President Karen Haynes took a bold stance on the state of public higher education in her ninth annual Report to the Community on February 7. “The Golden State’s image is tarnished,” she said in her opening remarks. “We are no longer the land of opportunity, the state known for its commitment to public higher education.”

Nearly 500 regional business and community leaders packed into the Event Pavilion on campus as Haynes resolutely proclaimed that California needed to get its priorities in order. “California now spends roughly $50,000 per inmate and less than $7,000 per [California State University] student,” she said. 



CSUSM Educates: Higher Education is a Personal Good and a Public Good

After five consecutive years of budget cuts, state funding to public universities has fallen from a high of nearly $11,000 per student in 1999 to roughly $7,000 per student today, a nearly 40 percent reduction. Voter approval of Proposition 30 was key to stopping further cuts. However, due to the Board of Trustees rolling back a 9.5 percent tuition increase that had been approved a year ago, CSUSM only saw a net gain of $1.3 million this year.

“Our permanent cut is still $18 million less in state appropriations than we had in 2008,” she said.

This is a problem for current and aspiring Cal State San Marcos students who know that a quality education leads to high-paying jobs and an increased quality of life. Beyond the personal gains of earning a college degree, society benefits as well. For every dollar Californians invest in higher education, they receive a net return on their investment of $4.50, Haynes explained.  Students who enter and complete college are less likely to be impoverished, are less dependent on social serves and more likely to pay taxes.

Budget cuts have led to enrollment limits across the California State University (CSU) system. CSUSM would currently have 2,000 more students enrolled and 3,100 more graduates by 2016 if it were being funded at sufficient levels.

“As a high-demand campus in a growing region, I am angry – and you should be too – that we are forced to turn away qualified regional students because of decreased funding,” proclaimed Haynes. “We had more than 18,000 applicants this fall for only 2,500 slots. While some of these students did attend college somewhere, many of them did not. We all lose when that happens.”

CSUSM Innovates: Innovation is no longer an Elective; it is a Prerequisite for the Future

Despite fiscal woes, Haynes shared how CSUSM’s spirit of adventure and innovation drives it forward. “We believe that for any university to survive, they must seek out partnerships that make sense because they expand access, benefit students and creatively meet the needs of the region,” she said.

Major highlights of the last year include a public-private partnership with developer Urban Villages to build The QUAD, student housing that opened in August and is currently filled to capacity.

In September the CSU Institute for Palliative Care at Cal State San Marcos was launched, largely due to the University’s history and success at leveraging innovative partnerships to meet community needs. Launched with $2.5 million from foundations and a regional philanthropist, the Institute for Palliative Care puts CSUSM front and center in shaping the future of health care.

At the report Haynes announced a groundbreaking agreement with the Ben Hundall Memorial Trust of Kaiser Permanente to offer online nursing degree prerequisite courses to Trust participants.

“More than 45,000 members of Kaiser’s workforce across it s regions will soon have access to those quality CSUSM courses,” she said. “We are the first and only university to partner with the Trust – a collaboration that will help raise the educational attainment level of our nation’s nurses and address national workforce needs – certainly a sure sign that our reputation for innovative models of educations is growing exponentially.”

Other successful and innovative partnerships have led to the University’s biotechnology certificate, advanced Spanish for medical personnel course, CSUSM at Temecula, and the School of Nursing, which received more than 1,000 applications for only 150 spots last year.

These programs, “represent the ability of our students to get real jobs in this region, and they are the intentional outgrowth of our commitment to educate and elevate the wellspring of talent in our region,” said Haynes.

CSUSM Elevates: Opening the Door of Opportunity to Students and Creating Regionally Significant Partnerships

During her remarks Haynes shared that last May, CSUSM graduated its largest class ever —2,600 students — 50 percent of whom were the first in their families to earn a four-year degree.

CSUSM educates a diverse student population – over 50 percent are minorities. Haynes touted the campus’ ACES Scholars Services program, which not only has an 88 percent retention rate but serves the highest per capita number of former foster youth in the system.

“Our military students also remain at the university with a 90 percent one-year continuation rate and GPAs that are 20 percent higher than the national average,” boasted Haynes. Military Times Edge named CSUSM a top public university in California for veterans and their families.

Since last May Haynes shared that nearly 9,000 students and their families have come to campus for tours, and the San Marcos Unified School District awarded more than 100 scholarships to students participating in the guaranteed admission program called PACE Promise.

“PACE Promise students have higher GPAs and SAT scores than other students and are also retained at significantly higher levels,” Haynes shared. “These improvements are consistent across the three districts from which we are already receiving students [through similar guaranteed admission programs]: San Marcos, Escondido and Valley Center-Pauma.”

A Pivotal Moment in History

Before concluding her remarks Haynes emphasized that CSUSM is essential for a strong California because of its success in providing access and opportunities to students.

“We know – because we see it every day – that education is a passport to social and economic prosperity for our students, for this region,” she commented. “. . . [Our] responsibility is not just to ignite in our students a passion for learning but to also transmit the knowledge and skills necessary to make a living.”

Rallying the audience into action, Haynes passionately called upon everyone under the pavilion to support the University, a brilliant example of what’s possible in higher education.

“This is a pivotal movement in history, and what hangs in the balance is nothing less than the future of this state and this region,” she emphasized. “No one gets a pass.”

Read President's Haynes' full remarks at Report to the Community: Educate, Innovate, Elevate and hear more about her vision by watching a special video message.

“We know – because we see it every day – that education is a passport to social and economic prosperity for our students, for this region,” said President Haynes. “[Our] responsibility is not just to ignite in our students a passion for learning but to also transmit the knowledge and skills necessary to make a living.”