Financing education when money is tightPresident's Observations — December 3, 2010
In dark budget times, it’s nice to walk a bit on the brighter side, especially for our students.
While there’s still great uncertainty, there are rays of hope, thanks to the 2010-2011 California state budget approved in October, which restored a portion of the funds previously cut from the California State University budget. To assure that we met our highest goal – providing high quality student programs – our fall enrollment was dramatically reduced from 17,850 students in fall 2009 to 16,400 this year.
But with some of the funding returned, CSUSB and its sister campuses will be able to admit new students and offer courses that were previously eliminated because of budget reductions. In fact, we’ve re-opened admissions for the upcoming winter and spring 2011 quarters for eligible first-time freshmen, upper-division transfers, lower-division transfers who would have qualified to attend the university out of high school, and second-baccalaureate candidates.
Applications for winter 2011 must be submitted by Dec. 1. Students should submit official documents such as transcripts and test scores as soon as possible to expedite admission to the university. In addition, CSUSB is accepting applications for the 2011-2012 academic year. The priority application period for fall 2011 continues through Nov. 30.
We believe the budget indicates that the governor and legislature understand higher education’s profound role in promoting economic development that multiplies many times through the economy and society. For the state and the Inland Empire to succeed, we’ll need higher education to foster more educated workers, who will eventually be our future business and government leaders, engineers, entrepreneurs, nurses, social workers, scientists, teachers, and countless other important professionals – and critically, they will be our taxpayers.
Likewise, our problems of poverty, social fragmentation, crime, homelessness, and the like almost all have origins in low educational achievement.
The importance of a college degree has never been greater. No matter how sour the economy, students who graduate from college tend to be far better employed, have unemployment rates that are one-half of those without degrees, earn more than $1 million more over their lifetimes, are healthier, vote more, volunteer more and tend to be more involved in their communities.
The year was marked by a series of drastic measures taken to counter $26 million in budget cuts. These measures included reduced enrollments, higher student fees, furloughs for all employees, hiring freezes and much more. I’m proud to say that even with sharply diminished resources, CSUSB faculty, staff and students found ways to excel.
Last year, the university had record grants and contracts activity, with more than $33 million in new funding – always among the leaders in the CSU system.
When compared to institutions with student demographic backgrounds similar to CSUSB students, our six-year graduation rate is in the top 11 percent nationally. Among CSU campuses, we rank No. 1 in the first-to-second year retention of African American students and No. 3 in the retention of Latino students. In addition to being No. 12 nationally in Latino undergraduate degrees awarded, we’re No.1 in the U.S. in math degrees earned by Latinos.
I’m also quite pleased with the President’s Academic Excellence Scholarship program, which offers scholarships to San Bernardino County students in the top 1 percent of their high school graduating classes. This fall, nearly 170 students on campus were recruited as PAES scholars. These students lift the quality of the university, and they will be the future leaders of our region.
Our faculty, staff and students continue to be honored for their academic excellence and accomplishments, and the university as a whole is gaining distinction with numerous national recognitions as a leader in community service and energy efficiency.
Looking ahead, we hope the worst of the budget crisis is behind us, but given some of the assumptions on which the budget was built, we may well be tested again this year and next. If we need to, we’ll respond to fiscal and other challenges with resilience as we have in the past. Thank you for providing your support and for helping us to collectively make the world a better place.