CSUSM President addresses concerns in open forum


Photo by Lara Amin

President Neufeldt answers questions from the CSUSM community.

Students, faculty and staff gathered for an open forum with President Ellen Neufeldt to discuss CSUSM’s past and future.

The forum, held on Oct. 8, began with Neufeldt saying, “One of the things that’s most important to me before making any big decisions is to hear from the campus. It’s vitally important to me to understand the culture, to understand what’s on your mind…” To start the dialogue between herself and attendees, Neufeldt asked what the audience valued most about CSUSM.

Responses came in the form of praise for CSUSM’s people, close-knit environment and mission.

A staff member from CSUSM Athletics gave her view on the university’s culture and emphasized that CSUSM “has a culture of excellence that strives to be the best.”

Neufeldt then shifted to discussing the university’s strengths and challenges. The first response came from an audience member who said, “I think our strength is our ability to stretch the dollar.”

The response was followed by laughs and nods from faculty and staff before the audience member said, “Our challenge is not having enough. I think because we’re growing, there’s a lot more we can do but that tends to limit [us].”

“We’re stretching on a band that might pop be- cause we’ve been so good at stretching that dollar but that can only go so far,” responded Neufeldt.

One faculty member shared her concerns about employee recognition.

She said, “University guidelines make it really difficult to employ morale building. It’s extremely difficult to get a pay raise unless you have an extremely supportive boss like I do.”

Speaking about new employees that lack recognition compared to long-time employees, she said, “There should be a central pot of money for IRPs. There should be employee team building and those kinds of things… There should be a way to recognize them. They should be able to get pay raises or bonuses or have a lunch out or something.”

In-Range progression (IRP) is a permanent salary raise to a staff member’s base salary that is funded by departmental budgets.

Neufeldt said, “We need to look at our whole rewards system but specifically with- in that, the IRPs… That’s been brought up in other sessions. I’m glad you brought that up.”

A student added to the discussion and said “We have a problem with the amount of classes that are offered, especially with general education classes. This is my fourth semester trying to get into GES. This semester, I was placed sixteenth on the waitlist.”

The student continued, voicing another concern about how the Language Other Than English Requirement (LOTER) was removed. “That means people who are STEM majors don’t have to take the LOTER requirement but me, as a Spanish major, I still have to take a science class. I [don’t] think that’s fair.”

The same student also discussed the limited range of UPDs safety escort services.

Another student, Samantha Carraciolo, shared her concerns about recent changes to Title IX, explaining that there needs to be further resources devoted to confidential reporting of sexual misconduct.

Neufeldt gave thanks to the campus community and emphasized that some issues are “a marathon and not a sprint.” She said, “There were a few sprints mentioned here today that we’ll look at but I don’t want you to think that you mention it and it goes away.”