CSU presidents welcomed the beginning of a new academic year by addressing campus faculty, staff and students in a traditional formal ceremony called a convocation — outlining goals, celebrating accomplishments and focusing on the future. 

This year, a common theme was to highlight campus goals to support the CSU’s Graduation Initiative, which aims to increase graduation rates for all students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. Each campus has developed individual student success plans with short and long term objectives to guide their work.

Convocation addresses illustrated increasing student success through programs and tools designed to support students through their academic journey is a top priority.

One way CSU Monterey Bay plans to strengthen their advising program is by instituting mandatory visits for students to advisers at critical junctures in their academic career. This will help make sure they are on the right track, create a partnership with advisers and help identify students who may be experiencing setbacks. 

“It is important for us to continue to create clear and efficient academic pathways to diplomas,” CSU Monterey Bay President Eduardo Ochoa said.

During Sonoma State President Judy Sakaki’s convocation speech, she announced that they will be using the funding provided to them through Graduation Initiative to hire advisers with expertise in serving first-generation and historically underserved students, as well as permanently fund the university’s new Transitions and Transfer Center.

Other CSUs are implementing innovative tools to help students make data-driven decisions about their undergraduate futures. Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen announced that Smart Planner, a digital dashboard that provides students a roadmap to graduation, is fully activated and that 62 percent of Sacramento State students are already using it to create their degree plans. 

“As we progress to a fully-implemented advising system, Smart Planner will be a critical tool for our students and faculty,” Nelsen said. 

Every objective put forth through Graduation Initiative is designed to foster educational achievement while maintaining academic excellence. The CSU is examining every aspect of higher education to discover the best ways to make a quality education more accessible to every student.

CSU Channel Islands President Erika Beck reminded her campus community that, “meeting those goals will not be easy, but I am confident that with dedicated effort, we will be able to foster educational achievement and maintain academic excellence as we have always done in the past.”