Dear Golden Eagle Family:
Happy New Year! I’m so thrilled to finally be here on campus as your president. Since September when the CSU Board of Trustees announced my appointment, you have been in my thoughts, plans, and heart. Today marks Day One of an exciting new chapter where we innovate and create new initiatives, all while respecting and building on the lessons and successes of the presidents who came before me and their tremendous contributions to the Cal State LA story. I’m especially grateful to Interim President Leroy M. Morishita for his leadership over the last six months. Thus, while a new chapter begins today, we are not starting with a blank page. We’ll build on a tradition of excellence and we will fortify, expand, and evolve together.
When I visited you twice before my official start day, I shared my passion for student-centered leadership. Students are at the core of what we do and why we do it. You will get to know me, as I am a very present and active leader. Whether it is stopping by a classroom to say hello, attending Academic Senate meetings, or cheering on the Golden Eagles at championship volleyball games, I will be your partner in success.
To be ranked number one in the nation for upward mobility is an outstanding recognition of what we accomplish every day at our University. This ranking is a reflection of your hard work and commitment over the years. It’s a reflection of a generational commitment to transforming the lives of our students. It is a reflection of our students’ talents and tenacity. And I see it as a predictor of our future. Cal State LA has already achieved this incredible distinction; what else can we achieve that will benefit our students as we plan, collaborate, commit, and work collectively? This is an exhilarating question.
Importantly, what we accomplish together has an impact beyond our campus. Cal State LA has a long history of being deeply involved with the community. This tradition of engagement is what earned our University distinction as an anchor institution recognized by the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities. Our presence has made a difference not only in the lives of our students, but in the life of the community. And as we think about how we serve our students better, we must consider how we serve their communities, the places they call home. How can we be good stewards of place, as the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) defines it? We can, as AASCU suggests, recommit to the principles and values that make for healthy, mutually beneficial relationships: connection to place, reciprocity, symbiotic and synergistic relationships, adaptability, diversity of approaches, civic engagement, upward mobility and opportunity, and institutional intentionality.
As we begin to examine where we are and map out a plan for our future, it’s important to look at where we’ve come from in order to consider where we’re headed. When I first met you all during a reception on the Luckman Street of the Arts, I talked about telling the story of our University.
This story cannot be told without your insights and ideas. I want to hear from all of you—students, faculty, and staff. That’s why I’m planning to launch 100 Days of Listening and inviting you to share your thoughts. There will be town halls open to everyone, as well as 20-minute one-on-one meetings with me. I’ll share more about this opportunity in the days ahead.
I see my 100 Days of Listening as a time for Golden Eagles to reflect on who we are as a community. What are you proud of? What makes us distinct? What do we do well? This is also a time to share your thoughts on who we hope to be. How can we do more? Meet more needs? Grow in new directions? Your thoughts on how we get there are important to me and to this process. What are the challenges to our progress? How do we overcome them? We will roll up our sleeves together to do the work necessary to continue to achieve and exceed greatness.
What you share during the 100 Days of Listening tour is inherently fundamental to how we collectively move forward. At the end of the listening tour, the community will be able to “hear” what I’ve heard. I’ll provide a synopsis or summation of the conversations. I anticipate, that through this process, our community will be poised to kick off our work to create a new University Strategic Plan. We’ll talk more about those plans later.
During my first 100 days I’ll also spend time introducing myself to the city. You’ll see me here on campus and at places in the community. Every place I go, I represent the University. Whether I’m meeting people at City Hall or at a local non-profit, I’ll share our story of the life-changing work that happens here on campus.
I’m grateful to all of you for your warm welcomes, for sharing your ideas, hopes, and concerns. I’m honored to begin this new year and this new chapter with you. We’ve got a lot to do; I’m energized, excited, and ready! I hope you are, too.
Berenecea Johnson Eanes
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.