President Haynes Touts University Accomplishments, Asks Regional Leaders to Imagine the Possibilities
At a Thursday morning gathering of over 600 individuals representing a broad cross section of regional business, nonprofit, education and government leadership, Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes highlighted University accomplishments and trends, noting the role the 27-year-old institution plays in advancing the public good.
“In this time of cynicism and fear, public higher education becomes more important not only as an engine for economic growth, but as a catalyst for spurring individuals to innovation and optimism, empathy and understanding,” Haynes said. “Through higher education, we assure that we will have individuals who bring new perspectives to whatever issues we may face, trained as critical thinkers with a multicultural framework.”
In her 13th Annual Report to the Community address, “Imagine the Possibilities,” Haynes talked about innovative student learning practices and faculty who engage in solving real-world problems.
“The traditional model of higher education boxes learning within the four walls of a classroom or lecture hall,” she said. “But our model imagines what happens when students actively engage in the learning process through activities like internships, research and fieldwork, study abroad and community service.”
Among the students highlighted were Connor Leone, who helped build sustainable indoor gardens for K-12 classrooms as part of the service-learning component of his environmental sciences course; Chelsey Johnson, who spent her summer at CSUSM’s free speech-language-pathology clinic, providing speech therapy to stroke survivors and individuals with traumatic brain injuries; and Nam Ho, a computer science major who finished eighth out of nearly 900 entrants in a coding competition.
Haynes also noted the $14.6 million in research dollars recently awarded to faculty, including a $3 million award to train stem cell scientists; a $2.5 million grant to support dual-language teachers; and a $1 million grant to increase the number of American Indians nurses.
The University is preparing to launch its first engineering programs with a $6 million, five-year grant, but Haynes said that private support is vital, mentioning the University is reaching out to industry partners and philanthropists to secure sustainable funding.
Among the accolades and awards, Haynes also dug into the myriad ways that Cal State San Marcos serves its growing population of over 15,000 students. For example, the Alliance to Accelerate Excellence in Education has accepted nearly 1,000 students from 10 partner school districts. Among them is Jesus Perez, a first-generation college student majoring in applied physics who recently returned from a prestigious 16-week internship with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
“We inspire our students to achieve their dreams of a better life for themselves and their families,” said Haynes.
Despite CSUSM’s growth and advancements, a lack of funding may damper future prospects.
“Reducing academic quality, turning students away and charging higher tuition are all distasteful and largely unacceptable not just for us, but for our region and our state,” Haynes emphasized. “The only real guaranteed return on the state’s investment is in funding education as it assuredly creates an educated workforce that generates revenue for California.”
In response to insufficient public funding, Cal State San Marcos launched a major fundraising campaign in 2015. To date, 66 percent of the $50 million goal has been raised. In her remarks, Haynes highlighted donors who have given to scholarships, programs, athletics and the arts, including the 550 individuals who donated over $170,000 in 24 hours on CSUSM Giving Day.
“I know that the antidotes to the cynicism and fear of our day are right here: optimism, curiosity and innovation fueled by education, research and partnerships,” concluded Haynes. “Imagine how we can continue to redefine what higher education can be. Imagine a region fueled by the accelerated pace of this University! If we can dream it, we can make it happen. Ahead of us lies anything we choose, constrained only by our ability to ‘imagine the possibilities.’”
Read President Haynes's full remarks or watch her recap video below.