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President's Column: A time for transition and change

  • April 6, 2011

Nimble. Imaginative. Determined. Willing to do whatever it takes. And imbued with an audacious Pioneering spirit. These are the attributes that best define Cal State East Bay and demonstrate why we have been able to go so far together. But what I will miss most about the university are the people — the talented, dedicated, motivated faculty, staff and students.

As you know, on March 22, the CSU Board of Trustees selected me to serve as the next president of San José State University, starting this summer. Although I am honored by this appointment, the decision to leave Cal State East Bay has been a very difficult one. I have been deeply committed to the vision for CSUEB that was forged by the University community during my tenure. And I take great pride in witnessing the ongoing transformation of Cal State East Bay from a small, local college to an emerging regional leader and destination university. But it's clear that the University has now found its wings — and the time for transition and change has come.

The next president

The Board of Trustees, in partnership with the CSU Chancellor, is responsible for the recruitment, selection, and appointment of Cal State East Bay's next president. Together they will form a search committee that will work during the coming months in close consultation with an advisory group of CSUEB faculty, staff, student and alumni representatives.

I am confident the search committee will seek a new president dedicated to Cal State East Bay's mission of inclusion and access to higher education. They will look for a leader who possesses a solid understanding and appreciation of our distinguishing regional stewardship role, together with the ability to advance our science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education initiative in partnership with faculty, and strong fundraising abilities and commitment to the priorities of the University of Possibilities comprehensive campaign.

This search and selection process may take up to a year, so CSUEB's next president may not be announced until as late as mid-2012. But because my San José State appointment begins this summer, the Chancellor will appoint an interim president before I depart CSUEB.

Given the complexity and duration of this transition process, the Office of University Communications has launched a new Web site,, where you can find more information and regular updates.

The remainder of my time at CSUEB

During the remainder of my time at CSUEB, I will continue to devote myself to the advancement of the University’s strategic priorities and to a smooth transition. The University today is moving ahead with a number of exciting projects and initiatives. These include a new Center for STEM Education, which recently received launch funding from the Bayer USA Foundation, the Hearst Foundation, and Wareham Development, early planning for a state-of-the-art STEM Education building on our Hayward Campus, and the expansion of our innovative Gateways Cradle to Career Education and Workforce Partnership.

I am determined to use my remaining time at CSUEB to accomplish as much as I can in areas such as these, where I can make the most difference. I have asked members of my cabinet for their assessment of our most critical near-term priorities and most promising opportunities. With their advice and with your ongoing support and cooperation, Cal State East Bay will continue its progress unabated — including some important steps and developments I expect to complete and announce over the next three months.

2011-12 budget implications

The efforts of the governor and legislature to grapple with the state's projected $26 billion budget shortfall have dominated the news. In the governor's proposal, the best-case scenario for the CSU was a cut of almost 18%, or $500 million, in 2011-12, part of more than $11 billion in combined state cuts that reduce the CSU's state support to the level of 10 years ago, despite the fact that we serve 70,000 more students today. The CSU also faces a $50 million increase in mandatory spending, including increased energy and employee health premiums. After applying an estimated $142 million of revenue (net of a set-aside for financial aid) from an already-approved Fall 2011 tuition fee increase, the CSU will still need to reduce spending by approximately $400 million. At Cal State East Bay, our share of that cut is expected to be $13.6 million. Unfortunately, however, with the collapse last week of negotiations to place a tax-extension measure on the June ballot as means of closing the remaining budget gap, the CSU and CSUEB may now face far deeper cuts.

Despite the many unknowns, we are doing all we can at Cal State East Bay to ensure that our budget decisions consistently reflect our priorities and commitment to serve as many students as we can while maintaining high quality academic offerings. We are a looking for ways to further reduce costs and improve efficiencies in order to help mitigate pending budget cuts. These include using virtual computing technologies and non-traditional learning formats such as increased online offerings; reducing overhead costs, including worker’s compensation and utilities; and eliminating some of our reserve for emergencies and unexpected contingencies. As the budget deliberations proceed, I will do my best to keep you informed of developments and the specific impact on Cal State East Bay. 

What we have achieved together

During the past five years, Cal State East Bay not only has achieved a number of significant goals, but also has established a sustainable and reliable course for many years of accomplishments yet to come. Consider our progress toward the four key priorities I announced in my first year: enrollment growth, financial stability, increased tenure-track faculty and enhanced campus facilities. Today we have reversed declining enrollment trends; balanced the budget and eliminated our structural debt; recruited and hired one-third of our tenure-track faculty; and transformed the Hayward Campus with new facilities and beautifully maintained grounds. Our new strategic academic and master plans, inspired by our seven strategic mandates, are being successfully implemented. And we are on target with our first comprehensive fundraising campaign.

There can be no question that through our work together we have greatly strengthened the university's standing and reputation in our region while also reinforcing access to the rigorous, yet real-world academic programming required for 21st-century student success.

Building on our legacy

It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such a tremendously dedicated and passionate community and to serve as your president. I will always be deeply grateful for the way you welcomed me five years ago; the way we have worked together to strengthen the University; and the way you have embraced the initiatives we designed to build on our strengths and find new ways to serve the changing needs of our students and the communities we serve.

We have not only delivered creatively and boldly on our mission and stewardship commitment — to support the economic vibrancy, workforce development, and health of our region — but we have also positioned the University for future expansion, increased excellence, and growing prominence. This is the legacy of our work together. And it is the foundation upon which the University will continue to build and benefit from, long after my departure.

President Qayoumi invites and welcomes your comments. Share your feedback here. Submissions are not published on the news site but are sent directly to, and read by, the president.

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