Our plans for growing our university in the years to come depend on having the right infrastructure in place to accommodate that growth. Part of that is physical infrastructure –classrooms, offices, residence halls, etc. An equally important aspect is academic infrastructure, an organization that will provide a suitable foundation for our core academic mission going forward.
The university-wide conversation on our academic organization, led by Interim Provost Julio Blanco, has yielded a structure that I believe will serve us well in the years ahead.
A recent edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education includes an in-depth examination of the reasons for and consequences of declining public support of higher education.
A series of articles looks at a variety of factors, including the recession, the anti-tax movement, powerful lobbying efforts by competing budgetary interests and the seeming inability of public higher education leaders to unite behind a single message.
Last weekend was a busy one on campus, with our women’s basketball team making its network television debut and the MB Blitz raising more than $10,000 for athletic scholarships.
But I would like to talk first about weekend events that happened off campus. On Saturday and Sunday, I was graciously welcomed to two Seaside churches to talk about our university and the opportunities for higher education through the CSU. Sunday, Interim Provost Julio Blanco and Ronnie Higgs, our vice president of student affairs and enrollment services, spoke at Seaside churches as well.
Since I became president of Cal State Monterey Bay, I have stressed the important role our campus should play in regional, cultural and economic development.
This year, the President’s Speaker Series will advance that effort. Built around the theme of “Flourish Monterey County,” the series will bring speakers to campus to address issues of concern to the community we serve.
Those returning to campus for the spring semester will notice that the removal of the mural, which commemorated the transition of Fort Ord from swords to plowshares, on the corner of Inter-Garrison Road and Fifth Avenue has been completed.
The removal was prompted by the safety hazard posed by the presence of lead in the paint used for the mural. However, its removal gives us the opportunity to create new public art for that site.
The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time both for taking stock and looking forward.
For Cal State Monterey Bay, 2013 was a positive year of change and progress. We continued to grow in size, in reputation and in service to our community. More and more, we are a campus of choice for students from around California, and we are attracting a growing number of international students as well. The improving state budget picture makes it more likely we will be able to increase our enrollment to 8,000 students by the end of the decade.
While in many ways we at Cal State Monterey Bay celebrate our legacy as the former Fort Ord, there is one very visible aspect of that legacy that impedes our university’s progress.
Of course I am referring to the remaining military-related structures on CSUMB property. The abandoned buildings are both an eyesore and a potential safety hazard and they undermine the pride we all feel about our growing campus.
In creating a university from an abandoned military base, the first leaders of Cal State Monterey Bay did a remarkable job of repurposing former military facilities into usable space for the many activities of a campus community.
Anyone who follows the local news knows that development issues surrounding the former Fort Ord remain politically contentious.
Strong feelings on all sides of this issue are understandable; the land that makes up the former Fort Ord is a unique and priceless resource.
Unfortunately, ongoing debates over specific development proposals too often obscure the larger picture. As the major success story of Fort Ord reuse and the county’s four-year public university, Cal State Monterey Bay has a responsibility, I believe, to encourage a more long-range view.