Cal State Long Beach is entering the 2019-2020 school year with spirits high and plenty to boast about — at least that's according to the tone last Friday during the annual convocation event.
President Jane Close Conoley and Provost Brian Jersky took the Carpenter Center stage then to welcome new faculty and students to the campus, which enters 71st year.
"We will show the world that what we do will lead to success," Jersky said.
The college is moving into the new decade with about 11,400 newly admitted students — an increase of 14% from the 2018-2019 school year. Of those admitted students, about 6,000 were from the Long Beach area, Jersky added.
The number of Long Beach students admitted is partly due to Long Beach's College Promise 2.0, which gives qualified LBUSD students two years of free tuition at Long Beach City College. And if they meet admission standards, those students receive a guaranteed transfer to Cal State Long Beach.
Along with a record number of admitted students, CSULB officials announced a new initiative last year, called Beach 2030, to push the university further academically, environmentally, technologically and economically.
"How do we manage the journey into the future? Much like we do now?" President Conoley said during 2018's Convocation. "Or, do we make significant changes in the 'hows' of our campus to reach new 'whats'? Remember, the future is today."
Last year's convocation was followed by an online summit inviting students, faculty and Long Beach residents to share where they could see Cal State Long Beach by 2030. More than 3,600 people participated in the exercise, prompting the university to launch a series of workshops, this time featuring students and faculty, to discuss how to better engage stakeholders to imagine new possibilities for the university.
The groups settled on 50 "opportunities" — ranging from designing an app that allows students to reach out anonymously for help with food insecurity to increasing the number of online classes offered, as well as increasing the number of students who can enroll in online classes.
Whether the university can cross any of those items off their list as prioritized action items is yet to be determined, but the goal for this school year, Jersky said, is to start planning for the next decade of changes and improvements.
The university is aiming for WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation for its new reaffirmation program called Thematic Pathway to Reaffirmation (TPR). In short, the university will be showcasing its plan of action for Beach 2030, fitting the themes of "Intellectual Achievement, Inclusive Excellence, and the Public Good.”
"As a university dedicated to the public good, we can better organize our research around some of the grand challenges facing our region," Conoley said. "For example, water and air quality, poverty, climate change and homelessness."
The accreditation is important because it will determine how much, or how little, federal funding the university will receive for new programs and ideas moving forward, which can ultimately impact individual colleges as well as student financial aid.
WASC officials will be visiting the campus on Oct. 21, 2020, and will decide if CSULB is approved by the following February.
"This is our chance to break down unnecessary barriers and rebuild with fresh ideas," Conoley said.
LEED Platinum Certification
CSULB has been awarded LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for the College of Professional and International Education (CPIE) New Classroom Building Project, making it the first of its kind on campus.
A platinum rating means that the building meets all of USGBC's certification points, and in short, creates at least an equal amount of energy as it uses through solar panels and saving water by using high efficiency toilets and showers, to name a few of the requirements.
The university's other LEED certified buildings include its Hillside Dining Hall and The Steve and Nini Horn Center with a LEED Gold accreditation.
Conoley said that there's more room for improvement, adding that she's placing an emphasis this year on modifying and improving the way the university addresses mental health.
"I have been inspired by a dedicated group of Beach faculty and staff who worked under enormous time pressure this summer to submit a proposal to the state to access funds to train peer mentors and educators to improve the behavioral health of our campus," she said. "If successful, we will offer professional development to larger groups of students, residents, advisors, faculty and staff, in order to create cadres of specially-educated people who offer support and referrals for their colleagues or students facing anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation and hopelessness."
Cal Sate Long Beach classes began on Monday, Aug. 26. For more information about CSULB programs and planning, go to csulb.edu.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.