SFSU Public Affairs Press ReleasePublished by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.
Contact: Matt Itelson
phone: (415) 338-1743
SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- August 29, 2001 - San Francisco State University President Robert A. Corrigan welcomed new and returning faculty University faculty to the start of the 103rd academic year during a speech on Monday, August 27.
The mostly upbeat speech touched on the University's spectacular comeback from the devastating budget cuts of the early 90s, results from the recent accreditation visit which lauded SFSU as an energetic campus, and the record setting levels of research grants and private gifts awarded to the University.
"At a time when everyone from governor to the average person on the street is captivated by the latest in buzzwords: accountability, assessment, outcomes, it is appropriate to evaluate performance, yours and mine since 1988," said Corrigan, who became SFSU president that year. ]
A decade ago, California's bleak economy devastated the CSU budget and required severe campus budget cuts that lead to layoffs and the loss of 20 percent of full-time equivalent faculty positions. A total of 91 faculty members took golden handshakes, costing the University dearly in experience and classroom expertise. Class sections shrank by 20 percent. Library acquisitions froze. Campus maintenance ground to a halt. Equipment budgets decreased and instructional materials allocations dwindled.
Corrigan outlined the University's spectacular comeback, starting with the fact that in the last seven years almost all positions lost to layoffs or retirement have been restored and a number of new clerical staff and technical positions created. In the last 13 years, the University hired nearly 500 new tenure or tenure track faculty. Plans are underway to create 70 additional tenure track faculty positions.
The University's commitment to excellence and diversity is certainly reflected in faculty hires, Corrigan said. "Over the past 13 years, roughly 70 percent of our new hires have been women and faculty of color."
Measures of progress outlined
Other measures of progress come through replaced course sections, cut during the tightened budget years. To better meet student needs, administrators increased seats in high-demand courses so the remaining demand declined by 32 percent between Spring 2000 and Spring 2001, Corrigan said.
The library acquisitions budget has been augmented and when compared with the other California State University campuses, the University now ranks first in total expenditures for materials, expenditures per full-time equivalent student and annual growth in books and periodicals added to the collection.
On the physical plant front, advances have been made. Nine years ago, the University received less than $450,000 from CSU for repairs and maintenance. Last year, the campus allocated $2.3 million from its own funding base to cover urgent needs.
"These have been building years in a more literal sense. This last decade has seen the most construction since the post World War II era when the new campus was built. The Humanities Building, the Fine Arts Building, the student apartments at Centennial Square, the Student Services Building, the renovation of the Student Center, retrofits under way in Psychology and Hensill Hall, the restoration of Cox Stadium - all have transformed the look and feel of the campus," Corrigan told the standing-room-only audience gathered at Knuth Hall. "Almost half of the 19 general fund buildings on the campus are either new construction or have been renovated since 1988."
Record setting numbers in grants and gifts
Corrigan went on to tout faculty research grants and contracts which received a milestone total of $40 million. "This is generally considered the threshold for a research university and while we are not a research university in the conventional sense, our faculty are clearly succeeding in an even more difficult arena, that of a university equally committed to fine teaching and high quality scholarship. Over the last two years, our grants and contracts total has risen by some 66 percent."
However, private giving is the true success story, Corrigan said. A major individual gift last year lifted the University to new heights and the campus again exceeded CSU fund-raising goals.
"Our grassroots support continues to grow as evidenced by the steady rise in annual fund donors - a 250 percent increase in the last five years. Our endowment totals have grown even more rapidly - an almost 500 percent jump in that same period. We rank ninth nationally out of 540 comprehensive campuses in the amount of private money we raised last year," he said.
Commitment to Diversity Continues
The University ranked first in the nation in awarding undergraduate business degrees to Asian American students, according to a recent survey in Black Issues in Higher Education. SFSU also ranks fifth out of 3,000 universities in the number of bachelor's degrees granted to African American students studying English.
And, as with faculty hires, students reflect the city's cultural diversity. Last fall 68 percent of undergraduates were students of color and in the graduate level more than 40 percent are students of color, an increase of 15 percent since 1988.
Although he focused on the outstanding measures of success, Corrigan also addressed concerns over the lack of a faculty contract and enrollment numbers. Early reports show enrollment at about 21,000 FTEs (full-time equivalent students)- the highest in the University's history - yet SFSU is not increasing the number of students at the rate projected.
"Despite Herculean efforts made by many faculty and staff in this room, we emerged from Touch Tone registration considerably below the enrollment target on which our CSU funding is based. This is very distressing, but not fatal," he said, adding that earlier in the month enrollment appeared to have steadied at about 2 percent below target - a point at which there would be no financial penalties imposed by the CSU Chancellor's Office. Projections for this "college year," which includes the following semesters - Summer and Fall '01and Spring'02 - indicate that State will enroll 1,000 more annual FTEs over last "college year," he pointed out.
Referring to an earlier meeting with faculty leaders, Corrigan said, "I announced that because the budget was balanced, there would be no need for a 'tax' (or tithe), or the continuation of last year's salary savings program...I am still able to honor that promise, despite the shortfall in enrollments."
However, if the expected shortfall materializes, he informed faculty that the Chancellor's office could reduce the University's base budget by $2.7 million to distribute to other campuses that have come in over their enrollment target. If that action is taken, the University has been promised a "loan" of $2.7 million from the Chancellor's reserve to get the campus through the year.
If the campus can recapture lost enrollment next year, the loan would be forgiven. He emphasized that nothing is final yet - including enrollment numbers - but the campus has budgeted against $2.7 million that was allocated for an enrollment target that has not yet been achieved.
Corrigan stressed that the campus is not losing enrollment, but it is not gaining enrollment at the rate projected.
Demographic shifts in student enrollment
Corrigan pointed out that the much-heralded Tidal Wave II - the children of Baby Boomers now enrolling in college - appear to be flocking to Southern California campuses. Forecasters predict a 30 percent or higher demand for freshman seats throughout the CSU system, but for various demographic reasons, Northern California has not yet felt the impact.
"In the Bay Area, residential birthrates are down and the fertility rates amongst the immigrant groups we absorb are generally lower than those for the L.A. Basin," he said.
"Of the major cities in the U.S., San Francisco has the lowest ratio of children to adults, the lowest for any city in California. Right now, there are several thousand fewer students in the San Francisco Unified School District than there were five years ago," he added.
And SFSU's student population is changing with a higher number of younger students making their way to the campus. Nearly 40 percent of undergraduates are under 21 - up from 32 percent in 1992. First-time freshman enrollment grew by 62 percent in the last nine years with more young students coming from beyond the longtime "feeder" schools. Corrigan said SFSU could become a "destination campus" - a campus of choice for first-time freshman, transfers and graduate students who live outside a comfortable commute. He said that he would be asking for input from the campus community on the concept of a "destination campus" during the next phase of a campus-wide strategic planning process.
He also pointed out that with little effort, out-of-state enrollment is growing and international students are increasingly attracted to SFSU. In the last two years, the University ranked third in the nation among master's degree granting institutions in international student enrollment.
Disappointment with lack of a faculty contract
The president also commented on the stalled negotiations for a new faculty contract simply stating: "I suppose there is nnot much that you and I can do about a dysfunctional collective bargaining process at the system level, but surely we can work together as we have before to ensure that regardless of what happens statewide we can remain a healthy, functioning model for public, urban higher education at its best and serve our students as we always have."
Praise from the Reaccreditation Report
In closing, Corrigan borrowed from a recently-released report written by team members from the Western Association of School and Colleges which reaffirmed the University's accreditation for another 10 years.
"This is a pretty remarkable place. The students are committed and wonderful and the faculty strong and committed with the interests of their students at heart. The team recognized and applauded the campus commitment to diversity and to community involvement as central assets," he said.
As the accreditation team chair pointed out and Corrigan wrapped up his speech: "You have a great opportunity to do things that will benefit all America."
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Last modified April 24, 2007, by Office of Public Affairs