COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Cal State San Marcos’ 2011 report to the community

Cal State University San Marcos is moving quickly toward its 25th anniversary in 2015 with a focus on building for the future, in partnership with and to the benefit of our dynamic and growing region. This was the message that President Karen Haynes delivered to nearly 500 regional leaders from government, business and service organizations on at her seventh annual Report to the Community.
Over the last two decades, Cal State San Marcos has established itself as a leader and first responder to the challenges and changes our region has faced. Take, for example, the university’s guaranteed admission programs, which answer the overwhelming need to get students in our own backyard prepared for and into college. In our region, 17 percent of students today are dropping out of high school and, of those who stay in school, only 44 percent complete college preparatory courses.
In 2006 Cal State San Marcos partnered with the San Marcos Unified School District and guaranteed admission to all of its graduating seniors — if they did the work and met minimum admissions requirements. Four years later, nearly 300 students have been admitted under the agreement and the university now has six other similar MOUs with regional school districts and organizations.
Or consider Cal State San Marcos’ outstanding Veterans Program, which mobilizes the university’s ability to do its part in assisting our region’s thousands of veterans to make the transition to the civilian workforce — a number expected to increase dramatically as more military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan complete their service. The university is now ranked in the top 15 percent nationally for veteran education, and “Military Times Edge” ranked Cal State San Marcos 40 out of 4,000 universities in veteran and active duty support.
Cal State San Marcos has now graduated more than 23,000 individuals into the workforce, with several thousand more preparing to graduate this spring. Nearly 90 percent of them remain here in our communities, providing our local employers with educated, technology savvy graduates while supplying our region with the next generation of articulate and confident leaders.
With these and many more accomplishments, Cal State San Marcos is now focused on the future. Haynes’ vision is that by 2015, the university will have further raised educational attainment rates, particularly among the most educationally at risk populations, thus assuring economic vitality and social transformation throughout our region, while modeling best 21st century concepts in curriculum, pedagogy, research and community engagement.
Efforts are taking place now in Cal State San Marcos’ classrooms and centers, and through the research activities of its faculty, to train students for success in our communities and workplaces after graduation.
Cal State San Marcos is directing resources to expand remediation and summer bridge programs, develop academic planning tools, and streamline new student orientation so that more of the students who enter the university follow through to graduation.
As a vibrant campus in a growing region, Cal State San Marcos plans to continue to embrace new technology to support student learning, collaborate with other research institutions, and help regional business develop and incubate.
Additionally, the campus is looking forward to becoming an even greater destination for students and community members alike to enjoy arts, theater and cultural activities.
However, state budget cuts continue to impede the university’s ability to move forward the goals of this visionary President. The governor has proposed a $500 million cut to the CSU system with Cal State San Marcos’ share expected to be approximately $9.5 million, putting funding levels back to 2005-2006 levels but with 22 percent more students to serve.
This lack of investment is maddening because public universities are not part of the budget problem — they are the solution. Indeed, a recent economic impact report showed that Cal State San Marcos’ graduates help fuel our economy. Nearly $324 million dollars of alumni earnings are attributable to their degrees — which creates an additional $738 million dollars of industry activity throughout California.
As Cal State San Marcos does its part to grow and serve our region, we must do what we can to advocate and support its mission. Join me and the other 35 members of the CSUSM University Council in advocating to our lawmakers that Cal State San Marcos is a tremendous economic, cultural, and social driver in this region. Because we all lose when academic programs are cut. We all lose when qualified, bright students are turned away. And, we all lose when community partnerships go unfulfilled.

Julie Wright
Chair, CSUSM University Advisory Council
President and Founder, (W)right On Communications

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