President Joe addresses the university


Tyler FisherContributor

Five is the magic number.

Tuesday’s state of the university address established new ground and broke the old with it.

“We must focus on the future. We must accept where we are and say, ‘what’s next?’, ” said University President Joe Bertolino.

Several key issues were addressed during Bertolino’s speech, so many in fact that the president and other members of the university’s leadership have thought it prudent to establish five priorities and responsibilities that will guide the university’s policies and decisions for years come.

One of the priorities is preparing Southern for the future.

The extra funding allotted to Southern from the state and federal governments is ceasing at the year’s end.

Remedying the university’s financial status is essential.

“It is vital that we stabilize the university’s financial position,” said Bertolino. “This year, we have a balanced budget largely due to multi-million dollar injections of state and federal support and the hard work of our finance team. The downside to that is that all of this wonderful funding that we received will not be available at the end of the year.”

To fix the university’s financial hardship, Bertolino talked about the possibility of creating more revenue streams.

“The CSU system as a whole is looking at a projected budget deficit of more than $100 million in fiscal year 2023, largely as a result of the sharply declining enrollment system volume. As a result, it is critical that we develop new revenue streams, including external grants, corporate partnerships, and contracts,” said Bertolino.

Bertolino and the rest of the university leadership hope to enhance financial aid and scholarship funding, research, and program development.

The key points in preparing Southern for the future and the other four priorities are summarized in this program distributed to those who attended the speech.

Making the university more accessible for students enrolled at Southern and prospective students is a big aspect of priority two; driving enrollment.

As Bertolino said, “flexibility is going to be the key to our future success. These are qualities that we will need in the days to come as we address a long-standing enrollment downturn that had been exacerbated by the events of the last 18 months. We were already struggling before covid. Covid has just sped up the process.”

The third priority is to ensure student success by removing the obstacles that make it harder for students to graduate.

“I think we need to take a hard look at all of our policies, all of our procedures, all of our systems in a variety of different ways to see what those barriers are and then see how much flexibility we have in changing them,” said Bertolino.

Southern prides itself on being a university committed to social justice and a part of the community. Priorities four and five are rooted in those beliefs.

Four: advancing social justice and anti-racism on campus and beyond, and the fifth priority, engaging the community and expanding the university’s reach, serves to recruit and retain those who share the same beliefs and attain new donors.

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