President Neufeldt envisions CSUSM to become a leader in social mobility in third annual address


Valeria Serna

President Neufeldt gave her third annual Report to Community address on Sept. 30.

Tania Ortiz, Editor-in-Chief

CSUSM President Ellen Neufedlt introduced the CSUSM’s new institutional strategic plan to highlight the university’s power and potential to become a first-choice school for first-generation and future generations of students. 

The university should be the school of choice for “for first-generation students and students of all backgrounds,” she said. 

Neufeldt gave these remarks during her third annual Report to Community address to the campus community and sponsors. Around 40 guests attended the event in the USU Ballroom; others tuned in to the speech via live stream on Sept. 30. 

The new plan introduced a new mission statement that envisions student success “fueled by innovation, education and community partnerships.”

“That’s where the power of Cal State San Marcos lies,” said Neufeldt, “in our ability to bring people together with diverse backgrounds and talents to learn and work.”

CSUSM ranked 28 out of 1,500 colleges nationwide for the social mobility index (SMI), jumping eight spots from last year’s ranking. The social mobility index means that a college is contributing in a responsible way to solving the dangerous problem of declining economic mobility in our country.

President Neufeldt reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic and CSUSM’s response to online learning.

“It seemed, at the time, unimaginable that we would be faced with such a test. Just a few days later, we found ourselves forced into reality of operating a university virtually behind a computer screen,” said Neufeldt.

The president also noted that the university administered over 200,000 tests and 81,000 vaccines were distributed at the county-operated vaccination site on campus.

The university’s COVID-19 positive rate is less than a quarter of a percent since campus reopened this fall.

Neufeldt further recognized CSUSM’s rankings and how they reflect the university’s embodiment of the transformational power of higher education and CSUSM. The university ranked 41 in the West in US News and World Report, climbing 19 spots higher within a year.

CSUSM also ranked 27th out of 215 colleges in the West on Washington Monthly’s “Best Bang for the Buck.” The university recently received the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Awards from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“While I’m extremely proud that we came up 19 spots in only a year, I also know that, historically, rankings have helped contribute to the socio-economic divide, rewarding schools based on prestige and selectivity,” said Neufeldt of the university’s higher rankings.

In addition, Neufeldt said the rankings reflect the fact universities were built to be gatekeepers, not gateways to the American Dream. 

She said that CSUSM has always been focused on diversity, inclusion and equity, especially with COVID-19 amplifying the pre-existing social and economic inequities, health disparities, xenophobia and racism. 

Neufeldt added that CSUSM is the first and only campus in the CSU system to close the underrepresented minority equity gap.

The university is also partnering with local Black churches and tribal communities exploring how to become more supportive allies.

As a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, CSUSM will be hosting a summit in the spring focused on enhancing the university’s capacity to serve Latinx students and the external community. Subsequently, the university was named a recipient of a new five-year $5 million Hispanic Serving institution grant to expand the engineering program.

President Neufeldt also announced that the CSU Chancellor’s Office allocated over $2 million in funds for the university to begin planning for a new integrated science and engineering building.

The new building is envisioned as a state-of-the-art research facility with instructional, office and collaboration spaces beneficial to the campus community. Further details, like where the building will be built, have yet to be announced.

To watch President Neufeldt’s “Report to Community” address, please visit