Head of the Class--A view of CSUMB from the president.
Thursday, November 5, 1998
In a Sept. 24 cover story in Coast Weekly ("Making the Grade," by Richard Pitnick), CSUMB''s innovative educational structure was reviewed.
Discounting a few inevitable inaccuracies, the use of some dubious "confidential sources," and the decidedly sophomoric cover attached to the article, Mr. Pitnick managed to capture some of what is working at CSUMB, as well as areas where improvements are needed. I appreciate his attempt to sort out an extremely complex and developing situation. However, a few more answers to questions frequently asked that weren''t addressed in the article might be helpful to Coast Weekly readers interested in understanding CSUMB''s efforts to develop a top-notch innovative educational institution for the Monterey Bay area.
For example, we are frequently asked about CSUMB''s academic philosophy. CSUMB''s academic philosophy is based on "outcomes-based education," a term that is likely to become more familiar in higher education as it is adopted by other universities. This term means that students at CSUMB are required to demonstrate what they have learned before they can graduate. An "outcomes-based education" requires that we be publicly accountable for what our students know. We are doing what people have asked for years --increased accountability and some clarity about what graduates know and are able to do. Education at CSUMB has not been designed as an assembly line and assembly line language doesn''t do it justice.
One value infused throughout CSUMB''s curriculum is that students should serve their community as a value added component of their education and as an investment in the community. Last academic year, CSUMB''s service learning program placed over 770 students (out of a total student body of 1,500) in 148 agencies for a total of 23,100 hours in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.
Why the focus on multiculturalism? CSUMB''s curriculum places strong emphasis on the issues students and our society face as the 21st century approaches. To this end, CSUMB students learn how to participate in a multicultural environment so that they will be able to communicate across cultural and social boundaries in their professional and personal lives. Leaders across the country have said that cross-cultural communication is critical for continued business success in the years ahead. In addition, it is the right thing to do.
And finally, the most commonly asked question, exactly how big is CSUMB going to be? Though much has been written about the ultimate enrollment of CSUMB, clear answers have been scarce. Currently, CSUMB has 1,956 students enrolled. By the year 2030, CSUMB will enroll 25,000 students. However, fewer than half the students enrolled will actually be on campus at any given time.
The others will take classes via the Internet, through what is called Distributed Learning, while others will take brief but intensive courses over a few weeks or several weekends. These innovative methods of delivering learning opportunities will allow people who cannot or choose not to leave their jobs and careers to continue their education. People all over the world will be able to enroll at CSUMB without leaving or uprooting their family.
In addition, by allowing people to take courses through nontraditional methods, we will be setting an excellent example for water conservation. With fewer people living on campus, the campus will make more effective use of Monterey Bay''s most valuable commodity, while meeting its state enrollment requirements.
An essential element to assuring that CSUMB continues to grow and thrive is the involvement of our local communities. We encourage you to ask questions and be part of the development of the university. After all, the education is in the questions.
Dr. Peter Smith is president of California State University, Monterey Bay. If you have questions regarding the university, please call 582-3518 or 582-3653.