Incoming president speaks to CSUSM in (open) forum

Cedric Lansangan, News Writer

Incoming president and successor to President Karen Haynes, Dr. Ellen Neufeldt made her first official visit to the CSUSM campus on Thursday, April 11 since her appointment in March.

Dr. Neufeldt will officially become CSUSM’s fourth president on July 4, following President Haynes’ retirement at the end of June.

The campus community had the opportunity to meet and greet Dr. Neufeldt in an open forum held at The Sports Center from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

CSUSM Vice President of Community Engagement, Patricia Prado-Olmos, and ASI President, Savana Doudar, provided opening remarks. Doudar briefly discussed Dr. Neufeldts’ experience, highlighting her current work as vice president of student engagement and enrollment services at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia since 2011.

Flashing a beaming smile around the Sports Center gymnasium, Dr. Neufeldt began her speech by thanking the campus community for being so welcoming and receptive to her future role as president. She mentioned her impression of CSUSM and how it stands as a bright beacon for the future of higher education.

Reflecting on her past, Neufeldt shared the experiences and perspectives she gained from having a faculty member for a father and from her own education. Neufeldt has a bachelor’s in business administration, a master’s in educational psychology and a doctoral degree of education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Dr. Neufeldt recounted that while attaining her degrees, she began to feel that something critical is missing in higher education.

She continued on this topic by referring back to her father, an immigrant from Canada who, with his wife, faced and conquered the task of completing a doctorates program. His example of perseverance, hard work and dedication is what inspired Dr. Neufeldt to never take the value of education for granted.

She said that once someone in a family earns a college degree, especially a doctoral degree, that the achievement profoundly impacts not just their family, but also the community at large.

Dr. Neufeldt then laid out her vision for CSUSM. One of her goals is to continue and further improve CSUSM’s record of inclusion. She acknowledged that she has much to learn about what her predecessors worked to achieve and instill in the community and believes that although she may not be able to reach that same benchmark established by the three presidents before her, she will strive to do so.

Like President Haynes, Dr. Neufeldt seeks to serve all students, faculty and staff at CSUSM. She wants to make sure that every student graduates and that no student falls through the cracks of the system.

Part of what impressed her about CSUSM was the collaborative and multi/cross-disciplinary environment she observed. She wants to continue this work in order to further empower and encourage innovation and success, particularly in the many fields of research conducted on campus.

Closing out her speech, Dr. Neufeldt maintained her positive notes of hope for the future, drawing laughs when she recounted what Dr. Haynes told her in a congratulatory email shortly after being appointed by the CSU Board of Trustees: “Congratulations on attaining the Presidency of the best CSU campus.”

Finally, before opening the floor to a short Q&A session from the audience, Neufeldt said that , while she does have much to learn and adapt to, she is ready and willing to learn all in the name of being the best president she can be.