President sees greatest achievements for Fresno State in near future

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President sees greatest achievements for Fresno State in near future

President John D. Welty welcomed the faculty to the 2005 fall semester today (Aug. 17) with optimism that California State University, Fresno can anticipate some of its greatest achievements over the next few years.

Speaking at the fall Academic Assembly, Welty said he believes Fresno State can become “one of the nation’s best engaged universities – recognized for our ability to engage a diverse group of students in learning and for the ability to become actively involved in a region and contribute to its transformation.”

In recent years the university has evolved from an institution that sought to interact with this region to one that has become fully engaged in our region, Welty said. Looking ahead to Fresno State’s Centennial in 2011, Welty suggests the university focus on five themes that highlight its distinctiveness. He said the university is:

Helping to create a healthier Valley. Fresno State already produces the majority of the medical and social service professionals in the region and is working to expand the nursing program so that more top students can pursue careers in nursing and other related health care professions. Planning has begun for joint doctoral programs in nursing and physical therapy. Faculty and students are conducting pioneering research to understand and address the special health problems of Central California.

Advancing world class agriculture. Noting that a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out that food production must be doubled by 2025, Welty said Fresno State is finding the answers as it works to sustain California agriculture and pioneers ways to increase production while protecting the environment. Of note: Fresno State will become home to one of the most innovative food institutes in the country with the creation of the Institute of Food and Nutrition Innovation. The institute will study issues of food safety, packaging and the development of new food products. It will evaluate farm and ranch technology with a view toward improving overall food quality, taste and nutritional value.

Transforming the economy of Central California by helping to create new businesses and new jobs. The university is leveraging its nationally recognized expertise to fuel Central California’s economy. Entrepreneur Magazine ranks Fresno State’s expertise in new business creation and entrepreneurship as the eighth best in the entire United States. For perspective – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is ranked seventh and other campuses in the Top 10 along with Fresno State are Boston College, the University of Arizona and SMU. Also, the faculty in engineering and business have developed a plan for an advanced manufacturing center which is another key program that must be in place to help in the region’s transformation.

Treasuring the arts and culture of the New California, as evidenced by the recent successful CSU Summer Arts Program and the university’s inspiration for a new generation of writers, artists, musicians and designers. Fresno State treasures the art, music, literature and traditions that embody the genius, spirit and aspirations of the people who call Central California home.

Preparing those who are teaching our children. With nearly a century of experience in preparing teachers for the classroom, Fresno State has a curriculum that covers everything from teaching preschool to a doctoral program in educational leadership. The faculty has already helped struggling schools resolve chronic budget problems, deal with violence and promote family involvement. We’re engaged in solving key problems faced by Central California students – a lack of educational opportunities, poor reading skills and a high drop-out rate. We’re also preparing the educational leaders this region needs through The Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute.

Welty also outlined several changes that have occurred in recent years which are prompting a process to update the university’s strategic plan.

One of the changes is that the region will add a new capability as the University of California, Merced opens this fall. This presents new opportunities for collaboration and also will generate some competition for students and private support, he said, adding, “The Bulldogs are ready to take on the Bobcats!”

Another change is Fresno State’s intercollegiate athletics program, which has entered the national stage. “Unfortunately,” Welty said, “mistakes have been made which have had a negative impact on our university. We must take steps to restore the integrity of the program and become a leader in student athlete academic performance as well as on the field performance.”

On the construction front, Welty noted that a “remarkable transformation” continues on the campus with $150 million in new buildings. The new Science II Building and the Downing Planetarium Museum were completed earlier this year and the West Complex/Student

Recreation Center will be ready for use early next year. In addition to a fitness and recreation focus, it also will house important community conference and educational facilities including the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and The Leon and Pete Peters Educational Center.

Soon Fresno State will begin a massive $91 million renovation of the Henry Madden Library. The entire front wing of the Madden Library will be demolished and rebuilt into what will be one of the finest and most modern university libraries in California, Welty said. “This expansion will enable us to provide the latest computer technologies, offer easier access to our rare and historical materials, and provide much improved areas for our students and faculty to study, conduct research and meet,” he said.

The full text of Welty’s speech is available below. ———————

Faculty Assembly Speech

Dr. John D. Welty, President

California State University, Fresno

August 17, 2005

Welcome back to a new academic year at California State University, Fresno. It’s been a great summer as we have been able to make progress on many important issues. After fourteen years of promising, it is my pleasure to report to you that the San Ramon’s are gone!

One of the special events that I am able to participate in over the summer is “Dog Days”…a series of excellent orientation sessions organized by Dr. Oliaro’s staff for our newest students and their parents. I always look forward to the opportunity to meet with freshmen and transfer students and their parents. There always are incredible stories of determination, sacrifice and hard work. It’s interesting to talk to students to hear their dreams for the future and how they look forward to learning and growing at Fresno State.

This year it struck me that there are many parallels between the experience of our new students and those who make this great university work.

There is a time in the life of every individual and institution when you reach a level of maturity and begin to realize what your capabilities are. Our new students are doing that. Our university is doing that as well. And like our new freshmen who will begin a path of personal growth and accomplishment, so too will Fresno State attain, over the next few years, some of our greatest achievements.

We’re making decisions today that will forever affect Fresno State. I can’t imagine a more exhilarating time to be a student, a member of our faculty or staff, or a friend of this great university.

Several years ago we set off on a course to become recognized as a premier regional interactive University. During the past few years we have undertaken many activities to achieve that vision and I am happy to report to you that we have succeeded.

It is now time for us to pause this year and update our strategic plan for the future as we head to our centennial celebration in the year 2011.I will discuss how we will accomplish that task in a few minutes. However, let me describe to you what I believe we are capable of attaining in the coming years.

I suggest to you that we can become one of the nation’s best engaged Universities…recognized for our ability to engage a diverse group of students in learning and for the ability to become actively involved in a region and contribute to its transformation.

Fresno State has never been more ENGAGED in fulfilling its academic potential than today. Our faculty is advancing the academic reputation and distinctiveness of our university every day. And the success we’re seeing points to much more that we can achieve in the future.

As we look ahead to our centennial I suggest that we focus on five themes that highlight the distinctiveness of California State University, Fresno:

First…We’re engaged in helping to create a healthier Valley. Fresno State already produces the majority of the medical and social service professionals in the region. We’re working hard to expand our nursing program so that more top students can pursue careers in nursing and other related health care professions. We have begun planning for joint doctoral programs in nursing and physical therapy. We are conducting pioneering research to understand and address the special health problems of Central California. We have the research firepower and the community linkages in place to help guide doctors and other health professionals as they grapple with regional health issues.

We’re engaged in advancing World Class agriculture. Today’s farmer worries about economic survival and maintaining the viability of California agriculture in the world marketplace. A recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out that food production must be doubled by 2025. Fresno State is finding the answers as it works to sustain California agriculture and pioneers ways to increase production while protecting the environment. Our viticulture and enology program is spurring a renaissance in Central California’s wine industry. Our ag and engineering research in irrigation has established the campus as a world leader in water system design and conservation.

We will underscore our pioneering work in agriculture with the creation of the Institute of Food and Nutrition Innovation. Fresno State will become home to one of the most innovative food institutes in the country.

The new Food Institute will study issues of food safety, packaging and the development of new food products. It will evaluate farm and ranch technology with a view toward improving overall food quality, taste and nutritional value.

Fresno State’s faculty and students in agriculture will continue to have a huge impact across the country and internationally.

We’re engaged in transforming the economy of Central California…we’re helping to create new businesses and new jobs. The university is leveraging its nationally recognized expertise in entrepreneurship and new business formation to fuel Central California’s economy.

Entrepreneur Magazine ranks Fresno State’s expertise in new business creation and entrepreneurship as the eighth best in the entire United States. Let’s put that in perspective – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is ranked seventh. Other campuses in the top ten along with Fresno State are Boston College, the University of Arizona, and SMU. When it comes to business, Fresno State is running in some pretty fast company. Thanks to the faculty and staff of the Craig School of Business for leading the way…Fresno State is making a difference throughout Central California.

Our faculty in engineering and business have developed a plan for an advanced manufacturing center which is another key program that must be in place to help in the region’s transformation.

And this past month’s CSU Summer Arts Program is only the latest reminder of the contribution Fresno State makes in treasuring the arts and culture of the New California. This university is inspiring a new generation of writers, artists, musicians and designers. People have come to Central California from all over the world seeking new opportunities and a new life. Fresno State treasures the art, music, literature and traditions that embody the genius, spirit and aspirations of the people who call Central California home.

We have great tradition in the field of education…preparing those who are teaching our children. With nearly a century of experience in preparing teachers for the classroom, Fresno State has one of only seven “named” schools of education in the country. Our curriculum covers everything from teaching pre-school to our doctoral program in educational leadership.

Fresno State’s faculty has already helped struggling schools resolve chronic budget problems, deal with violence, and promote family involvement. We’re engaged in solving key problems faced by Central California students—a lack of educational opportunities, poor reading skills, and a high drop-out rate. There has never been a time when the skills of our faculty in education and counseling have been more needed.

We’re preparing the educational leaders this region needs. The Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute is helping school districts create cultures of high achievement for students. These is a huge undertaking as educational leaders train, coach, and advise the 150 school districts served by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. Our Institute is providing a needed academic framework for real educational progress in Central California.

Fresno State is a distinctive campus. Our hallmark programs…the themes I’ve outlined today…are of vital importance to our region, the state and the nation.

Our hard work here on campus and throughout Central California is paying off. Fresno State now offers one of the largest and most diverse offerings of service-learning classes of any University. Last year alone 130 service-learning classes were offered by 24 different academic departments. These classes, which have intentional service and learning goals, engaged nearly 3,500 students in over 67,000 hours of service directly related to their academic coursework. Overall, 4,000 of our students volunteered 171,000 hours of service in a variety of settings throughout the region, providing a total economic impact of $3.86 million.

Ralph A. Wolff, executive director of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, commended our students and faculty in our recent re-accreditation for their involvement in the community. To quote Dr. Wolff: “…the university’s community and regional engagement is exemplary in an environment where students love their institution and believe that they are getting a fine education.”

The accrediting team reported that Fresno State’s “administration, faculty, staff, and students have a deep understanding that its teaching, civic engagement, and co-curricular activities are focused on the improvement of the campus and surrounding communities.”

We have connected with our region in a very special way. Consider the good work of The Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Central California Health Policy Institute, the Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute, and the California Agricultural Technology Institute, to name just a few.

Our efforts are paying off. For the first time foundations are investing in Central California. Unemployment rates are among the lowest in our history. The Regional Jobs Initiative, an effort we are supporting, just reported that we’re already a quarter of the way to our goal of creating 30,000 new jobs in key industries in the Fresno area by 2009. New attention is being paid to this area known as the New California.

We are now preparing for a new look at the university’s strategic plan. Provost Echeverria will be initiating discussion on an academic action plan…focused on our strengths. We’ve learned much about the direction we need to take as the result of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation review, our comprehensive campaign planning and marketing plans for the campus. All of this leads to an overarching plan for the future for this campus. We will sharpen understanding of our core values with the campus community, our supporters and the community at large.

This fall I will work with the University’s strategic planning steering committee to develop a process to formally update our strategic plan. We will schedule times for everyone on campus to respond to several major documents that will guide our planning efforts. Provost Echeverria will outline the plan for receiving feedback on the draft academic plan in a few minutes. We will also review carefully the feedback received through our WASC process this past year. In addition, we will review efforts undertaken to update our technology plan, review the athletics strategic plan and review the recommendations of the international programs task force and discuss several other relevant documents.

After undertaking this effort in the fall, the strategic planning committee will develop draft revisions to our plan for presentation to the University community in mid-spring semester. We will take time to ask for your feedback and comments before developing the final document for presentation to the academic senate for their endorsement. I urge you to get involved in this effort as we start our journey to our centennial celebration.

As we begin this process I believe it is important that we recognize several key changes which have occurred since we prepared our last plan.

First, as I mentioned, we have evolved from a University that sought to interact with this region to one that has become fully engaged in our region.

The region will add a new capability as the University of California, Merced opens this fall. This presents new opportunities for collaboration and also will generate some competition for students and private support. The Bulldogs are ready to take on the Bobcats!

It is highly likely that the legislature and Governor will approve legislation that authorizes CSU campuses to grant independent education doctorates and there will be renewed emphasis on joint doctoral programs in areas such as physical therapy.

Our Board is placing increased emphasis on the importance of students completing their degrees in a timely manner. We are already among the CSU leaders in this area, but we must improve.

We must improve the abilities of students who come to us. This requires renewed efforts in collaborating with K-12 districts in our region.

The world has changed dramatically. Author Thomas Friedman points out that the world has become flat…meaning that our world is inextricably linked in ways that cut across national boundaries. Our engagement with our region must recognize that we must engage with the world in specific areas if we are going to be successful.

We have advanced our capacity in terms of technology available to us. We must now take steps to allow us to make the learning experience more effective for our students and to utilize technology to serve our region.

Our intercollegiate athletics program has grown dramatically and entered the national stage. Unfortunately, mistakes have been made which have had a negative impact on our University. We must take steps to restore the integrity of the program and become a leader in student athlete academic performance as well as on the field performance.

Fresno State was one of only four public universities selected in the United States to participate in a pilot project to improve regional economic and community living conditions. The project, Making Place Matter, is supported by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Alliance for Regional Stewardship. That project…which is nearly complete…takes an intensive look at stewardship opportunities and barriers. Fresno State was selected because of our readiness, commitment to serve the region, and our potential to be a model for other institutions across the country.

For the first time in Fresno State history, three faculty members have won the prestigious Fulbright Senior Specialist award in a single year. They include business professor Dr. William Mallios, health science professor Dr. Miguel Perez and assistant professor of music, Dr. Benjamin Boone. Congratulations to these three outstanding members of our faculty. In addition, Glenn Gray was named a Fulbright Scholar. Congratulations to him as well.

The student success task force has also sparked major improvements. We’ve put in place a very helpful orientation for new students. We’re creating learning communities, improving advising, and encouraging faculty mentoring. We’ve simplified the academic process for students by creating “Road Maps to Graduation.” And….imagine this…we met personally with students to learn, from their perspective, what works at the university…and what doesn’t work. These comprehensive efforts to engage students will build a sense of community, and enhance the Fresno State experience. That means more students will remain in college, succeed and graduate.

We’ve been able to accomplish a great deal these past few years despite tight budgets…but even that is beginning to change. The state budget agreement this summer between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature fully funds the compact for higher education. As a result, Fresno State will be able to fund enrollment growth of 2 ½ percent and realize a three percent increase to our base budget. That also means for the first time in three years, subject to collective bargaining agreements, all of you will receive a much deserved pay increase.

This past year was marked with several problems related to athletics… I want to stress that we will have greater integration of athletics with the entire university community, maintain compliance with NCAA rules and hold our coaches and student athletes to the highest standards. I am very pleased with the selection of Thomas Boeh as Director of Athletics. There have also been several other key appointments that will make a difference. I will work with Senate Chair Mike Botwin to assure that we take steps to restore the pride in the program by our University community as well as the larger community.

There is a remarkable transformation underway on our campus. We’re in the midst of $150 million in new construction, with the handsome new Science Building and the Downing planetarium museum completed earlier this year.

Soon Fresno State will begin a massive $91 million renovation of the Henry Madden Library. The entire front wing of the Madden Library will be demolished and rebuilt into, what I can promise you, will be one of the finest and most modern university libraries in California. This expansion will enable us to provide the latest computer technologies, offer easier access to our rare and historical materials, and provide much improved areas for our students and faculty to study, conduct research and meet.

The library is the academic temple of knowledge and the heart of any great university. It’s where much of the scholarly work happens for university students and faculty. The new library will underscore the excellence of the overall academic enterprise at Fresno State.

The construction of the new library is going to require patience and flexibility. Rising construction costs are forcing us to make some tough choices. I’m confident the library transition plan allows access to campus collections with a minimal waiting time for delivery of the requested books and materials. The campus is getting prepared and is anticipating and planning for the noise, digging and inconveniences that will come with the demolition of the old library and the construction of the new library…but the result is going to be well worth it.

Dean Gorman is going to have a memorable year…not only bringing Fresno State’s new library into existence, but also leading the entire nation’s libraries as president of the American Library Association. The library association has a membership of more than 66,000 librarians, library trustees and library supporters. Its mission is to promote at a national level the highest quality library and information services and public access to information. Michael, please stand and be recognized for this great honor.

I know many of you have noticed the “West Complex” building going up next to the Save Mart Center on Shaw. That huge new building will add to our campus one of the finest student recreation centers at any university on the West Coast. It also will house important community conference and educational facilities including the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and The Leon and Pete Peters Educational Center. The West Complex will be available for students early in 2006.

The Technology Infrastructure

[TII] project continues this year with the outside construction nearly complete and we’ll commence the Phase II design and planning for high speed networking and equipment across the campus.

There’s more good work underway as we begin the important next steps for the university’s comprehensive campaign. This fall we will announce the creation of the Campaign Steering Committee, a group of influential friends of the university from across the country who will guide the campaign as it proceeds. We are working with the deans and our development staff to expand our base of prospective donors, both in numbers and geography. We’re recruiting volunteers, refining our “case statement” for prospective donors, and tapping into the expertise of the prominent Fresno state alumni and friends who serve on the new National Board of Visitors.

Our planning is already beginning to pay off. We soon will be announcing two major gifts of a million dollars or more to support the academic programs of the university. These gifts will provide a fully funded chair and an endowment for scholarships.

With the combination of exceptional students, engaged faculty and the many exciting developments taking place on campus, there is no doubt that our university is on the right path to achieving a highly recognized national and international academic presence.

Our students, from all backgrounds, have found Fresno State to be a place of opportunity… a place where the greatest dreams can be achieved.

We are growing at Fresno State, but…don’t just look at the new buildings going up…look at the heart of the place. Our students…our faculty…and the incredible things they achieve. Fresno State is where it is today because of you. I appreciate your support as we continue to fulfill the vision of growing great futures for all our students at Fresno State.

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