Gerth looks to future in annual address


Image: Schedule debacle 10 years in the making:President Donald R. Gerth referred to the possibility of changing to a MWF schedule in his State of the University address in September.Photo by Layla Bohm/State Hornet:

Greg Kane

President Donald Gerth laid out his plan for the upcoming year at his annual address Thursday morning, stressing the importance of diversity, student access and retention and the implementation of year-round operations and distance education.

With student enrollment surging at Sacramento State, Gerth also noted the need for more tenure track faculty positions. He said 71 new full-time positions were filled this semester, and the next year could see more than 100 added.

These additions would bring the ratio of tenure track to part-time lecturer positions closer to the three-to-one range, slowing a trend of part-time hiring that Gerth said is beginning to run wild.

“There are places in the University where I think it?s just running out of control, to put it bluntly,” Gerth said.

Gerth also spoke briefly about the stalled contract negotiations between the California State University and the California Faculty Association, saying he believes an agreement will be reached when the two parties meet in September.

“It is my belief that negotiations can be completed in good will, and I believe they will,” Gerth said.

Making the university more accessible to students through measures such as distance education ? which includes Online and video courses ? and year-round operations are vital tasks this year, Gerth said. The year-round operations plan broadens summer course offerings with an eye toward expanding the academic calendar to three semesters.

Though Sac State only recently adopted the year-round format, Gerth said summer courses have had a healthy enrollment and should continue to grow. Approximately 4,600 students took courses this past summer, Gerth said.

“I believe our summer term enrollment will be something like 10,000 full-time equivalent students (10 to fifteen years from now),” he said.

Gerth said he wants to assemble a task force to look at distance education and how it can be used at Sac State. Referring to college campuses as “capitals of that borderless world” of information, he said offering Online courses would allow more students to access what the university has to offer.

“The monopoly that universities have had on the distribution of knowledge ended some time ago,” Gerth said.

Programs like these can increase the number of students at Sac State, but this brings up another issue ? holding on to them. Gerth said the university needs to look at ways to increase student retention.

Some ideas he offered, which were presented to him by Associated Students Inc. President Artemio Pimentel and Vice President Eric Guerra, included expanded orientation, mandatory freshman seminars and intensive programs for at-risk students.

“Such retention efforts require campus-wide support, because all faculty and staff are equal partners in this effort,” Gerth said.

Gerth said he would also like to address diversity as an academic issue, and will be establishing a center on campus for working with students and staff on the issue.

“This will complement, not replace, the work of the Multi-Cultural Center with its work with students,” Gerth said.