CSUDH – Fall 2018 Convocation (California State University, Dominguez Hills)

September 22, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


so I want to start by welcoming you to
the fall 2018 convocation can I hear some applause my name is Michael Spagna
and I serve as the provost and the vice president for academic affairs here at
Cal State Dominguez Hills and it’s my pleasure to serve today as you were
emcee for the event to start off at this university I want to welcome everyone
here today and particularly I want to welcome all of our new faculty staff and
students could we please have them rise if your new faculty staff or students to
the Toro community stand longer you got to stand longer it’s got it we have to
applaud until it hurts okay so thank you please be seated in order to really be
recognized as members of the Dominguez Hills family we have to make sure you
learn something coming and we don’t have a secret handshake but we do have a
certain symbol that we use to represent the Toros so and I will say I’m really
happy to be able to demonstrate this for you today because I’ve seen some people
kind of go all over the map with it and I checked out with our leadership so we
do have a Toro with the horns of the Toro right so like this right so I want
everybody just to demonstrate that I’m doing it in 3d so you can see it because
I’ve seen some people doing some Texas Longhorns I’ve been seeing some things
from fingerspelling in ASL so it’s like this and Christian made sure I let you
know also it’s not a straight snap it’s got to be a curves now so if you are
going to proudly represent the Toro nation you need to do this and compared
to some of our other sister CSU’s I won’t cast aspersions but there’s one to
the north of us where their symbol is this so so I would rather have this than
this okay we are underway with our Fall Convocation program it
my opportunity and our opportunity as a community to come together to welcome
you to this academic year you are going to hear from our ASI president today our
Academic Senate chair will provide greetings and vision for this upcoming
year and as we have just welcomed new members of this community we are also
welcoming our new president Thomas parem Thomas please stand
where’s but before we begin all of that we have a special video we want to show
about some highlights exciting highlights of what’s happening here on
campus so we’re gonna cross our fingers and cue the video morning everybody nice
to see you excited about getting started and about the possibilities that we’re
gonna create here Cal State University Dominguez Hills I need to have that soundtrack that’ll
get me going every morning so I also want to as we start the program I want
to make sure that I give a little disclaimer here because one of my
colleagues during the freshman convocation made the statement to all of
our incoming freshmen to take on don’t take on the Provost in a dance contest
because you will lose and I’ve had students come up to me and start kind of
doing this so the only disclaimer is I need 24 hours to prepare and I need to
know whether it’s flamenco or other types of dancing so I can master that it
is now my pleasure to introduce dr. Laura tell amante who is currently
serving her second years the chair of the Academic Senate as Senate chair she
represents CSU d-h faculty on campus system-wide and serves as liaison with
the presidents and Provost’s offices supporting the university’s mission
goals curriculum and shared governance Laura’s been a member of the history
department for 12 years that deserves applause in terms of her support teaching courses in French and women’s
history and last year the university was very proud to present her with the
excellence and service award without further ado please join me in welcoming
her to the podium well good morning when OCS Bonjour and
we could go on but that’s probably the extent of my language skills so let me
just start by saying that I am so pleased to be here today this is a
campus that I love dearly I love all of you and for everything that you bring to
our campus and that you take out into the community so I want to just take a
moment well first again another special welcome
to our new president Thomas Parham here and to our new students and our new
staff and our new faculty and other administrators I want to talk about a
freshman that I met at convocation I was trying to take a chance afterwards just
to check in with folks and see how the experience had been and it was really
very positive and one student told me about his Summer Bridge experience so
coming in in the summer I’m taking a class to jumpstart the semester learning
the campus right meeting all kinds of new people and he said you know it was
really once he reached out and got tutoring that that was a turning point
for him in the summer and that made all the difference in his success and that
from there he’d gone on to meet other people and was going to get a job on
campus and he just felt already so embedded in the community and I just
asked him and I hope he’ll remember to tell other people that experience right
because it’s really hard I think for many of us to reach out and seek help
but I’m going to tell you that one of the best things I’ve learned in life is
to ask for help right we all need it at various times and that’s what we are as
a community right we’re here to support to bear witness to one another’s success
right to honor each other’s humanity and that is part of our Toro PI part of
Arturo nation and what we take back out into the world so none of us are going
to get through this life alone and it’s much much better with the support of
people who you know have your back at various times and that’s for all of us
right students staff faculty administrators we all need to remember
that it’s okay to reach out and ask for help so I want to just also say that you
know as a campus we really have been growing and there are people here
working all year long and we have faculty who while they are off in summer
in fact what that means is that they’re traveling they’re doing research
they’re networking out in you know though the world really right not just
California not just the United States but all parts of the world can I have
some hands for people who traveled out of the country over the summer as part
of their work experiences right myself included and so you know we really are a
Toro nation okay and our students were out there traveling in the world too and
so I just want to say that thank you all for what you did over the summer to get
us here to this moment to move us forward keep us inspired keep our
passion alive this is so so important and for new students I just want you to
know that you are really you know you can I think already tell even from the
video I thought what more can I say right that really kind of encapsulates
at all this is a really special community and you’re gonna be working
with and the most passionate dedicated and remarkable individuals yourselves
included right so let’s just give each other a round of applause just for that
right there and I I want you to know and remember it’s because of the work that
each staff member faculty member and administrator puts in day after day week
after week and year after year that our students have the opportunity to do
amazing work here on campus and out in the community right so we are building
that toro nation and this helps to bond us as a community for me that’s part of
my personal vision that I try to work on in the class
that we are a community that we rise or fall based on what we bring together in
that community that we’re not just individuals right sort of coming here
having that individual experience and then melting away at the end of the day
and so I want you to just feel that when you walk across campus when people you
don’t know say hello to you when you know you just have that sense of like oh
I I’m kind of part of something but I’m not sure what it is yet
reach out start to figure that out be involved and I want to say that that
advice I think goes for everybody and you know we give it to students step out
of your comfort zone but we need to give it to ourselves too right we need to
work across our units on campus work across our divisions on campus and we’re
already doing that and the more that we do that the stronger we are and so part
of the message of an academic senate chair is to think about shared
governance right and community is part of shared governance so we have our
Associated Students incorporated president Christian Jackson he’ll speak
to you in a moment that’s part of shared governance right represented student
voice so how many students out there know that you have representatives for
your voice you got to raise your hands because you know now right oh thank you
so and that um you know it’s that working together that is going to take
us to that next level in this rising future this rising tide that we are on
so I want everybody everybody here today to think about how you can take
advantage of our campus life join our community outside the classroom or the
office right we’re going to do that today when we have lunch afterwards so
that’s one of those practicing moments right to join the community and I think
that your your work and your educational experiences will be elevated it’s these
are going to be the people that help you through the ups and downs of life all of
us as a community and so students gain that leadership experience join clubs
pick ones that have meaning to you take an active role in designing your future
right this is the moment in your life where you are making decisions to propel
you to your future goals and aspirations and it starts with you not others
telling you what to do but assisting you to get to the place that you want so
remember that you need to reach out right and be part of what helps people
propel forward reach their aspirations and dreams and that’s for all of us
staff right faculty and administrators we also need to be reaching out for one
another opening doors and the thing that I want to just emphasize here is that as
a growing campus we’re also facing challenges right we have our second year
of the biggest incoming freshman class ever
right also our second year of the biggest graduating class ever and we
have our wonderful transfer students who are helping to grow the student body but
we’re also going to see buildings coming down we have like two first-class 21st
century educational buildings coming up but that’s going to be a lot of
sacrifices and a lot of people are already thinking about that worrying
about that but it means that we also have to remember to talk to one another
right to reach out for help with the challenges that were experiencing to
assume that there are people who want to help us get through those challenges and
just to remember that bond as a community and then finally I also want
to say that you know we’re all gonna have moments of bureaucratic frustration
does everybody know what I’m talking about that’s just life right and that’s
certainly part of campus life as most of us know very well so again remember to
open doors for one another don’t shut them if you don’t have the answer to the
question let the person know that you’ll find out who does right and then I hope
that we just remember to thank one another along the way often right in in
small ways and in large ways so I want you to remember to appreciate the hard
work that goes on behind the scenes our custodians facilities management
landscaping parking attendants students who keep an eye on the parking lots in
the evening to help keep us safe our folks in the financial aid office
admissions and kurz advising community service learning
in internships student affairs academic affairs instructional technology our
Dean’s and faculty librarians are associated students our folks who reach
out into the community write work with our alumni and work with the people who
want to help build our our campus footprint and our print into the
community and the nation and so beyond that we’ve got our students in the
classroom the ones who are leaders in our organizations and clubs and of
course the faculty who are part of all of those efforts so I just want to say
that I’m so excited for this year and to be working with you all and representing
and the campus as Academic Senate chair and just welcome to the beginning of
another great academic year so laura has been an excellent partner and we are
looking forward to another year of stellar leadership and working closely
with her so thank you Laura thank you for your leadership now I have the honor
of introducing a young man that we’re equally excited of working with and I
have to tell you that I think he is studying the area of cybersecurity so
that if you are at the luncheon after this event and you want to seem like you
automatically are knowledgeable go up to them and ask what’s the difference
between wailing spoofing and spear phishing and I think he can I think I
can help you with these I have to live with this Christian with my wife who’s
in cybersecurity and so whenever our 16 year olds in front of the computer I
have to kind of edge my wife out of the way and say there’s nothing to see here
and I whispered to my daughter what are you doing so ok Associated Students
incorporated works in partnership with the administration faculty and staff
providing input to assist in improving the quality of student life here at Cal
State Dominguez Hills the overall goal is to inform and influence campus
governance to the needs and voice of our student population leading this very
important effort in ASI is your president for this year
mr. Christian Jackson Christian is a junior studying computer
science with an interest in cybersecurity please join me in a warm
welcome for Christian Jackson to the podium hello so I would like to first start off
by welcoming the new faculty and staff to this campus I’m happy you chose to
invest in our torille nation to both new as well as the returning faculty and
staff I know that this would be a great year with the reinvigorated passion you
carry with you after the break and under the new leadership of our university
president dr. Thomas Parham we are destined to move on to greater heights
I believe everybody serves a purpose both in in this world and on this campus
faculty and staff you are the lifeblood that helps keep this campus up and
running and looking as beautiful as it always does and I bring with me the
students appreciation for your efforts Associated Students incorporated is a
student body girlfriend on campus and we serve as the official student voice we
also live by our three core values which are to leadership student growth and
advocacy in my two years in ASI it has given me a greater sense of what I enjoy
doing being engaged in shared governance practices and advocating for students
both on our campus and at the CSU system level it has helped me realize that the
greater satisfaction can sometimes come by bettering the lives of those around
you there are many definitions and ideologies behind leadership but through
my growth and ASI it has helped highlight the benefits of being a
servant leader ASI president act for role in student advocacy and I want to
make sure that this year I’m finding a way to maximize the advocacy through
receiving the most student input and engagement that I possibly can increase
increasing ASI visibility and approachability as one of our main goals
for this academic year we want to find a way to be able to reach those students
to only come to class and then go home we accepted and knowledge the fact that
a lot of our students have to work and are subject to a lot of unique
responsibilities but of all those students that directly leave after class
some of them are missing information on things that may be of interest to them
and reward them and students faculty and staff we have
to recognize that every moment and student passes up on an opportunity to
engage this campus and one of the many resources it provides is an opportunity
lost with the potential leadership and self growth stopping students and
holding their attention for even an hour longer week will be a step in
alleviating those pimple interactions that our president refers to and say
it’s our president I am leading efforts with an ASI to work towards this task
however in order for us to fully operate as an efficient group will eat the help
of d-h faculty and staff while the faculty and staff are the lifeblood of D
H we students are the heart students should be this campus is greatest
priority as we continue to improve the culture of Dominguez Hills it will be a
group effort between students faculty and staff one small way faculty and
staff can help this year is to really emphasize toil Tuesday for years ASI has
hosted tour Tuesday to build campus spirit and interactions with ASI every
Tuesday please wear your D H gear and encourage your students to also wear th
gear if these students come into the ASI office on Tuesday with the rural gear
they can win prizes and ultimately a scholarship but more importantly they
can engage with their student government office and learns to learn ways to
participate in shared governance practices my hope is for students to
walk in the si office and walk out with an understanding of what a site actually
is and how it can be of benefit to them in their academic journey I thank you
for your time and ask you to embark on this challenge with us very impressive Kristian thank you so
it’s now my opportunity to welcome a new chapter into our history on campus and
it’s welcoming our 11th President Thomas parem now I have some scripted remarks
here so I’m turning these over and I’m going to share with you that for me
always a measure of the person’s character is what she or he does when no
one’s looking and I want to share just briefly with you a window into the
integrity and the spirit of the person I’m about to introduce over the summer
we had a cabinet retreat off campus and at the cabinet retreat we had dinner one
of the evenings and there was the person that was there that was showing us to
our table and I said oh she noticed the Dominguez Hills t-shirt and she said oh
do you go to Dominguez Hills I said well we’re we work at Dominguez Hills she
said oh I’m a student I said well did you graduate and she said yeah I just
graduated but I couldn’t walk through commencement this past May so I said we
can correct that right now so I got the president we gathered together we took a
dinner menu I had her put her hand on the dinner menu and the man I’m about to
introduce said with the power vested in me I confer this and all the people in
the restaurant were like looking and clapping around this and this is a
measure of a man who first and foremost is about students
please welcome we are honored to have our eleventh president Thomas farm to
the stage let me say good morning let me say good
morning to those in the back good morning the last line of that video you saw our
communications team put together it’s from convocation and I invited all
the students to stand up because part of being a Toro in this space we call Cal
State University Dominguez Hills it’s being able to create a sense of
belonging for everybody that’s here belong there are a lot of our students
who have intellectual potential too aligned with the academic genius that is
represented by this faculty but as soon as they struggle for some who’ve never
gotten a see before for some who have never failed a test for some who do
whatever they walk up and then they start to question whether they even
belong in a magnificent institution like this so we invited them to say there’s a
new mantra in town and it is called and I want everybody in the room to repeat
after me good day Toro citizen that’s so weak I got guests in the house
and they like I told the turtle nation ready to roll
good day Turo citizen I respect your humanity and I bear witness to your
success just imagine if we could walk up and down these aisles every day and
every student we saw untouched heard somebody say good day Toro citizen I
respect your humanity and I bear witness to your success just imagine what that
does to that spirit y’all feelin me good morning so it’s my pleasure to join
all of you this morning as the eleventh president of California State University
Dominguez Hills and on behalf of your new first partner my spouse Tavita
Hopkins for him and I I want to say how blessed and honored we feel to be
joining California State University Dominguez Hills and the Toro family at
this particular space in time I want to extend to each of you my sincerest
thanks and appreciation for all the congratulatory notes for all the well
wishes for all the prayers as you welcome to be denied to this right space
with affirm and emotion filled embrace we appreciate please say good morning to
your new first partner my partner our first lady Davina Hopkins for him now there may be those of you who are
wondering about your new president and what is it that lies beneath the
academic degrees and awards and scholarships and publication the
administrator and clinical experience the pictures you may have seen the
videos you may have watched other things you may have read well please understand
that I recognize that there’s an important distinction between what you
do for a living and who you are at the core of your being I want you to know I
recognize that difference please understand Who I am at the core of my
being I’m a product of a single-parent household growing up with my mom and
three siblings in Los Angeles indeed I am Sadie and William Parr hams
son I am Pamela William and Gerald’s brother I am the Vitas husband I am the
father to two lovely and bright and grown and feminist women daughters Kenya
and Tanya I am a friend to selected men and women who share my extended family
space and a strong man in my community committed to making this community
better this nation and the world a much better place that is Who I am at the
core of my being and understand what you clap for here
because I grew up amid the social circumstance that predicted a trajectory
for me like so many of us of being less than promising raised by a single parent
who in the 32 years she worked for the government never earned more than about
$18,000 a year got two sons with PhDs third college-educated
nobody on drugs nobody in jail and nobody in the gang how do you do it that
circumstance introduced us to a situation that would classify us as
working poor my mom was a Cost Accountant working for the government
was a master with number and figures and yet despite the training she had to
provide to college-educated young men who she had to train to do their jobs
she was thanked with certificates of Merit while they were promoted to super
grades of nine 11 and 13 in gs series and the government indeed I’ve always
been keenly sensitive to issues of gender and race and equity in this world
that comes out of who I am at the core of my being and the trajectory for me
was never a certainty and yet there is no mathematical formula or probability
statistic that could accurately calculate potential or really predict
with any measure of accuracy the heart I was blessed with the commitment to
persevere through the adversities in life that I had to employ the the spirit
and life force that connects me to an ancestral cultural energy and rhythm and
that frames the legacy that I’ve been blessed to be a part of nor could it
predict the amount of grace that God would bestow on me that
helps me arrive at this particular point in time I suspect the same is true for
many of our students who traverse the landscape of our campus every day indeed
my title is president but hopefully you will also see the substance behind the
man who now occupies the seat of authority as the 11th chief executive of
this campus matters who you applaud this moment you see I love being a part of
this turtle nation and I’ve embraced this historic legacy a historic legacy
of a campus that from its roots in South Bay South Bay State College to the
relocation and transformation after the Watts rebellion of an educational
institution that would serve as a gateway of opportunity in a vehicle of
social and upward mobility for the residents of the urban core of South
Central Los Angeles see the privilege of serving in this role is not a job it’s a
calling let me say that again this is not a job as the president this is a
calling it’s a battle calling one must be called to engage in social justice
roots of this campus one must be called to join with this illustrious faculty in
educating our students and help them interrogate new ideas and discover new
possibilities and learn new theories and constructs and be mentored and inspired
to create the latest innovations yes faculty one must be called to join
with the staff to provide services that support students and navigating the
pathways the productivity and success and those staff that ensure that our
facilities are beautified and maintained and our grounds reflect real pride in
the character of what a comprehensive regional university should look like and
all the people in the staff who are committed to just serving our students
one must be called to want to join California State University system with
23 campuses the largest system of public higher education in this nation we take
a back seat to nobody in the sea so when you see that passion just ooze
and now you see me salivating at the thought of coming to work every day know
that I have been called to this mission and together with you we’re about to
make some magic right and build on what we’ve been doing for decades now I’ve
also embraced the Toro mascot I want you to know that oh no don’t get it twisted
though so let me try to go from the surface structure to the beach structure
it’s not a right dr. Franklin because in reflecting on the meaning and
the symbol of the Toro I am drawn not to worshipping the animal but rather to the
qualities and characteristics that embody the spiritual essence of that
Toro bull let’s think about this a minute let me make it clear
see the Toro is a Spanish bull yes but a Toro is a bull that is a symbol of power
and a symbol of strength and regal ‘no sand presence and virility and
stubbornness it’s not the animal we worship but rather the creature whose
qualities we should seek to emulate in the context of this campus culture and
activity what does it mean to be a Toro its virility I’m talking virility here
it represents our institutional power to create and regenerate so that what we
ask ourselves what are we prepared to create that’s what Toros do if we’re
gonna be the bull then represent the bull its strength illustrates the
backbone the courage the durability that we must show in engaging the academic
enterprise how strong are we prepared to be the
regal quality the regal quality suggested we should become masters of
our own fate and not simply wait or depend on others to do for us what we
can you for ourselves that’s what bulls do
what are we prepared to invest in our future is the question what sacrifices
are we prepared to make in order to make sure right that we adhere to right what
is the best for this institution and generations to come
what does a Toro bull Toro bull is stubborn as hell but that stubbornness
that quality illustrates our level of determination and unwavering commitment
and a willingness to persevere through whatever adversities might come our way
bu administration faculty staff and especially students how do we help our
students persist and retain their focus and presence on campus and continuous
steady march toward graduation in four or five years
that’s how stubborn we want them to be that is what it means to be a Toro these
should be the qualities we should be teaching our students and these are the
qualities along with the magnificent academic and co-curricular resources
that would help us continue to address issues of persistence and retention of
our students do you agree with me everybody agree with me that’s what it
means to be a Toro in this nation we don’t worship animals we worship the
qualities that they embody and we seek to not just look at turtles we want to
be Toros be strong be powerful beat barrel be persistent be stubborn but be
stubborn in all the right ways they’re gonna help our students elevate so that
they become masters of their own fate that’s what it means to be part of this
toro nation now one of my heroes was dr. Martin Luther King and King argued
persuasively in a sermon that was entitled to drum major instinct he
argued for a new definition of greatness because he said everybody could be great
because everybody could serve Barbara Jordan Fame congresswoman in
one-time presidential candidate was fond of saying then it’s a privilege to serve
a privilege that must be earned and once earned it is your responsibilities to do
something with it I come to you as a servant leader to
serve this campus in my hope is that my commitment to be a servant leader will
invite each of you in respective of your role on campus to join me in serving
this magnificent institution and serve each other and serve each other because
each of us has to engage in the issues that higher education confronts us with
indeed we are one of twenty three campuses in the California State
University system privileged to educate over four hundred and ninety thousand
students four hundred and ninety thousand of them that is the biggest
system of public higher education in the nation
and as I’ve said to you before there is no greater blessing in life next to
being a parent than being entrusted with the personal and intellectual growth and
development of these students that are on our campuses that’s how we do it in
the torille nation and if you think about that and we provide them with the
academic right research and the co-curricular excellence and the
teaching in the classroom right and access to one of the other 22 campuses
that exist in the Cal State System that is really what we come to serve we come
to serve their dreams and aspirations we come to help write invite them to be all
they can be in the context of all that work we come to prepare tomorrow’s
workforce so that no corporation outside should be going anywhere other than Cal
State University Dominguez Hills to get its workforce why because we are
prepared to train the next generation of not only workforce but workforce leaders
who are prepared to take their rightful place of rulership and mastery over this
world that’s what we want to do within this
turtle nation now I should say that in addition to the five days of individual
orientation and conversations in my transition meetings I had between the
time I was appointed in May and what the end of June I’ve now been on campus some
67 days 67 days and those days and weeks have been facilitated by tremendous
support from former president Willie Hagan and this entire staff and that’s
allowed me to scan the campus and to take a picture to take a quick snapshot
of this university’s history and its people
so when taking this picture right and everybody kind of do this for me just
this look at what you can see in this frame right as we think about taking a
picture you cannot take a picture as I start my new administration without
recognizing and thanking our former president Willie J Hagan for the
marvelous job he did they’re stored in the future people give it up for Willie
Hagan and see that image that I see that
picture I’ve taken reveals a portrait of opportunities and an equal number of
challenges as chair Telamon C pointed out on the opportunity side what do I
see I see six schools or academic units arts and humanities business and public
policy education natural and behavioral sciences Health Human Services and
nursing extended education and a magnificent library that I would put up
against anybody’s right I see some 16,000 plus students more than 700
faculty an equal number of staff and administrators each of us committed to
facilitating the personal and intellectual growth and development of
these precious students we have on our campus
I see inspiring points of distinction that our source of tremendous
institutional pride just look at how Dominguez Hills is glowing these days
when I walk in and took that snapshot I walked into an accreditation body who
recently awarded California State University a full not six not eight but
ten years accreditation that’s a gold standard right I walked in and looked at a faculty
distinguishing themselves with the intellectual and scholarly contributions
I walked into looking at named gifts one of the largest and first faculty bequest
that will endow our first chair in global and comparative politics I walk
in and when you see me walking around the campus I try to do that about a
half-hour hour every day just to get out and meet folk and look at buildings but
I always bear witness to my new science building right and that new science and
innovation building that is dotting our horizon will transform both the academic
infrastructure of this campus and the field of the aesthetic ambience of the
place remember I say it is the outer garment that best adorns the inner
beauty of the person let me say that again it is the outer garment that best
adorns the inner beauty of the person so when you walk into a campus and you see
the new science buildings going up when you look at the new innovation
instruction building going up when you look at the plans for the new residence
halls coming up it is the outer beauty that best adorns the inner beauty of
what’s inside this campus why does that picture look bright it’s because right
the LA 2050 challenge grant of war that now allows us to take a magnificent
program that empowers teachers to empower students and scale up to impact
greater segments of the k-12 workforce why aren’t we glowing record numbers of
students enrolling in our campus why are we going million dollar allocations that
come from the state legislature to facilitate a legislative caucus to
support a sinner named after a famed state legislator why am i glowing
we have students are reading the Dominguez Hills magazine Dominguez today
that is civically engaged in helping their communities to undergraduate
research programs and opportunities to assist both students and faculty in that
why am i glowing I see staff dedicated to providing
students with the best services and areas of mental health and disability
support and undocumented assistance and health care and career advice and
internships and placement and financial aid in facilities and main
and much more I see lots of total pride here and most recently we were all
treated to Money Magazine Money Magazine looked at seven hundred and twenty seven
campuses across this nation and decided what was the best return on investment
you could have in public higher education in this whole nation and
private education by the way wasn’t just public 727 of them and Dominguez Hills
is number 45 number 45 what a tremendous breadth and depth of
resources that characterize this institution substance indeed there’s
much to be proud of as we celebrate this place we call the turtle nation yes got
a lot to be proud of that’s what we’re looking at but in my work as a
psychologist I stylized a piece of wisdom in my scholarship and writing and
it simply says that that life at its best is a creative synthesis of
opposites in fruitful harmony let me say that again it says life at its best is a
creative synthesis of opposites in through four harmony has a lot of
different meanings but one of them is this sometimes our greatest strengths
can also be our greatest weakness sometimes our greatest weakness our
greatest strengths swallow that snapshot right of the campus our previously
outline creates a portrait of University that is glowing in its own image and
right with possibilities I also want to remind us that whenever one takes a
picture there is always more outside of the frame then one can ever hope to
capture within it so I’ll hope today as we have a symbol to engage in this
convocation ritual to help each of you faculty staff administration students
academic senate student by the elected officers retired annuitants union
officials executive administration we have our queen mothers present with us
today we had everybody in the community gathered around for this convocation
ritual a hotel if you see and imagine other elements of campus life and
culture that exist outside of that frame that demand not simply our awareness but
our commitment and Purpose Driven intentionality to elevate our game as
toros and we got to realize the full measure of our promise and possibility
as a campus of the California State University system see beyond embracing
the legacy of the turtle nation and the mascot of the Toro bull I stand before
you today prepared to embrace the principle we call the alchemical process
of human transformation toward perfectibility
it’s a fancy way of saying we beat in the moment but while we beat we are
always in the state of becoming mo bettah we want to be
mo better but being mo better requires that I bring to the table the spirit of
imagination and invite all of you to imagine with me right it’s good to dream
sometime y’all like dreaming sometime come on dream with me right you see
imagination imagination it’s that that mental process that we form creations of
visions of possibility and potential imagination focuses less on what is and
instead on what could be it’s less about the comfort of one’s immediate reach and
more about the unsteadiness of one’s grasp as we look beyond what is
convenient and what one thinks is possible
it focuses less on the 8 out of 10 reasons why we can’t get something done
and instead focuses on the 2 out of 10 why we can I need you to dream with me I
grasp for the possible and not just the predictable and so I imagine I want you
to imagine with me an institutional culture that could understand if it has
been conceptually incarcerated so that it could unlock the shackles that keep
it from maximizing its potential I mean just imagine a campus that could
discover that we are more than the sum total of what a system decides that it
wants to relegate us to receive and instead to dream about what we all
deserve right if only we allow ourselves to dream I don’t want us to settle for
what has traditionally been the case that’s just us at Dominguez Hills I want
us to dream about what’s possible and what we deserve I mean just imagine a
new metric because I’m looking at metrics here talking about we’re gonna
help our students try to get to this plateau right of 30 and 40 and 50%
imagine a new metric were despite the high percentages that
we embrace we have high underrepresented minority students we have high Pell
eligible students means we’ve got a lot of students who are economically
challenged in their families we have a high first-generation population and
even though we talk about in frame this is kind of developmental needs we have a
high degree of students who are need at some level of remediation in terms of
their academics that’s what education is supposed to do as I’ve said to you
before right I’ve been in institutions where we set records with a hundred
seventeen thousand applications for 4420 freshmen spots and average GPA is were
4.2 that’s the top 1% of the normal curve but if we don’t spend our time in
the turul nation see what I want I want the 1.9 student who could be a two five
I want two to five who could be a three oh I want the three who could be a three
six going to a doctoral program someplace we’re just a little bit of
care and nurturance in love and support and that’s why I want to say good
morning thorough citizen I respect your humanity and I bear
witness to your success because if I can see the success in them then maybe they
will what begin to see it in themselves say I dream about this I want you to
imagine a metric where we can bust through a 50 percent graduation rate to
achieve levels hear me now of sixty percent and maybe even 70 percent why
can’t we why can’t we see I think our students are that bright
I think our faculty are that brilliant and capable why because I’ve seen it
even in my first 67 days I’ve seen it but I don’t know that we all believe it
yet in my job in leading this orchestra with all the Magnificent instruments you
play is to make sure that everybody sees that same vision
just imagine new and innovation interdisciplinary academic programs that
excite the passion and potential for students that also in line with the
needs and demands of the greater career marketplace and workforce
so that everybody’s coming to the turo nation to get the students we graduate
just imagine imagine growth on our faculty we’re new scholars will be
recruited and hired to join more experienced colleagues help us enhance
already strong academic departments and maybe even sharp ones that could use
some attention include an attention to our tenured density issue that has to
change it has to not just change a little bit it has to change a lot even
if we have to almost flip it on its head right
we need full-time faculty here so we can engage students in the most meaningful
way so that we can help them not have what you call right the pin ball style
interactions where they just come to a class a class get to local Union for a
sandwich and then they head and out home we need to keep them on cameras but we
need full-time people to help us do that y’all feeling me on that I mean just imagine the knowledge and
the discoveries we generate could be more than just bragging pride points and
in addition be leveraged to truly demonstrate why and how the information
we produce at this campus make a fundamental difference in the lives of
the people outside of these institutional walls and boundaries I
don’t want us to just know we’re that good
I want the whole public to know why what we teach and research in the discoveries
that we make matter to them outside and if they don’t know that we aren’t doing
our job well enough that’s the kind of support that we will need from the
public I mean just imagine I imagine a physical plant where new buildings will
replace old crumbling infrastructure and what can be repaired will be repaired I
imagine a commuter campus that needs to transform exponentially into a
residential one I imagine academic rankings becoming so impressive that
outside world looks at Cal State University Dominguez Hills right to say
that we want more the folk outside that this is their destination campus and
they put everybody else aside to be able to walk and get some of what we are
giving out at this place I mean just imagine a campus culture that fully
commits to empowering all students in recognizing that circumstances are
places students come from but not who they are at the core there being let me
say that again circumstances are places students come from but it is not who
they are at the core of their being our students may come from poverty but their
spirits are still rich they may come from violence around these but they can
still have peaceful hearts they may have performed poorly on a test of being
educated in less-than-ideal schools but they still have the insatiable thirst
for intellectual engagement that forces them to tap into the full measure of
their own intellectual capacity and creative genius they may even come from
affluent or privileged backgrounds wherever those places may be
but still have never known the comfort of a caring and nurturing faculty or
mentor who could guide them on their own pathway to success see irrespective of
their particular station in life I want you to know and all of us to know
there’s circumstances of places our students come from it is not who they
are at the core there being y’all believe that with me see I imagine a
student community I’ve talked to Christian about this already and a
faculty and staff who support them that transforms queries of what is it going
to cost us and what we can’t afford I want to transform that into statements
like what are we prepared to invest in our future and the future of generations
to come after us who might benefit from the gifts that we might leave I mean
just imagine students who would benefit from new recreation center do you think
our students deserve new health and wellness and recreation centers you
think our students need the sports stuff expanded technological right
sophistication in ways that facilitate their access to try to close the gap
that chris tells me by this digital divide that is created you think our
students don’t deserve that they can have that if they’re only willing to
invest in their future and the future of their peers indeed the great Algeria is
a contrast France renowned reminds us clearly when he wrote that each
generation out of relative obscurity must reach out and seek to fulfill its
legacy or betray it the question is what is this current generation of students
prepared to do to fulfill its legacy and create a legacy for the generations to
come after them that’s the question what are we prepared to invest in our future
let me just imagine an expanded donor base where our philanthropic support
reaches new levels of giving but only if we are prepared to invest in ourselves
as much as we ask others to invest in us and I’m gonna be out there working every
day on your behalf go on to more breakfast lunches and dinners then Kerry
can put my calendar I will work tirelessly for
that along with your first lady who by the way is a volunteer not a paid staff
she volunteers her time right she volunteers her time to be out there with
us to do that right I don’t want you to get it twisted here right but as we
think about that an expanded donor base of giving we’ve got to be able to give
ourselves I’m reminded honorable Marcus Garvey is very clear when he says that
chance never satisfies the hope of suffering people it’s only through hard
work persistence and what else self-reliance by which people ever
realized the light of their own freedom we can continue to ask the legislature
and the chances office another foe please help us because we need and
that’s one posture and I will be I am as big a warrior and an advocate for that
as you will find but I’m not about to go out and ask folk to help take care of us
when we can do things for ourselves all that takes is will and a question of
what are we prepared to sacrifice Laura talked about it earlier sure we can
complain about is inconvenient because new building coming up but you can’t see
the vision of a brand-new building coming up over there those new buildings
of science building on this side where’s Dean the poet I saw him in in some of
their here the new science building where we got here all right Dean Wynn I
see sitting next to him with the innovation and instruction building that
allows our College of Business and public policy those are game changers
the new residence hall is a game changer why because it not only impacts our
ability to deliver instruction and research our capacity is exponentially
increased but it also increases the aesthetic ambience of the place that
just makes it a beautiful place to come that’s what I imagined but we can’t ask
donors to invest in us and give us money if we aren’t willing to invest in
ourselves that’s the question you see your new president is just audacious
enough to imagine a voice I want you to hear that voice that is
not locked away in the abyss of uncrystallized mental musings that
reduces it down to just useless chatter we can’t afford to have just voices that
are just about useless chatter what I want is a voice that is prepared to take
flight amid an air of intellectual stimulation and authentic support for
each other and a constant refrain of encouragement and not one that is
tethered to an anchor of negativity and delights and choosing up sides as if
somehow we’re all on a different side of the battlefield I still see a little too
much of that in this portrait you see I can imagine just tuning out some of
those voices voices that want to denigrate others as a way of affirming
themselves we got enough of that in Washington right now let alone trying to
bring that to our campus right toros do not denigrate ourselves so that we can
affirm myself we elevate each other that’s the voice I can imagine I can
tune out a voice that imagines that our students aren’t capable enough who can’t
see the hidden genius that is in a lot of these students that we teach every
day because I know how capable they can be and they got everything in them
already given to them by the ancestors and the crater to be successful I mean
just imagine the theme Willy Hagan and his inaugural address said America
happens here and I love that and that stuck with the Vita and I when we were
here right for his investiture but just imagine a theme I don’t know what the
new marching order is now it says Toros our t squared T squared we transform
lives that transform America or you didn’t hear me see that is what we do in the turtle
nation and there will be my job in your job to tell that story and sing that
refrain that our mission is to transform lives that transform America that is our
mission and that is what we will do just imagine a belief where all of our
students at the California State University Dominguez Hills could be seen
as those seeds of divinely inspired possibility that they are that if you
can nurture it in a proper context it’ll grow into the fullest expression of all
they are supposed to become just imagine a campus that is seen as the soil into
which those seeds a possibility a place and if we water it with the drops of
intellectual enlightenment if we give it the nutrients of encouragement and
proper value orientation and co-curricular learning and we take the
tools we have and we take the weeds of destruction out of their life and we
give them just enough sunlight of affirmation and just enough shade of
critique and they just stand back and watch them grow into the fullest
expression of all they are supposed to become
that is what Dominguez Hills is we are the soil that is going to help these
young people grow just imagine why we transform lives to transform America why
it is that we are that soil see I’m audacious enough to believe that
we can do this we can do this but I know we will need some help so starting today
as your president and I’m gonna get on every magazine every Twitter every other
thing I can get on I am calling all Toros home calling all Toros home every
one of our alumni are we’re gonna try to contact we got a new banner campaign
we’ve just launched to date that is out there we are calling all Toros home why
because every Toro has something to give oh you didn’t hear me
every Toro has something to give right I think you can help I think some Toros
right may have time you have time to give to provide
encouragement to provide mentoring to provide support for our students you may
not have time but you may have a willingness to share your bounty and
your money to help us raise scholarship dollars for these students you may not
have time or money but you can even give a word of encouragement if you only have
where my students had a word of encouragement to each other if you could
walk up and down the road and just give them a piece of encouragement every day
to say toros welcome to this place I respect your humanity and I bear
witness to your success even that encouragement says all toros have
something to give ya because that is what will stop ultimately folk from
having these pinball style interactions where they go to class class local
unifor sandwich and then they leave i want to engage them that’s how we’re
gonna turn around these numbers that’s how we’re gonna change our retention and
persistence rate that’s how we’re going to change our four and six-year
graduation rates and y’all think we can do this sure we can sure we can all
turtles have something to give and as your president I’m calling all toros
home and I’m prepared to give my time my energy my contact the resources and
encouragement right to this most Nobles endeavour with all of your help
as I close know that I’m excited about the possibilities and prepare to engage
the challenges that lay here with all of your help your support your commitment
and your prayers yes I need those too we can help this campus realize a greater
measure of its promise and possibility we are doing pretty doggone good right
now but it’s not as good as we could be doing and with your help and support
what we gonna try to do is just right keep that trajectory pointed in that
right direction right we can help realize a greater
measure of our promise and possibility I want to remind you that an opportunity
right an opportunity to grow this turtle nation in important ways is a threat if
you only predict failure but it’s a challenge if you think we just might win
at this y’all think we can win at this let me say that again an opportunity is
a threat if you only predict failure but a challenge if you think we just might
win at this you believe we can win you believe we can win now as your president
I’m not asking you for a hundred percent better on 50 things you do I run that
fast my cabin is looking me like right like in your slow download dr. Pete I
got a restless souls I want change and I want greatness and I want superb and I
want right for us to help these students and build this campus I have a restless
soul I don’t want 100 percent better on 50
things I want to know can you give me five percent better on one dimension of
what you do in your role on this campus to help better educate our students our
central mantra is what contributes to student success if you give me five
percent more and we added up all the five percents in this room we could
literally transform this place overnight who thinks they can give me five percent
who thinks they can give me five percent yes so our student body president threw down
the challenge and he said I want to have some Toro Tuesdays and I’ve initiated a
monthly luncheon what our students so we are bringing our entire cabinet our
Academic Senate chair our dean of undergraduate education our dean of
graduate education our chief of police our athletic director we bring in
everybody from the administration to sit with our students and let us hear your
voice is your agenda but I’m also gonna be representing right on Toro Tuesday so
I want to thank our communications team our new theme that your president gonna
be flying on every plane I run in around the world every place I go around the
country I want you to know that I’m supporting the gear I just picked up
this jacket this morning we had made it is called Cal State University Dominguez
Hill we are transforming lives that transform
America y’all with me everybody stand up for me everybody repeat Toros RT squared
we transform lives that transform America
Toros of t-squared we transform lives that transform America
good-day Toro citizen I respect your humanity and I bear witness to your
success thank you very much for being here with us you