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President Jolene Koeseter's Blog

Message of Thanks

by Dr. Jolene Koester on December 16th, 2011 under Campus messages, Communications, Faculty, Staff

As all of us look ahead to the holidays and prepare for a much deserved break from our important responsibilities and the demands of our work at the University, I wish to share with you some thoughts as my privileged time as president of this outstanding institution draws to a close.

While I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of wonderful tributes and recognition I have received—especially in the last few months as I have said farewell to many of you individually and to many of the diverse groups and supporters who have contributed so much to Cal State Northridge—I have taken great care to credit these achievements to all of you, the committed individuals who collectively form the heart of this campus community and have worked so hard and tirelessly to achieve our mission. The success we have achieved has been a collaborative effort and would not have been possible without your full engagement and contributions.

When the Board of Trustees announced my appointment as the fourth president of California State University, Northridge in 2000, I was given a number of charges, among them to raise the University’s profile positively in the community. The opportunity to highlight the distinction and dedication of our campus community has made this charge a joy to fulfill during my years here.

Very early in my presidency—indeed, even before I formally assumed the role—I learned there was much excellence at this University that went unnoticed and unacknowledged. Excellence in the academic programs and unrecognized contributions to the region. I came to understand that Cal State Northridge was an institution that epitomized a university with a regional mission that accomplished not just private good for its graduates in the form of professional and financial success, but also made enormous contributions to the public good by educating teachers, accountants, engineers, small business owners, managers in city government, those who work in the entertainment industry, and more. Our graduates are everywhere you look and I’m proud that many of them now proudly assert their association with Cal State Northridge.

I mention this to remind you that this success and commitment to excellence have always been part of the University. For these reasons, though it was with some sadness I leave this wonderful institution which has been a source of great personal and professional pride and satisfaction, I do so with the knowledge that the institution will continue to flourish and grow.

I remember with fondness the warm welcome, the pride, and the sense of community that greeted me when I first arrived on this campus in 2000. So as I depart, I ask that you give our newly named interim president, Dr. Harry Hellenbrand, the same level of commitment, trust, collegiality, and collaboration you have given me to ensure the continued excellence of the University. When he begins his appointment on Jan. 1, 2012, Interim President Hellenbrand will need your full dedication to maintain the University’s momentum during the transition, so that whoever is formally appointed as the next president can quickly assume the role of the office and move forward with assurance. I am confident all of you will welcome and support the new president with the same level of generosity and energy that has made my tenure at California State University, Northridge so extraordinary and fulfilling.

For now, it’s time for me to begin the next phase of my life’s journey, to focus on other challenges, and experience other ways of being. It is now time for me to heed Gandhi’s thought that “there is more to life than increasing its speed.”

When the new year begins, Cal State Northridge will begin a new era in its storied history. I am proud to have contributed to its legacy. Thank you for your support of the University and of me as president. I have been privileged and blessed to work with such wonderful colleagues.

Best wishes to all for a peaceful, safe and joyful holiday season and new year.

This message is also posted at the President’s Letters website.

Provost to Serve as Interim President

by Dr. Jolene Koester on December 15th, 2011 under Communications

California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed has appointed Cal State Northridge Provost Harold Hellenbrand to serve as interim president of the University effective January 1, 2012. He will serve in the role until a permanent president begins at the campus.

The full news release about the appointment is available here.

Re-accreditation Process Update

by Dr. Jolene Koester on December 6th, 2011 under Campus messages, Communications, Reaccreditation

I’m delighted to share the news that the external peer review team charged with conducting the Educational Effectiveness Review (EER) of Cal State Northridge as part of the University’s re-accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has submitted its final report.

The report was extremely laudatory of the campus, commending Cal State Northridge for “creating an enviable campus climate where collaborative problem-solving is the norm” and “investing in faculty and staff in ways that CSUN believes will contribute to student learning and success.”

The full report may be found at our campus’s re-accreditation website.

We should all take great pride in the results. In particular, I would like to thank the entire campus WASC team for its work and the entire campus community for your excellence.

As a reminder, the first phase of the two-part process—the Capacity and Preparatory Review (CPR)—was completed in early 2010, which cleared the way for the recently completed EER.

Early next year, the WASC Commission will review the final report and meet with campus representatives. Shortly thereafter, we expect WASC to announce the re-accreditation of the University.

Though I will no longer be president when the announcement is made, given the exceedingly positive tone of the reports, I look forward to hearing the news about the University’s re-accreditation, which caps a process originally begun in 2007.

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving….

by Dr. Jolene Koester on November 22nd, 2011 under Campus messages, Communications, Events, Faculty, Staff

When I announced my decision last spring to step down as president, I promised to remain fully engaged with the University until the very conclusion of my appointment.

I did so knowing that the important everyday business of the University would need to continue and require ongoing nurturing and leadership. It was also my way of honoring and recognizing the enduring dedication of the faculty, staff and others who around the year give so much of their time, energy and focus to the success and well being of Cal State Northridge.

The importance of such in-depth commitment and support was clearly in evidence to me earlier this month on November 4, when the University hosted the 10th annual Volunteer Service Awards sponsored by the Alumni Association. It’s a wonderful event that recognizes the University’s committed volunteers and supporters. At the celebration, I was particularly pleased to present the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership to Milt Valera ’68 for his outstanding contributions as an alumnus.

Other recent memorable events include the dedication of the Department of Kinesiology’s new ExerCircuit Fitness Parcourse on November 9, the chartering of the Black Alumni Association, and the Founders Day celebration on September 23.

I also have been personally touched by the warm acknowledgments I have received from many individuals and organizations on campus and in the community as I draw closer to the end of my appointment. This includes the memorable formal farewell event from faculty and staff on November 9. It was a perfect event that gave me an opportunity to express appreciation to everyone who made my experience here joyful and productive, and contributed to my work at the University.

All these activities are a reminder of the diversity and vitality of the Cal State Northridge community. As I have said, the true success of the University lies in the blessed abundance of talent and resources we have here, which is more than the sum of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others who contribute to the University’s excellence. It provides great comfort to me, as outgoing president, that the great work being done on campus and the everyday work that contributes to our mission to serve students and the community, will continue unabated and with commitment.

In this spirit—and in recognition of the abundance of commitment that exists at Cal State Northridge—I wish everyone a restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.

Campus Budget and Student FAQs Updated

by Dr. Jolene Koester on November 18th, 2011 under Budget, Campus messages, Students

Please note that the FAQs for the Campus Budget and Students have recently been updated.

9/11 Commemoration

by Dr. Jolene Koester on September 9th, 2011 under Campus messages, Communications, Community

In recent weeks, as the nation has approached the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we’ve read and heard many remembrances of people’s personal experiences and of the friends and loved ones lost that day. These accounts are moving and vivid reminders of the devastating impact the tragedy continues to have on the psyche of the nation as well as on the many individuals who were affected both directly and indirectly by the events of that day.

Even though Cal State Northridge is located thousands of miles away from where the incidents of September 11, 2001 occurred, the campus was not untouched by its effects. Many in the campus community experienced profound grief, sadness and personal loss. Like many throughout the nation, for the first time in generations, the sense of security and stability that was part of our everyday lives gave way to uncertainty.

In a country as diverse as ours, it’s understandable that there will be great differences in the way people react and feel after such events, and the way they deal with and make sense of what occurred. At Cal State Northridge, I was proud that we came together as a University community to remember the victims as well as honor the examples of sacrifice, service and heroism that were exhibited both during and after 9/11. Just as importantly, as a learning community that promotes respect for all people, values the richness of diversity, and honors the expression of differing views, 9/11 presented an opportunity for us to test and re-affirm our commitment to these ideals.

In the years since September 11, 2001, the nation has continued to heal and move forward while never forgetting the profound loss and sacrifice of that day. It seems fitting, then, that the country has agreed that the best way to honor the lives that were lost and the heroism of that day is by designating it as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Indeed, the spirit of this commemoration represents many of the same goals and ideals that we, as a University community, strive to instill in our students by teaching them the importance and value of service to the community. It is a meaningful, constructive message that appropriately honors the memory of those who were lost on that day, and one that I hope all of us will take to heart as we reflect on the events of ten years ago.

As part of the National Day of Service and Remembrance observance, the Institute for Sustainability is co-sponsoring a campus orange picking event on Sunday, September 11, to support local food pantries.

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Below are links to past messages and remarks by the President related to 9/11:

President Koester’s letter to the campus community about the September 11 tragedy (September 12, 2001):

President Koester’s remarks at the 9/11 Day of Remembrance event (September 14, 2001)

President Koester’s remarks at the 9/11 First Year Commemoration event (September 11, 2002)

Freshman Convocation and Matador Statue Unveiling

by Dr. Jolene Koester on September 7th, 2011 under Achievements, Alumni, Campus messages, Events, Faculty, Staff, Students

On Thursday, September 8, at 6 p.m., on the Oviatt Library Lawn, the campus will formally welcome its newest class of freshmen at the 2011 Freshman Convocation.

Begun in 2007, the annual ceremony is intended to instill Matador pride and spirit in our students and to confirm that they have made the right choice by attending Cal State Northridge.

As those of you who have attended the event in the past recall, the Freshman Convocation evokes commencement, with the campus leadership and faculty in attendance dressed in full academic regalia. The parallels are intentional—when students graduate, we hope they will recognize convocation and commencement as memorable bookends to their college experience.

Thursday’s Freshman Convocation keynote speaker is Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, this year’s Freshman Common Reading. All of us who have read Ms. Walls’ book found her story compelling and inspiring, so it will be a treat to hear her speak in person.

Freshman Convocation has become a grand tradition on campus that has played a key role in our efforts to invest our students in their education and make the goal of a degree attainable. I encourage all members of the campus community who play a role in educating and serving these exceptional young men and women to attend.

Matador Statue Unveiling

Preceding the Freshman Convocation at 5 p.m., the University will formally unveil the campus’ new Matador Statue at Matador Plaza, located between the Oviatt Library and the University Student Union. All alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends of the University are welcome to attend.

It’s entirely fitting to be unveiling this new tangible symbol of Cal State Northridge just prior to this year’s Freshman Convocation, which I noted above was partly established to encourage Matador pride.

The statue was made possible through the leadership of students, alumni and donors who were committed creating this tangible symbol of our University. As this suggests, Matador pride made the statue possible and I’m certain the statue will quickly become an iconic feature of the campus and its traditions. I look forward to joining with many of you on September 8 for the formal unveiling.

Students Return to Campus!

by Dr. Jolene Koester on August 30th, 2011 under Campus messages, Staff, Students

This week marks the start of the Fall 2011 semester. While the current heat wave reminds us that it’s still summer, the sudden influx of students on campus as they search for classrooms, buy their textbooks and seek assistance means that Cal State Northridge is back in full swing and focused on its mission to help students achieve their academic and long-range goals.

The start of a new academic year is a busy but exhilarating time and I always look forward to welcoming our new and returning students. Despite the myriad challenges faced by higher education today, as I proudly noted during my recent President’s Convocation address, Cal State Northridge’s commitment to promote the learning and growth of our students remains undimmed. We have the privilege of helping students become the next generation of leaders in their professions and communities, and instilling in them the same spirit of optimism, confidence and resourcefulness that exists among the faculty and staff on campus.

The coming weeks and months will be a busy time as we help students settle into their classes and become engaged with Cal State Northridge. On Thursday, September 1, we will have the Welcome Back Picnic, which will be followed by events like the Freshman Convocation on September 8. I look forward to highlighting these and other University events and accomplishments at this blog.

President’s Convocation Address Now Online

by Dr. Jolene Koester on August 30th, 2011 under Campus messages, Communications, Speeches

The President’s Convocation address from August 25, 2011, titled “California State University, Northridge: A Place of Abundance,”  is now online here.

Recognizing Faculty and Staff Excellence

by Dr. Jolene Koester on August 26th, 2011 under Achievements, Campus messages, Faculty, Staff

This past spring and early summer, I had the privilege to help host the Honored Faculty Reception and the Staff Service and Recognition of Excellence Event. These events have great meaning for me personally because they focus on the achievements and service of the faculty and staff who make this University shine through their commitment to the students and community we serve. As we begin a new academic year, I wanted to be sure I brought attention to these memorable events and to the people who were honored.

45th Annual Staff Service and Recognition of Excellence Event

The Annual Staff Service and Recognition of Excellence Event celebrates the exemplary service and achievements of faculty and staff. This year’s theme was “We Are One: Celebrating Collaboration, Connectivity, and Character.” The event recognized those who have served the University 5, 10, 15, and more years. Indeed, this year’s honorees included individuals who have served Cal State Northridge for 25, 30, 35, and 40 years! Everyone who was recognized deserves the thanks and appreciation of their colleagues for contributing to the excellence and strength of our institution.

The ceremony traditionally also includes merit award presentations, culminating with the Presidential Award and the Team Award. This year’s Presidential Award honoree was Professor Jerry Luedders for his accomplishments as music professor, department chair, assistant provost and, particularly, his work in helping to bring the Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge to fruition as the facility’s new associate executive director.

The Team Award went to the University-Wide Learning Management System Moodle Implementation Team, led by Dr. David Levin, Senior Director of Academic Technology from the Information Technology division. Dr. Levin led a cross-divisional team to make the complex and intensive transition to Moodle, a new learning management system, as smooth and seamless as possible.

Team Award honorees

My congratulations to Professor Luedders, Dr. Levin and the University-Wide Learning Management System Moodle Implementation Team, and all the honorees at the event for their well-earned recognitions. Their work exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and the high level of competence and professionalism that are hallmarks of the University.

Honored Faculty Reception

The 2011 Honored Faculty Reception was held on May 23, 2011. The event recognized new emeriti faculty and presented awards for excellence in the areas of Outstanding Faculty; Distinguished Teaching, Counseling, or Librarianship; Preeminent Scholarly Publication; Exceptional Creative Accomplishment; Extraordinary Service; and Visionary Community Service-Learning. Organized by the Faculty Senate, the annual event is an opportunity for the faculty to recognize and celebrate the achievements of their colleagues.

As University President, I am privileged to have the opportunity to co-sponsor the event and to join the Faculty President in bringing attention to the extraordinary people who engage in the teaching, scholarship and service that define the very mission of our University. As a member of the faculty myself, I know the hard work that is required to be a good teacher and scholar, and I always enjoy the opportunity to spend time with academic friends and colleagues.


These events were particularly significant to me this year because they are the last I will be participating in as this institution’s president. It was an opportunity for me to remind faculty and staff that they are the true heart and soul of the University, and that without their contributions and commitment, Cal State Northridge would not be the exceptional place it is. This is a message I will continue to impart in the coming months as I prepare to step down. Over the 11-plus years I have been privileged to lead this institution, the hard work and efforts of the faculty and staff on behalf of our students have made my job as the University’s “head cheerleader” easy to do and a true joy.

Below are photos from the Honored Faculty Reception.

Below are photos from the Staff Service and Recognition of Excellence Event.

Presidential Merit Award honoree