Fall Conference Addresses Five Major University Initiatives

Fall Conference Addresses Five Major University Initiatives
Phillip Rosenkrantz, far left, answers questions during panel discussion on P&R.;
Curtis Clark demonstrates a screen reader during the Accessible Technology Initiative workshop.
Comments are written about climate neutrality and the University Master Plan during a Fall Conference workshop.

More than 1,500 people gathered Sept. 17, for the 35th annual Fall Convocation, the symbolic start to the new academic year. This event marked the largest turnout in its history.

During the morning event, President Michael Ortiz delivered his state-of-the-university speech, which included many accolades, including recognition of this year's Hart Award recipient John Moore and information on five major initiatives on campus.

“Cal Poly Pomona is a great university because we take on issues that are hard to address, but important to solve,” Ortiz said. “We hold each other accountable to ensure that learning stands as our primary objective. We take an ordinary budget and perform extraordinary work. We transform lives.”

The five initiatives are: the university's Climate Neutrality Commitment, Prioritization and Recovery, University Master Plan, WASC Accreditation, and the Accessible Technology Initiative. Ortiz invited campus leaders directly involved with the initiatives to give short presentations during Fall Convocation. Additionally, each initiative was more thoroughly addressed at afternoon workshops at the Bronco Student Center.

Accessible Technology Initiative

Cathy Schmitt Whittaker, director of the Disabilities Resource Center, brought the campus up-to-date on issues regarding accessibility.

“The Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) is the CSU's commitment to provide access and equity to electronic and information technology for persons with disabilities,” Schmitt Whittaker said. “ATI includes three priority areas; Web accessibility, instructional materials accessibility and the procurement of E&IT or electronic and information technologies. These broad reaching priority areas mean that everyone will be involved in ATI efforts.”

The afternoon ATI workshop offered severaldemonstrations of technology that could aid people with disabilities. Those tools included software that reads aloud Web sites and documents. The workshop also featured a short film and discussion by a few faculty members who are incorporating universal design concepts into their teaching.

Universal design is an approach that attempts to make products and services usable by the greatest number of people, including individuals with disabilities. For more details about this and other aspects of ATI, visit https://www.cpp.edu/~accessibility/.

Prioritization & Recovery

Academic Senate President John Self, who is also chair of the Prioritization & Recovery Steering Committee, spoke at Convocation about the P&R process.

“P&R is about analyzing everything we do at Cal Poly Pomona and ensuring that we are dedicating our limited resources in the right ways,” Self said during his Convocation remarks.

Under a directive from President Ortiz, the Steering Committee will be responsible to review recommendations from the Academic Programs and Support Programs P&R Committees. These committees have been charged with evaluating each program on campus in order to develop a proposal based on common criteria for potential increased support, decreased support, restructuring or discontinuing.  

The Steering Committee will conduct a comprehensive process that allows all university stakeholders to provide feedback. This consultation will result in a set of initial recommendations delivered to the president by the end of January 2008.

The afternoon P&R workshop was well attended by faculty and staff members. Co-chairs of the P&R Academic Programs Committee, Engineering Professor Phillip Rosenkrantz and Architecture Professor Kip Dickson, each spoke about the P&R process and addressed a variety of concerns regarding academic recommendations.

In June, the first academic P&R recommendations were released to the campus. They include significant recommendations that would change the organization of some academic programs. Rosenkrantz and Dickson informed the audience that there are more recommendations to come, and there will be ample opportunity for the campus community and other university stakeholders to share input.

“I am committed to making sure that each of you has every possible opportunity to become engaged with this process,” Self said at Convocation. “We need to hear every voice – not just the loudest. We need to understand the impact of any and all decisions. We are going to listen to students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, friends and government leaders. More than anything else, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. No decision has been made on anything.”

Colleges of Science and Agriculture Dean Donald Straney and Director of I&IT Web Development Curtis Clark spoke about P&R regarding support programs. Recommendations for support programs will be released within the coming weeks.

Ed Barnes, vice president for Administrative Affairs and CFO, also participated in the P&R panel.

WASC Accreditation

Claudia Pinter-Lucke, associate vice president of Undergraduates Studies, spoke about the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Accreditation process.

“Accreditation helps an institution to develop and sustain effective educational programs and assures the public and other organizations that the institution has met high standards of quality,” she said during Convocation.

WASC is a way for universities to prove that they offer quality programs. Funding sources often require a university be accredited. The accreditation process is lengthy and thorough, requiring input from many people on campus.

During the afternoon workshop, members of the WASC committee presented a PowerPoint presentation and walked people through the accreditation process. To learn more visit, https://www.cpp.edu/~wasc/.

Climate Commitment

Last winter, Ortiz became a charter signatory of the university Presidents Climate Commitment, which committed the university to address its own impact on the environment. During Fall Convocation, Kyle Brown, director of the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies and Heidi Rusina, a Regenerative Studies graduate student, brought the university up-to-date on the efforts of the
President's Climate Commitment Task Force.

“President Ortiz convened the task force last spring, and it currently boasts over 50 members and volunteers who have been involved in this effort to date. This is an energetic group of students, staff, faculty and administrators representing a variety of entities across campus,” Brown said during Convocation.

An inventory of the university's greenhouse gas emissions from 1995 – 2005 was conducted during the summer. That study shows that the largest contributor to harmful carbon dioxide emissions at Cal Poly Pomona comes from transportation.  Further information is available at the new Climate Commitment Web site, https://www.cpp.edu/~climate/.

In the afternoon the Climate Commitment workshop joined the University Master Plan workshop.

University Master Plan

The University Master Plan provides a physical framework to the design and use of campus during a 10-year period. This plan addresses how much space the university has and the best way to use that space. From pedestrian walkways, to office and classroom space to the types of amenities offered on campus, this plan has it all.

That plan is also going through a major update during the next three years, said Michael Sylvester, associate vice president of Facilities Planning & Management.

“Our planning will address how we enhance 'learning-centeredness' and how we can become climate neutral,” Sylvester said at Convocation. “We will explore opportunities to meet the demands of our academic mission as well as the need to enhance student life. And finally, we will study the infrastructure that supports our buildings and facilities and plan for critical upgrades and improvements to our electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems that stretch across our vast campus.”

The joint afternoon session for the University Master Plan and Climate Commitment initiatives allowed visitors to peruse posters and a video presentation. Input was sought on questions like: Do we plan to grow to 30,000 students, or do we plan for 35,000 students? What facilities will be required to meet this growth? Should we continue to add residential buildings or are we going to remain primarily a commuter campus? What does a carbon neutral campus look like? Where is the entrance to the campus?

For more information on the University Master Plan, visit https://www.cpp.edu/~fpm/planning/master_plan/index.html.

Streaming video with closed captions are available of the Fall Convocation ceremony at https://video.cpp.edu/streaming/cpp/fallconf.html.