who can forget that the Titan baseball team made it, for the 18th time, to the College World Series.

García concluded with CSUF’s successes in graduation rates. In 2012, the six-year graduation rate for freshmen was 51 percent and the goal was to achieve 60 percent in five years. Instead, the campus did it in three years. The preliminary numbers indicate that this graduation rate for first-time freshmen may reach 67 percent.

Four-year graduation rates in 2012 for first-time freshmen were 14 percent. Four years into the strategic plan, that number has increased to approximately 23 percent.

And then suddenly, music filled the air and, one-by-one, faculty and staff members began to step out of their rows and started singing the opening number of the musical, “Hamilton,” only the lyrics had been modified:

“We Are Cal State Fullerton”

Original lyrics by Erin McNally

How does a humble state school built on big dreams for a college,
Dropped in the middle of the perfect
Spot in Orange County by a freeway with a goal for education
In 60 years be first tier in the nation

The forty thousand students within our foster
Get a lot farther cuz WE work a lot harder
And we are a lot smarter
And sometimes we feel like a martyr
But today, we celebrate with our peers and partners

When I walk ‘cross the campus I think “ This place is insane, man!”
How do students navigate with phones up to their face, man?!
But all around you is diversity acclaimed!
And the world’s gonna know our name! What our name, man?

We are Cal State Fullerton
We’re working here at Cal State Fullerton
And there’s a million things we haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait

When I leave for my commute, on my route down State College
To Nutwood Avenue when will all of this construction be
Through? This traffic makes me sick . I’m done with it.

The parking structure’s big but the spaces go quick

Oh God I have so much left to do
My syllabus is fine
But shouldn’t I add more guest lectures
To my class outline
Gotta schedule office hours, give my welcome speech a tweak
Cuz the students will arrive in one more week

The students arrive in one more week/Just you wait
The students arrive in one more week/Just you wait
The students arrive in one more week
Let’s reach higher!
Just you wait!

Here at Cal State Fullerton/Here at Cal State Fullerton
Titanium is here for you/University Portal, too
But if you go to Starbucks
better plan to wait in line! Oh!/Better plan to wait in line! Oh!
Here at Cal State Fullerton/Here at Cal State Fullerton
We’re a leading CSU!/We have Titan Pride, we do!
Diversity is our aim
Tusks up when we’re at the game
We all reach higher every day! Oh!/We all reach higher every day! Oh!

Our diamond anniversary, 60 years to present/Just you wait!
Let’s help our students grow from now until commencement/Just you wait!

We will teach to them

Me? I’ll plan for them

Me? I’ll hire them

Me? I’ll help them

And me? I’m the President who’ll lead ‘em.

There’s a million things we haven’t done. But just you wait!

Who are we, friends?!

We are Cal State Fullerton!