Thursday, November 20, 2008


It is hard to believe that the end of the year is almost here! As you know, for the month of November, our guiding principle is Responsibility. This has also been an FAS Value for many years but perhaps the least spoken. To our division, it means taking ownership of our actions and continuously seeking positive solutions. In our environment, there is no time like the present for our true leaders to emerge.

In these challenging budget times, it is often too easy to become territorial and seek safe refuge when our daily actions and decisions come under fire and scrutiny from others. Our campus’s fiscal, human and physical resources are limited and with so many competing priorities, a certain amount of stress and tension will occur. While we are not in full control of all the variables, we are in control of our response to them.

Here are a few thoughts:

1. Always remember there are two sides to every story and the truth is probably in the middle. There is a lot of anecdotal information out there which has no relationship to reality. Don’t take everything you hear as truth…do your homework and verify the facts. Knowledge truly is power.

2. Celebrate your accomplishments…our FAS biennial report demonstrates accountability, data driven decision making, and goals that tie to the campus strategic priorities and ultimately, enhance the quality of the educational experience at CSUSM.

3. Seek opportunities to be a leader! You do not have to have the words director, manager or supervisor in your title to be a leader. Leaders own their actions, admit their mistakes, and most importantly, learn from them with graciousness and humility.

Lastly, I hope you can all join President Haynes for a campus open budget forum on Wednesday, December 3rd from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in ACD 102. This will be an opportunity to learn what we do know about the budget, what we don’t know, and to ask questions and help us as leaders understand your concerns so we can proactively address the challenges that lie ahead.

Before we close out November, it is my goal to blog at least 1-2 more times with more thoughts on Responsibility. I would love to hear from you…you can either respond to the Blog or send me an email. Your thoughts, ideas and concerns do matter to me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Are You a Professional?

I hope all of you have been sharing your thoughts and ideas of what professionalism means to you and how we exhibit it in our daily work, in your staff meetings. As a guiding principle in Finance and Administrative Services, we define professionalism as “We apply our best skills, knowledge, and experience as we serve the campus community”.

How you look, talk, write, act and work, determines whether you are a professional or an amateur. Too often, society does not emphasize the importance of professionalism, so we view amateur work as normal. A good example is, a person can miss up to 20% of the written driving test questions and still get a driver’s license. Unfortunately, too many organizations accept less than good results.

In our ever changing environment, we cannot afford to accept the mediocre, "just get by" attitude. It is the attitude of amateurs.

So what is the difference between a professional and an amateur?

A professional learns every aspect of the job. An amateur skips the learning process whenever necessary.

A professional carefully discovers what is needed and wanted. An amateur assumes what others need and want.

A professional looks, speaks, and dresses like a professional. An amateur is sloppy in appearance in speech.

A professional jumps into difficult assignments. An amateur tries to get out of difficult work.

A professional is focused and clear-headed. An amateur is confused and distracted.

A professional uses higher emotional tones: Enthusiasm, cheerfulness, interest, contentment. An amateur uses lower emotional tones: Anger, hostility, resentment, fear, victim.

A professional produces more than expected. An amateur produces just enough to get by.

A professional has a promising future. An amateur has an uncertain future.

Make yourself a professional by declaring you ARE a professional!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


At the July division meeting, our new vision was launched:

The FAS Division Transforms the Workplace…
Service, Laughter, Inviting, Excitement, Communication, Innovation, Finest

I hope you all walked away from the meeting feeling inspired and ready to take on those challenges and opportunities that cross our paths on a daily basis. Now that the fall semester is in full swing, I am ready to return to blogging.

In creating a theme for the blog, I thought I would focus on our guiding principles starting with Professionalism for this month’s entry. Creating and maintaining a professional impression in the workplace is an important component for a successful career. What exactly does professionalism mean and what behaviors exemplify professional conduct? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are interacting with colleagues, clients and those we serve in our daily interactions.

Even though many of us are not subject to an official dress code, it is sensible to dress appropriately for your position. Pay attention to what your colleagues and managers are wearing. If in doubt, my motto has always been “don’t wear it”.

First Impressions
When meeting someone for the first time, stand up when he or she enters the room, make eye contact, smile and firmly shake the person’s hand. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Create a 30 second synopsis of who you are and what you do for the purpose of introducing yourself to new people. This should keep you in the forefront of people’s minds.

While representing the University at system-wide meetings and conferences, wear your name tag near your right shoulder so when you shake hands with someone, their eyes are diverted directly to the tag. I can’t remember the number of times I wore my name tag on the left side…YIKES!

Meeting Etiquette
Timing is everything; especially when you are in charge of the meeting. Arrive early, start and end the meeting on time. Be prepared by reviewing the agenda and all briefing materials in advance of the meeting. For those of us who organize meetings, resist the urge to over-invite. We all have full jobs and one less meeting means one or more tasks off the “to do” list.

Learn to Listen
Listening is much more than just waiting for your turn to talk. Engage the speaker by paying attention and please…leave the Blackberry alone. I promise it won’t miss you. :)

Be careful what you put in writing; you don’t want anything coming back to haunt you. If you need to convey sensitive or confidential information, it may be best to speak directly with the person. E-mail is great for certain communications but not the only way to deliver messages.
Always proofread carefully…spelling and grammatical errors reflect poorly on the sender.

Show your Appreciation
Let your colleagues know when they have done a good job…you will make their day!

Keeping Confidences
True professionals don’t gossip…need I say more?

Office Politics
Pay attention to political undercurrents that can help you navigate tricky situations but avoid becoming directly involved in office politics.

Optimism, not just wishful thinking, is the trademark of a successful professional. View setbacks as an opportunity to learn and do a better job the next time around.

Perhaps the most important, show genuine enthusiasm about your job and people will love working with or for you, making for a pleasant and productive business environment.

Monday, June 16, 2008

FAS Values Survey and the $1M Question: What is in it for me?

Dear FAS Colleagues:

Just one more week left to take the FAS Values Survey and if you have not yet completed it, I hope this blog inspires you to take a few minutes to provide us with your thoughts, ideas and aspirations for our division and the campus.

One primary reason I hear for not taking the survey is concern about anonymity; please be assured that the survey is 100% anonymous and IP addresses are not stored and questions are not linked together. Your feedback is essential to me and the leadership team in our division so we know where we need to focus our time and other resources.

The results of the Values Survey meet important objectives: They measure if our values are incorporated into our work place; they guide our work and direction for improvements and the more feedback we receive, the more data we have to determine emerging themes requiring our attention.

Another reason that has crossed my ears for not taking the survey may be the perception that we don’t do anything with the results. The wheels of change do turn, although it can be slow at times. However, you have to start somewhere and in some cases, people need to hear the same message several times before it truly sinks in so don’t give up!

The results of the FAS Values Surveys for FY 2005-06 and 2006-07 have lead to many initiatives which have either happened or are well on their way to fruition. We have improved our communication to FAS employees through the FAS E-News; the first CSUSM Leadership Academy will begin in October 2008; and we partnered with Extended Learning to bring outside experts to our campus to provide us with tools to declare our workplace gossip-free and resolve conflicts while preserving important working relationships. In addition, we continue to work on improving accountability and formalizing alternate work schedules.

Make CSUSM the best place “to work and study” by taking the FAS Values Survey today!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It May Be May Gray, But Not for FAS

May sure has been a busy month for FAS as we wind down the spring semester and gear up for year end!

This year’s Spring Fling was truly wonderful and I am grateful to the PEER Team and Spring Fling Planning Committee for the hard work that goes into making this annual event a success. Thank you for making President Haynes, First Gentleman Jim Mickelson and the President’s staff feel very welcome; I know they had a great time and always look forward to the invitation. Congratulations to all the nominees and award winners for personifying and exemplifying what Responsibility, Trustworthy, Professionalism, Encouragement, Service, Excellence and Collaborative mean in our ever changing and evolving work lives.

This month, I also had the opportunity to attend my first CSUSM commencement ceremony as a member of the platform party. It was both memorable and inspiring and the true reason why we are all here…to support and promote student success. A special thank you to the FAS employees who volunteered their time to ensure commencement was an enjoyable experience for the graduates and their families: Chief Ronald Hackenberg, Lt. Robert McManus, Sgt. Timothy Dow, Sgt. Jesus Flores, Officer Yosaren Panza, Community Service Officers John Hall, Hiram Lopez, Billy Barron, Bryan Alt (UPD); Edward Johnson, Ellen Hawthorne, Gerard McQuade, Craig Curtis, Sid Alvarez, Cal Kidd, Megan Simpson, Cheryl Zwack and Rosie Peterson (FDM), Bruce Bradley (HRRM), and Marietta Kimball and Charlene Montalvo (BFS).

I hope all of you were able to attend the workshop entitled “If You Can’t Say Something Nice, What DO You Say?" conducted by Sarita Maybin. What an opportunity to listen and gain insights and perspectives from someone like Sarita who left the secure world of university administration (some may disagree with this one) and venture into self-employment as a speaker and trainer. The part of the session that stood out for me was Brave, Braver and Bravest. You can choose to not “go there” or get to the heart of the issue by seeking the underlying intent of the words or actions. It takes guts to be able to respond to negative remarks made by others while preserving relationships. No one way is better than the other….assess the situation and decide for yourself. How brave are YOU

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Off to a Great Start...

Believe it or not, it has been a little over three months since Vice President Hoss walked into my office and asked “Got a minute?” I could tell from the look on his face that what he had to say was very important. However, I was totally unprepared for what I heard since my mind was made up that 2008 was the year I would buckle down and finish my dissertation since I probably have the oldest active student ID number at Alliant International University. One thing I have learned in my career is to be ready to be called off the bench at any time because opportunities will not come at perfect times, but rather at the more imperfect ones.

According to Michael Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders”, he suggests that evidence of “quick wins” sets a positive tone for a new leader. I will share some of the quick wins I have experienced since assuming the role as your leader for Finance and Administrative Services.

As counterintuitive as this sounds, the news of the state budget crisis created the first early wins. It provided an opportunity for FAS Leadership Council to come together and rally around a common goal: How can we as a division address the budget challenge while providing quality, high level services to the campus community? A way to look at this is to start with the end in mind. How do we want the picture to look when whatever spending reductions we need to make are in place? What is clear is we can achieve our vision elements of collaboration, laughter, inviting, excitement, communication, innovation and finest. We do this by celebrating, coaching, marketing, and focusing on our human and physical environments. A few weeks ago, my direct reports and I participated in an all day retreat and not once did the words “budget cuts” come up. Now that is a quick WIN!

I also survived my first “mini-crisis” which occurred during spring break. Roof work was being done on Craven Hall which necessitated the evacuation of the 5th and 6th floors of the building for the afternoon which thankfully, was on a Friday. In collaboration with the incredible team of Katy Rees, Ellen Cardoso, Gina Frasca, Steve Watters and Gary Cinnamon, decisions were made and implemented that were in the best interests of our employees and the campus. Now that is a quick WIN!

As leaders, it is important to recognize that people want results but they also want to be part of the solution. Give full and undeniable to credit to those who support the University’s vision, mission and goals. They will return that support when times become challenging and indeed, they will. Respect for one and respect for all: that is the ultimate WIN!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bright Future Ahead

Approximately two years ago, our University was characterized by a local newspaper as a quiet giant emerging in the North County. We work for California State University San Marcos, a college noted as one of the fastest growing campuses in the CSU; a region noted for its abundance of sunshine and a state noted for its historical commitment to higher education.

It is truly remarkable how far and fast we have come as campus since those early days at Jerome’s. However, true challenges lie before us that give us cause to reflect while others may persuade us to stay where we are and rest. This University was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. Our university will continue to grow and prosper….we move forward.

What does this picture look like? I hear laughter coming from the conference room in the Vice President’s Office on a daily basis….Katy and Bella, your laughs are contagious and put a smile on our faces. I always feel welcome when I go to Cougar Central and experience the wonderful, inviting service provided by Mary, Nancy and the staff at Student Financial Services.

Collaboration is the essence of what we do and who we are whether it is helping a faculty member plan a car wash, listening to student concerns regarding increasing parking permit fees, the implementation of a Universal Pass program for Sprinter riders, or the implementation of our future Leadership Academy. Innovation...Dora is making a difference in the lives of our faculty by installing a copier for their use in the Library. Minor and insignificant….not to an instructor who is late to class due to traffic and needs copies of a test in 15 minutes.

I see excitement at our division meetings….excitement in the hearts of Planning, Design and Construction as they share their worlds with us. The finest…we demonstrated to the campus we are the finest at Academic Senate last week with a presentation by Lt. Miller accompanied by Russ and Dora.

We choose this picture and not because it is easy…it will be full of challenges. It is who we are…laughing, inviting, innovative, collaborative, excited and the finest. Changing our current reality requires all of us to deploy our best skills and energies. This challenge is one we accept, one we will not postpone and one we achieve not as one division but as one university.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Continuing a Great Tradition

Dear FAS Employees,

In keeping with great traditions, I will be posting regularly to a new blog called "Hawk Talk". VP Hoss originated his blog as a way to regularly communicate with all of you. It was an opportunity for you to get to know him better, learn about the latest ongoings in the division and campus, and to find out more about his leadership style and philosophy. I plan on continuing this practice by posting my thoughts and updates on the latest hot topics for our division. I hope that we can have a two-way dialogue so that I may know your thoughts about various things that I post. Please feel free to leave comments on my blog entries. I want you all to know that I’m excited and honored to lead this wonderful division, and to working with all of you.