Fall Conference Speech By The President

by President Bob H. Suzuki

Introductory Remarks

Thank you, Jim, and good morning everybody. I want to join Dr. Burke in welcoming all of you to Fall Conference 2002. And I want to extend a special welcome to those who have joined Cal Poly Pomona since last year?s Fall Conference. Welcome to the Cal Poly Pomona family!

On behalf of all of us, I would first like to thank Dr. Burke, our Dean of the Collins School of Hospitality Management, for his work as chair of this year?s Fall Conference committee and the other members of his committee for another outstanding effort. Would all members of the committee please stand so we can recognize you?

Also, we have another wonderful breakfast this year, thanks to the great work of our campus food service staff. Let?s all turn around and give them a big hand!

Before I go into my State of the University report, let me take a few moments on a solemn note. Over the past week, people throughout the nation have commemorated the anniversary of September 11, 2001 in various ways. Because this is our first opportunity to come together as a family since September 11th, I would like to ask all of you to stand and join me at this time in a moment of silence as we pay tribute to those who lost their lives just over a year ago ? Thank you very much.

As many of you know, in the aftermath of September 11th, Cal Poly Pomona reaffirmed its commitment to creating a working, learning and social environment that is free from violence, discrimination and hostility through its strong policies against such behavior. We will continue to enforce these policies to maintain a campus climate of civility and respect, and I urge all of you to support and contribute to these efforts.

State of the University

Let me begin my State of the University report by updating you on a number of recent developments on campus.

For the past 18 months, I have probably attended more grand openings of new facilities than most presidents do in a career. And we?re not through yet! On October 1, we will open BioTrek, a magnificent new educational laboratory that features learning centers in aquatic biology, ethnobotany and a live rainforest. As we complete a number of remaining projects, such as the new student housing project and the University Union expansion which will be completed within the next 18 months, we will have built nearly $200 million in new facilities since 1998. And over the next 6-8 years, we are projecting more than $300 million in additional construction, including the $150 million Technology Park, which we are calling ?Innovation Village.? A number of these projects will be funded partially or fully by gifts and donations from the private sector, which reached a record high of $13.4 million during the past year.

I also want to mention an important project that was completed over a decade ago, the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies. As environmental issues loom ever larger in the world, the center?s work is becoming more and more significant. So I hope many of you will consider becoming involved with the center.

Today, we are educating more students than ever before, with our enrollments increasing by about a thousand students every year. Our fall headcount is just under 20,000. And with the onset of Tidal Wave II, we are becoming increasingly selective in the quality of students we admit; in fact, the mean SAT score of our first-time freshmen has been steadily rising over the past five years and is now higher than that of any CSU campus in the L.A. basin and even higher than that of San Diego State.

The efforts of our faculty and staff have resulted in prestigious academic programs, new and expanded state-of-the-art facilities, and well-prepared graduates. Your efforts have created a unique educational environment that has become widely known and greatly admired, and students are increasingly identifying Cal Poly Pomonaas their campus of first choice.

Incidentally, I should mention that in a recent academic survey, our Collins School was ranked the second best school of hospitality management in the country. Dean Burke, congratulations to you and your faculty and staff for this great accomplishment!

By the way, this survey was based on quantitative data and other information submitted by the participating institutions, and not on subjective judgments about reputation. I have little doubt that many of our other academic programs would be ranked among the top in the country based on similar surveys.

All of these accomplishments are the result of the hard work that you, our faculty and staff, have done. As a consequence, you are transforming the lives of thousands of our students. So, all of you have good reason to be proud of what you have accomplished here at Cal Poly Pomona.

As I mentioned in my ?Dear Colleague? letter, there is a very important bond measure, Proposition 47, on the November ballot. I am not going to repeat the information I have provided in my letter, but please inform yourself about this measure before voting because it has huge consequences for Cal Poly Pomona. We will also be providing the campus community with more information on this issue in the next several weeks.

As the numbers of students in K-12 and higher education continues to increase dramatically, California faces monumental challenges in funding all levels of education. Each of us has a responsibility to understand those challenges so we can make decisions in the best interest of our state.

I also indicated in my letter that the state is facing a fiscal crisis of major proportions with an estimated shortfall in tax revenues of around $25 billion. While the Legislature and Governor have come to a budget agreement that does not subject higher education to any major cuts, the budget bill does give the Governor the authority to make additional cuts of up to $750 million in the coming months.

Moreover, as I mentioned in my letter, much larger cuts may be made in the 2003/2004 fiscal year. Nonetheless, I am confident we will come through the next two years in far better shape than during the recession of the early 1990s because of better planning and the greater efficiency of our operations. We will keep you well informed of any developments in the coming months, and ask for your continued cooperation and support as we try to minimize the impact of this fiscal crisis. More …

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