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.

Toward that end, we will be sponsoring a colloquium, currently scheduled for Dec. 12-13, to bring together experts in topics including base reuse, economic development, blight abatement and eco-tourism with government officials and interested members of the public.

Much public input went into the Fort Ord Reuse Plan, which lays out a sound roadmap for future development. A thriving Cal State campus is a great centerpiece for that effort. Mutually beneficial development around campus – including knowledge-based businesses that benefit from proximity to campus and services for faculty, staff and students – will enhance the area and create jobs.

Meanwhile, we are well-aware of the value of the open spaces that surround us. They provide recreational opportunities that attract faculty, staff and students and natural landscapes that can be living laboratories for research and reclamation efforts.

Balancing these diverse interests is the job of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA). The university has an ex officio seat on the board. I have pledged to be personally involved in the board’s deliberations.

I believe the FORA board remains the best forum for balancing the diverse interests concerning Fort Ord reuse. In speaking with board members, I have tried to stress the importance of maintaining a long-term view of the best development plan for the area. We need development that makes the most sense, not just this year or next, but for decades to come.

I hope this colloquium will add greatly to those discussions. Speakers will seek to shift the focus from Fort Ord development being a zero-sum game – one side wins, one side loses – to how to move forward to produce the most mutual benefit.

This may seem to be a lofty goal, especially considering the emotionally charged debate that often surrounds proposals concerning Fort Ord. However, I think it is an important goal, and one that is in keeping with our university’s role in bringing diverse interests together in pursuit of the common good.

Success at SACNAS: Our university was well-represented at the recent Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference in San Antonio. Eight CSUMB undergraduate students and five graduate students attended.

Marine Science major Timothy Fuller took home first place for his poster presentation in the General Ecology section. Applied Marine and Watershed Science graduate student Sean Windell earned first place in the graduate student oral presentation section in marine science while fellow CSUMB grad student Mary McCormick placed second.

The results highlight several of our university’s strengths: outstanding programs in the marine and environmental sciences; extensive research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students alike; strong faculty mentorships, and a continuing focus on serving diverse students.

A cool school: The Sierra Club recently recognized Cal State Monterey Bay in its Cool Schools program. The program evaluates universities on their efforts to promote sustainable operations and to teach students about sustainability. We received particularly high marks for our waste reduction efforts aimed at reducing, reusing, recycling and composting.

Our university has a responsibility to serve as both a role model and an educator in this regard. The Sierra Club ranking reflects positively on the efforts made by individuals across our campus to make sustainability an integral part of our everyday practices here at CSUMB.

As always, I welcome your comments on this newsletter or on any issues facing the university. You may direct them to