President Mildred García met with mayors of the South Bay cities at a roundtable discussion hosted by Mayor Frank Scotto of Torrance at the Torrance City Hall on Feb. 16. Among those in attendance were Mike Gin, mayor of Redondo Beach; Anthony Misetich, mayor pro tem of Rolling Hills Estates; Godfrey Pernell, mayor of Rolling Hills; Robert Pullen-Miles, mayor pro tem of Lawndale; and John Rea, mayor pro tem of Palos Verdes Estates. García addressed the mayors and presented the university’s achievements that include last fall’s record enrollment of more than 15,000 students and the elimination of a $2.8 million structural deficit.
Describing her focus on financial stability, enrollment management, building internal and external community, and celebrating the university’s points of pride, García highlighted the progress of CSU Dominguez Hills in the past four years and its goal “to be the model urban university in the United States.” She also underscored the need for South Bay communities and the university “to collaborate and work together for the mutual success of the citizens of our area” through partnerships with cities and local businesses.
“It’s my job to make sure that you know all the resources that are [at CSU Dominguez Hills] for your city,” García said. “We have a relationship with Northrop Grumman, where [their employees] not only come in and teach, but our students are able to do internships. We’re looking to create more paid internship opportunities… for students in the areas in which they’re studying. Another possible project is an environmental engineering program that could bring in the aerospace and science community that is right here in the South Bay to help us make sure the curriculum is spot-on and what that field needs.”
García also discussed the university’s strategic plan, which was unveiled in fall 2010 after input from internal and external constituencies, student information sessions, alumni gatherings, and community town halls that included mayors and elected officials. She stated that the strategic plan conveys CSU Dominguez Hills’ “forward-looking vision.”
“Even though we’re in a budget crisis, we need to plan and have a road map for our next steps and build university-wide consensus as well as with our community,” she said. “It defines our primary objectives and initiatives.”
President García noted the strategic plan’s key themes of accountability, collaboration, continuous learning, rigorous standards, proactive partnerships, and responsiveness as necessary to defining the university’s role in the community.
“The key themes serve as the umbrella under which all of the strategic plan’s goals and objectives fall under,” she said. “They define us and our role in the community, and range from improving the quality of life in the South Bay to developing partnerships that benefit our students, to exploring green initiatives.”
García said that the development of the strategic plan also led to additional goals for the university, including the possible creation of a green engineering program, advisory boards to support each college, and a campuswide enrollment management initiative to recruit, retain, and graduate students at a higher rate. She also addressed the university’s ability to pursue these measures and more, due to the increase in philanthropy, and projected a goal for the university to raise seven percent of the state’s general fund contribution to higher education in 2015.
“We’re on a rollercoaster with the state, not knowing what our budgets are going to be,” said García. “But under the leadership of University Advancement and with the help of all of our stakeholders, we have grown philanthropic support by 187 percent. Even in these tough economic times, people really care about education and helping people get their education, so we’re growing in dollars and in donors.”
García emphasized the need to engage South Bay communities to support CSU Dominguez Hills as the university of the South Bay and help bolster the local job market and economy.
“We continue to look to ways to ensure that we are working together… and events like this that Mayor Scotto was so kind to pull together, are an example of how to continue these partnerships,” she said.
Scotto, who owns a business near the university, said that he often talks to the Dominguez Hills students among his customers and that “the buzz around school is very impressive.”
“Quality students want to go to a certain school because they realize that after they graduate, they have an opportunity,” said Scotto. “Somebody who lives in Torrance, Carson, or wherever in the South Bay, may want a job right here. The fact that they go to a local school gives them that employment opportunity.
“A lot of students make their choice of schools by talking to alumni who say, ‘I graduated and I was able to get a job, just like that,’” said Scotto. “It’s that kind of value that helps students make decisions on which schools to go to.”