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Town Hall: Planning for the University’s Next Five Years

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Hundreds of faculty, staff and students gathered today to begin the planning process for Cal State Fullerton’s next five-year strategic plan (2018-23).

As Cal State Fullerton completes the goals of its first five-year strategic plan, the campus community can reflect on some of its accomplishments: 

  • 30 percent improvement in six-year graduation rates for first-time freshmen
  • 61 percent improvement in four-year graduation rates for first-time freshmen
  • Elimination of the achievement gap for transfer students
  • Cutting the achievement gap in half for first-time freshmen
  • A near tripling of annual total new gift commitments
  • A 25 percent increase in overall grant and contracts revenue generated
  • Hiring 250 tenure-track faculty members

“What this campus has is momentum,” said CSUF President Fram Virjee. “All systems are go. We cannot have an extended pause at this critical time.”

When Virjee was appointed president, CSU Chancellor Timothy White made it clear that he wanted the campus to continue to take advantage of the strides that had been made.

“What you did with the last five-year plan was amazing, but now it’s time for a new plan,” Virjee said. “I am not a place holder. I am here to support the continuing momentum.”

He then referenced the book “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” a story narrated by a dog. “Because the dog’s owner is a race car driver, the dog knows about racing, too,” Virjee explained. “One of the points race drivers make is that when you’re making a turn in the rain, it’s natural to put on the brakes. However, experienced drivers know that to make the turn more quickly, you accelerate a little — racing through the curve.

“Cal State Fullerton’s timing is perfect. We have the upcoming WASC accreditation. They will see our intentionality. We will continue our work on Graduation Initiative 2025. We have collaborative energy, shared governance, and we are building a consensus. It’s fine to take a victory lap after all your hard work, but as we go into the final turn, remember: don’t put your foot on the brake.

“For me, it is an honor to be a part of this. Thank you … now let’s get to work!”

The remainder of the afternoon was spent with attendees working in groups of eight to 10 people, prioritizing campus goals and providing insight into why they selected five of the 38 goals as their top priorities.

Teshia Roby, associate dean for the College of Education, found the town hall meeting to be an important approach to help “bubble up campus priorities.”

“We got to hear perspectives other than our own,” she said. “It wasn’t so much a consensus, but all of us bringing our perspectives to the table and making decisions based on what was best for the campus.”

Roby would like to see a continued emphasis being placed on student success and the elimination of opportunity gaps. “I like that the focus is not on the decrease of opportunity gaps, but on their elimination. That says something about our commitment to our students and our underrepresented students, and I’d like to see that continue to be one of the accepted focal points for the strategic plan.”