Fall Address to the Faculty and Staff
August 23, 1999
SJSU: The Metropolitan University Beyond 2000
Welcome back to a new semester and academic year.
Approximately 4 years ago, in my inaugural address, I painted a dream for all of us, a dream of what San José State University could do and could become. That address was entitled "Dream no Small Dream," taken from a statement by the well-known Chicago architect David Burnham. During my first two months on campus, involving hundreds of conversations with many of you and others in our extended family, I learned that the prevailing attitude was that the university was in need of a big dream, a dream with magic, a dream that could stir one s soul. Thus, in that October address, I asked us to look at the institution in the years ahead from various perspectives: institutional, faculty, student and community. And as a campus we held retreats, round tables, and innumerable meetings to develop four primary themes on which to focus our energies and build to our desired future: enrollment management, student success, campus climate and information resources/technology. The Metropolitan University concept provided the umbrella that unified the elements of our mission; a mission that embraces our role as an active partner in the community of which we are a crucial part.
Four years have elapsed and we have passed many milestones and achieved many goals. I therefore want to use this Fall s welcoming address to look at how far we have come in painting that dream and where we have to go. Let me provide both a brief update on the progress we have made, as well as our plans for ongoing effort in each of the theme areas. I know you may be a bit worn out, frazzled from all that we have been through together, but you should be pleased with what we have accomplished; together we have come a very long way. We are gaining momentum as we evolve into the Metropolitan University of this Valley, with each one of us playing a valuable part in that evolution. Our role in Silicon Valley and the importance of it, and of San José State as a willing and able partner is now widely recognized, accepted and championed across the state from our own campus, to the city, to the Valley, to Sacramento and Long Beach, and, often state-wide and nationally.
To keep the lines of communication open, we have again provided detailed updates on the theme areas in the form of the SJSU Template, which was last published two years ago. We will continue to update this report on a biannual basis and provide it to all members of our communities, both on and off campus. Rather than repeat the contents of that report, which will soon be distributed, let me focus on a few "key" anecdotes that give a flavor of the role and impact we, as an institution, are having.
Obviously the most ambitious of our partnerships is the new "UniverCity" Library, the jointly owned and operated facility we will be building over the next 4 years. This $171 Million dollar, 500,000 square foot project is an amazing architectural venture, but more importantly to us, it is an exciting educational venture. As we plan and construct a new research and educational model for our campus, we will be shaping a new model for the nation. This facility will serve as our educational core as we plan the future of SJSU into the new millennium. I expect it to be, and I know you will agree, first and foremost an excellent academic library, a library that reinforces and supports our belief that undergraduate and graduate education are both important, and that a solid arts and sciences base to that education is what serves society and our students best. The UniverCity Library will also serve as the core educational resource for our entire community, the community beyond what once were the walls of our campus. The walls are gone, and this library is symbolic of that interchange, amalgamation, and integration of the modern urban university and its surroundings. We have the location that other universities would love to have. We cannot squander that good fortune by fear, cynicism or indifference. What a wonderful opportunity for us to help create and lead!
The UniverCity Library is part of a major redevelopment of our campus and the continued redevelopment of our surrounding community. Both are needed and are essential to our successful future. Over the next several years we will see the new UniverCity Library, a new city hall, a new civic center, a new symphony hall and opera house, a new elementary school, 3-4 new parking garages, and light rail coming up San Fernando to 7th Street. We will be in the middle of this transformation, literally and figuratively, as we should be, and in that role, will help to lead it in directions that work for our institution. Our relationships with the city, the symphony, the opera and the San José Unified School District are already strong but will continue to be strengthened further as we grow together.
Now, I want to share with you briefly a few additional related examples of recent successful manifestations of our Metropolitan University role and mission:
Through the Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC), originally funded by a $400,000 HUD grant and matching support from SJSU and private industry, our faculty and staff, with our students, are facilitating a wide range of neighborhood improvements in the 360 blocks surrounding the campus. The funding base has now been broadened from a variety of external sources and the initiative continues to grow and flourish.
The SJSU Foundation supports three business incubators located in downtown San José: for new software, environmental and international businesses. Working with the Foundation and the Colleges/Schools, we hope to continue to mature these relationships, focused on technology transfer, for both the educational/research as well as financial interests of the university.
SJSU s Police Chief chairs the South of Campus Task Force, which brings together the university, city and neighborhood organizations to address concerns and provide "voice" for the south campus area. SJSU is also a partner in both the City s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan to improve neighborhoods near the university and Project Crackdown, a crime-fighting and prevention campaign.
Our Provost with the Dean of Education and key faculty from that College, have led the establishment of the Metropolitan San José Collaborative for Academic Excellence, designed to improve student achievement from K-18. They also are involved in numerous partnerships with area schools and agencies. These partnerships have, this summer, resulted in a $200,000 renewable federal "Teacher Quality, Recruitment, and Preparation Grant, and a U. S. Department of Education "Gear Up" grant for $738,000, to work with 7th graders in the San José Unified School District. We also have a broad based and growing partnership with our neighbor, the National Hispanic University.
Our nursing faculty, through their Nurse Managed Centers, bring good health care to area neighborhoods; our Colleges of Business and Engineering bring much needed customized programs to local business (e.g. the newly established MBA/MEE with Cisco), and we are major participants in the South Bay Recycling Plan, The Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group Housing Consortium, and Save the Air Day Efforts locally.
Our partnerships are broadening and they are deepening. As the Metropolitan University of this region, we are a core resource and we are playing that role in all facets of life in our community.
In my inaugural address I also included a quotation from Clark Kerr about change: "The test of a modern American University is how wisely and how quickly it adjusts to important new possibilities." I asked us to recognize the challenge of that criterion and to accept and address the change that is upon us. But I also know we want to do so in a way that allows us to continue to embrace those values that provide the foundation of this institution and our educational heritage. Higher education has enormous challenges to confront and they are ours to help solve: problems of the K-18 sector (not the least of which is the need for the state to produce 250,000-300,000 new teachers over the next six years); demands and expectations to remain accessible and affordable (particularly in light of the demand for enrollment space that is coming, coupled with the significant increases in cost we are experiencing, and the limited growth in state support that is likely or possible); the erosion of standards that must be turned around; the increased need for new technology in all that we do, and the rapid development of that technology; the changing demographics of California and the unique challenges that poses. Throughout all of this, it is our responsibility to maintain quality and excellence. If we are to succeed, we must remain agile and be willing to change and evolve, to perhaps find new ways to do much of what we do. That also means we can t be everything to everybody. For example, we went through an excruciating but necessary process to eliminate programs we couldn t afford to support, in order to pinpoint those we felt compelled to enhance. We did a fine job others are now emulating us and that gave us the chance to set some much-needed priorities.
Furthermore, first generation college students must continue to know that they can come through our doors and find the programs they need, the education that they must have. And they need to know they can afford to come, regardless of their socioeconomic status or background. They need to have the preparation that will allow them to be successful at SJSU, and that means they will have had to have teachers and schools that provide them with the tools to achieve those outcomes teachers we will provide and keep timely, and schools that we will help develop and nurture. Their education, at all levels, will have to be of appropriate quality and with appropriate standards, before they come in our doors and once they have arrived. Such is the challenge of the Metropolitan University, the challenge of SJSU.
In the past we have been the bridge for such notables as Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Mayor Lee Brown (Houston), Assemblyman Mike Honda, Valerie Coleman Morris (CNN Financial News), many Fortune 400 CEOs (e.g.Don Beall/North American Rockwell; Jerry Choate/Allstate Insurance; Bob Frankenberg/Novell and Encanto; Peter Uberroth/Contrarian Group, Former Commissioner of Baseball), former Undersecretary of Health and Human Services Fernando Torres Gil, and so many others. Our alumni foreshadow our future graduates. This past year:
Music student Jeff Meyers was one of eight young composers nationwide to receive a Broadcast Music Student Composer Award;
Radio-TV journalism major Kiet Do placed first in the nation in the prestigious William Randolph Hearst Foundation Journalism Awards television competition;
A team of seven SJSU students took first place in the Business Simulation Competition, beating 31 teams from across the US, Canada and Mexico; and,
Fifteen students from our technology programs earned a first place in the University Manufacturing Engineering Challenge in Los Angeles.
These outstanding students raise the bar for all of our students. And we all have a stake in helping every student achieve his or her "dream." As a public university, society expects and deserves that from us. And the call for more accountability that we hear daily is an expression of that need and the perception that we are failing in that mission for many. Tomorrow is our first ever "Welcoming Convocation." All faculty and staff are invited to meet our new freshmen and their parents at 9:00 a.m. in the Event Center. We hope the event will begin a long tradition on the campus. It is designed to get our freshmen off to a successful start, and we all have a responsibility in that process.
We have done much to prepare for what is before us and to garner the strength, resources and partners to ensure our success. We will continue to build our endowment at a record pace and obtain grants/contracts and generate the non-state support that is ever-more crucial to our financing. Earlier this month we received the prestigious 1999 "Circle of Excellence Award in Overall Fundraising Performance (in the Public Comprehensive University Category) from a national panel of judges of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Many of us already spend a good deal of time raising funds, but we all can play a part in creating new funds for and linking new friends to the university.
While we do face challenges, we also have much in terms of unique opportunity before us: we are in the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the wealthiest locales on the face of the earth, a region Sun s Scott McNealy has labeled "ground zero" for the 21st century. We need to recognize where we are, because it is central to who we are.
We already are dealing with the complexity and opportunities of the fact that our student population has no ethnic or racial majority. We are also an institution that has a good understanding of itself and its role. Coupled with our unique location, that history/tradition and role have allowed us to attract and retain a top notch faculty and staff a faculty and staff that have as their primary focus excellence and quality in all that we do and a concomitant commitment to our mission and most importantly to our students.
So, where do we go from here? What do we do tomorrow?
First, we should take a deep breath and congratulate and thank one another for the enormous and important strides we have made these several years! Let s not forget to develop our sense of community as we go about our work. Our "bottom line" is not measured in dollars, but in the extent to which we provide our graduates with the ability to maximize their humanity and their unique abilities. That goes for all of our co-workers as well. We need to continue to make faculty and staff professional development one of our top priorities.
Then, we must continue to develop as the Metropolitan University for this region. We must refine and hone our mission of being a regional partner and leader. We must all continue to play our respective roles: in the classroom, in the community and the neighborhoods, in the libraries, business and government offices, arts institutions, clinics, and hospitals wherever we are needed.
We must continue to strive for quality and excellence in all that we do. That requires excellent and committed faculty and staff, which we have, but we must also hire and prepare the next generation of SJSU faculty and staff. Our faculty roles and rewards efforts must be flexible and align with the role of the Metropolitan University. Similarly, any pay-for-performance program must have that same flexibility and focus. Our non-faculty initiatives to improve service and performance are just as important, and often more public, and are a necessary ingredient in the mix we need for success.
We must lead the change that is before us, not let change drive us. Adapting to new demands has always been a part of the academy, but the pace and complexity of those changes and demands today are unprecedented. We cannot sit back and bemoan the change we must embrace it and look for the opportunities it provides.
We must do better at leveraging our location and continue not only to give to this Valley but also to garner the support from the valley that is our due in return. The Valley can help us to be at the forefront of helping to lead higher education into the information revolution of the next century. For example, our campus infrastructure will be brought to life this Fall five months early-- a symbolic new beginning for SJSU as we enter the next century.
We must embrace the diversity of Silicon Valley and learn to work with that diversity so that all are successful. We continue to serve as a laboratory for the nation. I am pleased with what we have accomplished on campus and am pleased that our Campus Climate Plan was selected as a "Promising Practice" by President Clinton as part of his Initiative on Race (the plan is highlighted on the White House Web Page). That helps prove that we are doing the right things and that we are doing them well.
We can be among the best Metropolitan Universities, not only within California, but in the country.
In fact, last week, U.S. News and World Report issued its annual rankings of America s Best Colleges. In it San Jos State was listed (for the firs time) among the top Western Public Universities. Criteria considered are mission, region and 16 different quality indicators. SJSU tied for the eighth place. For the third year in a row SJSU was ranked among the top western universities for campus diversity. The College of Engineering was ranked 26th among the top 50 best undergraduate engineering schools without Ph.D. programs.
The challenge is to envision the dream, as I know we are beginning to do, then work together to make the dream a reality, not just a pipe dream. I stand ready to do my part. I know that you do also. Let s move this institution forward for the people of California. They deserve that outcome and they need it. Our reward will be in the knowing that we have labored well and have made a positive difference in our world.
Thank you. Have a productive and enriching year!