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From the Desk of Dr. Karen Haynes

Kicking off Fall Semester with Cuba...and the Campaign

September 2, 2015

Leave Your Mark - Class of 2019

Fall semester is under way, and the campus is alive with the energy of more than 14,000 students – our largest student body ever! Here’s a picture of me on September 1st with our energetic first-year students at the annual CSUSM ‘Leave Your Mark’ event. Several exciting things are happening just in the month of September alone, and I wanted to share a few of them with you.

Next week I will join a delegation of other university and college presidents and chancellors from around the country on a seven-day Presidential Missions to Cuba. The trip is being organized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). Each year, ASCUU organizes a Presidential Mission to a country or region where presidents and chancellors have opportunities to explore linkages with institutions of higher education, potentially leading to partnerships and programs at the institutional level, such as faculty and student exchanges, collaboration on programs, etc. 

Obviously, this trip comes at an historic time in USA/Cuban relations, with our two countries restoring diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015 for the first time since 1961. Our visit will include meetings with officials in the Cuban public higher education system – including with Dr. Rodolfo Alarcón Ortíz, Cuba’s Minister of Higher Education – as well as opportunities to better understand the Cuban health care system.    

I look forward to representing CSUSM and learning much about a society and culture that has been off-limits to most Americans for more than half a century. I will do so through several lenses, including as the president of an innovative, Hispanic Serving Institution committed to serving traditionally underserved student populations and to expanding its international partnerships and experiences; as a trained social worker; and as a woman leader in higher education.

Following my Cuba trip, some milestone events for our campus will take place, including the grand opening of our University’s first-ever Latin@ Center on September 17. The center has been open since the beginning of the semester and is proving to be a big hit with the CSUSM community. More information on the Latin@ Center is here:

At a special event on September 20, I will publicly announce to our strongest supporters and biggest donors the launch of CSUSM’s first Comprehensive Campaign. No other university in the CSU system, and likely in the nation, has attempted to launch a comprehensive campaign at such a young age … but we are ready. No other university is preparing tomorrow’s leaders, building great communities, and solving critical issues as we are. No other university has the kind of commitment to traditionally underrepresented students – former foster youth, Veterans, American Indians, first-generation – that we do.

By working together, and with the collective power of our supportive region, I know we can succeed - Forward Together! Stay tuned for more information on The Campaign for California State San Marcos following the September 20 launch event.

September will draw to a close with the grand opening of our CSUSM University Store’s expansive new location in the Commons behind Craven Hall on September 30. The store now offers more space for textbooks and an enlarged gift and apparel section to better highlight Cougar pride and, for the first time in our history, in the same location!

Speaking of Cougar pride, I continue to be so very proud of the exemplary students, faculty and staff who make our University the special and unique place it is. During 2015, as we continue to celebrate CSUSM’s milestone 25th anniversary, you should all be proud of what we accomplish every day – learning, discovering, transforming communities, and moving our University Forward … Together!