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CSU Trustees Adopt Long-Range Strategic Plan

Access to Excellence'focuses on bridging achievement gap and public accountability

(May 14, 2008) - The California State University Board of Trustees has adopted an updated long-range strategic plan titled Access to Excellence, which commits the CSU to bridge the existing student achievement gap over the next decade and sets in place an unprecedented commitment to public accountability. Both commitments are part of a wide reaching and comprehensive strategic plan that will guide the largest public university system in the country over the next ten years. Access to Excellence builds upon the foundation of the Cornerstones initiative adopted in 1998.

“This plan commits the CSU to ensure the success of students in knowing how to enter college, and sees them through to completion to a baccalaureate degree and beyond,” said Roberta Achtenberg, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees.  “Through Access to Excellence, the CSU has positioned itself as a leader in strengthening public accountability, and ensuring that transparency translates into greater student learning and informed constituencies.  This is not a plan in theory, but one crafted through an extraordinary consensus process, and one that will guide our decision making to meet the challenges of the future.”

Access to Excellence was developed through a systemwide consultative process and identifies three major priorities for the system:  1) increasing student access and success; 2) meeting the state’s need for economic and civic development, through continued investment in applied research and meeting workforce needs; and 3) sustaining institutional excellence through investments in faculty and staff, innovation in teaching and increased involvement of undergraduates in research and their communities. 

The strategic plan outlines eight different goals within these priority areas:

  • Reduce existing achievement gaps:  Commit to cutting in half existing achievement gaps for college-going rates among high school graduates, first year retention rates, transfer readiness, degree completion, and graduate and professional school readiness. 
  • Plan for faculty turnover/invest in faculty excellence:  Reduce compensation gaps and increase the number of tenure-track faculty.  Engage in faculty planning effort, developing strong practices in faculty recruitment and retention, as well as faculty professional development and evaluation.  Identify best practices across campuses addressing workload reallocation.
  • Plan for staff and administrative succession and professional growth:  Close salary gaps where they exist, offer appropriate levels of training and development.  Invest in developing the next generation of academic and administrative leaders.
  • Improve public accountability for learning results:  Strengthen accountability to the public for learning results through programs such as the Voluntary System of Accountability.  Continue to reach out to employers to identify competencies of CSU graduates and to strengthen academic programs. 
  • Expand student outreach:  Continue CSU efforts to reach out to new populations of students starting in middle school; deepen and extend the Early Assessment Program through systematic partnerships with school districts.
  • Enhance student opportunities for “active learning”:  Involve students in research and community activities in order to increase retention, enhance learning.  Increase opportunities for student research experiences.
  • Enhance opportunities for global awareness:  Foster capacity to create understanding of global issues and support faculty work that internationalizes curricula and student experience.
  • Address CSU’s post-baccalaureate needs, including working professionals:  Continue to expand graduate and professional program offerings to meet workforce needs of the state.  Expand capacity through extension programs to better meet the needs for continuing education and retraining. 

Access to Excellence also calls for increased collaboration with state policy leaders, other educational segments, and the business and civic community to secure the resources necessary to increase educational attainment levels; to focus on preparation of adequate numbers of well-trained teachers, and to sustain effective learning strategies in P-12 schools.  In approving the new strategic plan, the Board asked that timetables and metrics be developed for the plan, and for periodic updates on progress toward achieving its goals.  An implementation plan will be developed over the next several months. 

The full Access to Excellence strategic report can be viewed here (.pdf).



The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 450,000 students and 46,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded nearly 2.5 million degrees, about 90,000 annually. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See

Last Update: May 14, 2008

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