Access to Excellence Progress Report Presented to CSU Board of Trustees May 2014
In May 2008, the Board of Trustees adopted Access to Excellence as the new strategic plan for the California State University (CSU). A plan of action was developed and presented to the board on November 18, 2008. The board accepted the report and passed a resolution to accept the Accountability Plan (RCOW 11-08-02). Overall, the CSU committed to achieving gains on eight key commitments:
- Reduce Existing Achievement Gaps
- Plan for Faculty Turnover and Invest in Faculty Excellence
- Plan for Staff and Administrative Succession and Professional Growth
- Improve Public Accountability for Learning Results
- Expand Student Outreach
- Enhance Student Opportunities for "Active Learning"
- Enhance Opportunities for Global Awareness
- Act on the CSU's Responsibility to Meet Postbaccalaureate Needs, Including those of Working Professionals
Recognizing the distinctly different characteristics of universities within the CSU, campus administrators, faculty and staff were provided flexibility in terms of identifying operational goals to support Access to Excellence. Over the last several years, these key commitments have remained the hallmark of CSU initiatives, which have evolved and developed over time. Indicators of success have been redefined in response to statewide budget cuts, personnel changes, competing commitments and a more focused approach to achieving the goals. Nonetheless, the eight commitments embedded in Access to Excellence will continue to be the cornerstone of CSU initiatives.
Biennial progress reports summarizing a comprehensive list of key initiatives and outcomes achieved from 2009 to 2011 and 2011 to 2013 are thoroughly documented and are available online. Some of the key initiatives have been modified since the 2011 report to provide better alignment with the operational goals of the strategic plan. Below are four key initiatives that embrace student success and have required considerable focus across the CSU from 2011-2013. A complete list of key CSU initiatives is presented in the 2011-2013 progress report.
The Graduation Initiative
Improving graduation rates and closing the achievement gap remains a key initiative of Access to Excellence. Under the direction of Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Ephraim P. Smith, significant progress has been made in this area and graduation rates are expected to improve by 8 percent based on the 2009 cohort. However, closing the achievement gap remains unchanged and will require more focused attention in the coming year.
The Early Start Program was designed for CSU admitted freshmen to begin any remedial classes prior to the term for which they were admitted, usually the summer before fall enrollment. The Early Start Program was established in June 2010 under Executive Order 1048 and was not included in the original strategic plan. However, it has been integrated into Access to Excellence as a key component of closing the achievement gap. The evaluation of Early Start has moved forward and the results provided by the campuses show promising results.
SB 1440, The Associate Degree for Transfer
Access to Excellence has remained flexible to incorporate creative resolutions and/or legislatively mandated initiatives that support the mission of the CSU and the goals of the strategic plan. For example, SB 1440, the Associate Degree for Transfer program was designed to provide community college students with a guaranteed pathway to the CSU without the swirl of excessive units taken in either the California Community Colleges or the CSU. This initiative has been successful and facilitates the success of the Graduation Initiative (Commitment/Goal 1) and assists the CSU in meeting the goals associated with Student Outreach (Commitment/Goal 5).
Voluntary System of Accountability
The CSU has been a national leader making higher education more transparent to the public. The CSU chancellor, presidents, vice-presidents and other administrators participated in the development and piloting of the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) “College Portrait.” In addition, the CSU has developed its own unique "Public Good" contributions page, which is a national model and provides information on total degrees awarded, the contribution of CSU students to the workforce, the number of Pell Grant recipients, average net tuition to attend a CSU, fees paid per student and average loan debt for CSU bachelor's degree recipients.
Strategic plans are constantly evolving and should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the key initiatives are in synch with the operational goals. In the CSU, modifications have been necessary to ensure that the goals of Access to Excellence are achieved. For example, advances in technology provide new directions and limited resources can delay activities necessary to complete initiatives. Intervening events will always impact strategic plans and constant vigilance is required to ensure that the core mission is the center of all activities. In the CSU, Access to Excellence is the foundation for the future and the vehicle to ensure that our focus on excellence is maintained and our commitment to students resolute.