Monday, December 19, 2011

Reflections of 2011

First, I want to say thank you for welcoming me into your departments during my annual holiday walk-around. It was fun to drop in and visit for a bit – I hope you all enjoyed the cookies!

As 2011 comes to an end, I want to thank all of you for the hard work and continued efforts you have demonstrated throughout the year. I am proud to lead this division and thankful for each of you and your commitment to our university. FAS is, without a doubt, the finest division within the CSU, and this greatness is attributed to the fine work you all do each day.

This past year, we had some outstanding achievements, and I would like to take a moment to recognize a few of our accomplishments:

• CSUSM ranked #1 in California for safety
• Commencement returned to campus
• First on-campus flash mob - 
• The baseball team played their first home-game on our new field
• Recognized as RecycleMania Grand Champions for 7 years running
• Converted PeopleSoft Legacy to the Common Financial System (CFS)
• Re-launched the Leadership Academy and included staff in this year's cohort
• Partnered with Follett to manage our bookstore and provide enhanced services to the campus community
• Opened the Public Safety Building and the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building
• “The Quad” Ground Breaking
• Received the California Challenge Award
• And we had another successful year-end close

I could probably spend half of the day writing about the achievements of FAS, but I’ll keep it short because I know many of you are ready to start your holiday break :)

Thank you again for your good work and for helping us accomplish our many goals. I hope you all enjoy the holiday break and have a chance to spend quality time with your families.

See you in 2012!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thank You for Bringing Commencement Home!

I’d like to personally thank all of you who volunteered your time to make this year’s Commencement a success! 1,545 graduates from the Class of 2011 attended our three ceremonies over a two-day period, with more than 18,000 of their family members and friends. This event could not have been pulled off without your time, support, and dedication.

Many of the guests experienced our beautiful campus for the first time, and you left a great impression. As you know, our Commencement ceremonies were held off campus in Del Mar for the past ten years, so this was no small feat to bring Commencement back home.

Thank you for the countless hours of planning and work you did in order to make this a success. I received regular updates over the past few months from Lt. Doug Miller and Robert Williams on all of the details and plans leading up to the events. Even with the best laid plans, we expected glitches and lessons learned. I was pleasantly amazed to see how beautifully the days went.

I’ve heard positive comments from the President, members of the Executive Council, faculty, staff, students, and families who were all pleased with the work you did. I have a list of all of those who helped with Commencement and I will be bringing by a token of my appreciation to thank you for your time and hopefully provide you with a memory of the event.

I am proud of the fine members of this division, and I thank you for successfully returning Commencement to campus and for leaving a positive impression on all who experienced the festivities.

Pictures from the event may be found on the Campus Facebook page -

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Blog: The FDM Transformation

A guest blog by Gary Cinnamon.

As I look back over the past year, I am amazed at what FDM was able to accomplish: the completion of Social and Behavioral Sciences building, Public Safety Building, CSUSM Temecula Campus, our new Baseball Field, and many smaller projects that are too numerous to name.

But as great as these accomplishments are, and the entire Department should be proud of themselves for contributing to building the campus, these projects are just physical things. Over time as projects transform and move from the “design and construction” phase to the “operation and maintenance” phase they will fall from people's memories as great accomplishments and simply become the “day to day job”. Mind you, that is not bad, just a reality. The emotions tied to accomplishments just do not last forever. With that said, there is one small accomplishment within FDM that will continue to transform us, the FDM REORGANIZATION.

The FDM reorganization was originally conceived to address various initiatives on energy and sustainability. At the time, I thought this reorganization would be a fairly simple endeavor, move a few people around and create the department of Sustainability and Utility Services within FDM. However, what was simple in concept has in fact been a difficult and continuous effort on the part of all within FDM. What started, long before I was in the picture, as two nearly autonomous groups of people, one group constructing buildings, and the other operating and maintaining them, with hardly a word spoken between them, has been transformed into four aligned and collaborating departments with four areas of expertise:
  • Facilities Services—Experts in facility operation and maintenance
  • Planning Design and Construction—Experts in development of capital projects
  • Sustainability and Utilities Services—Experts in energy management and sustainable practices
  • FDM Administration—Experts in policy, procedures, budgets, and money
Unlike our “accomplishments” of designing, building, and operating facilities, which eventually fade from memory, our four departments, simply conceived, will continue to evolve and improve on a daily basis. We will strive for excellence and focus on the solutions that will make all of Facilities Development and Management an “accomplishment” within itself for years to come.

Six months ago at our FAS Division meeting I promised three things to FDM:
  • I will make myself more visible to all FDM employees.
  • I will clarify and standardize all FDM Operating Procedures.
  • I will listen to what employees say, and collaborate to create strategic solutions that meet the needs of our employees as well as the Campus.
Since I’ve said those words I’ve worked at trying to inject them into my daily life on campus, maybe not always successful but always with enthusiasm. As we all work toward making FDM a better organization it is clear to me that the words above are no longer “I” statements, but rather they are “We” statements.
  • We make ourselves more visible to our fellow employees-we are a team and work for the betterment of our fellow team members.
  • We help each other to understand and clarify our jobs within all of FDM.
  • We communicate; we listen to each other; we collaborate; and we all create strategic solutions that meet the needs of each of us, FDM and our Campus.
I congratulate each and every one of the employees of FDM for their accomplishments for the year and years to come. You have all performed a JOB WELL DONE.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guest Blog: Committing to the Values Survey

A Guest Blog by Katy Rees.

The FAS Values Survey is near and dear to my heart. When we first launched it several years ago, we weren’t sure how it would affect our culture. It’s been amazing to watch our response rates grow, to know that we entrust VP Hawk with our honest comments, and to invest in making the FAS culture better each year. It has also been interesting for me to be a proponent of the Values Survey – championing the improvement of our workplace climate, to now being a manager who is directly responsible for nurturing that in my departments. I am fortunate enough to lead the great folks from the VP’s Office as well as Risk Management & Safety. These teams are composed of dedicated, talented and wonderful individuals who make my job a labor of love. They deserve a leader who walks the talk and who is accountable for her actions. It was easy to develop my three commitments, because they are actions that I wanted to take for many months; this simply gave me the excuse to publicly commit to achieving them.

The three commitments I made at our division meeting are:
  • I will become more purposeful with my time by setting a proactive schedule
  • I will schedule quarterly informal meetings and conversations with each staff member
  • I will communicate a clear vision, and set long-term and short-term plans for my units
The first one is easier said than done. It seems simple to just stick to my schedule and to plan out my week with more purpose. Unfortunately, I had fallen prey to a hectic calendar full of meetings, and didn’t spend enough time preparing for a well-thought-out week. I analyzed the frequency, duration and topics of my meetings to ensure that I was the correct person to attend each committee meeting, to make time for 1:1 meetings, and to ensure I had prep time before and after crucial meetings so I could follow up on action items. My goal is to set a proactive and purposeful schedule that honors my colleagues’ time, and to conduct useful meetings. I am still working on getting this goal just right, but I now plan out my week instead of merely having my week happen to me.

My second commitment was to spend more informal time with each staff member. The work day gets busy and it’s too easy to assume that each person feels heard, and has access to time with me. I scheduled a coffee meeting and a lunch with each staff member. This has proved to be invaluable to me, and it’s something I plan on continuing. I had the opportunity to get to know each person personally and professionally. We talked about professional development plans, career goals, brainstormed ideas for how to improve our work practices, and I was able to learn about each person’s unique strengths and aspirations. I asked for input on how I could improve as a leader and how I could better support them or their department. Most importantly, I feel that I’ve become more accessible to each staff member and that I’m better in touch with how I could improve as a leader. Once again – I still have a lot to learn and many improvements to make, but this has proven to be a great use of time and a wonderful initiative.

Finally, I committed to communicating a clear vision, and setting long-term and short-term plans for my units. This third commitment greatly depends on doing the first two commitments well. I needed to be purposeful with my time, make time for the important things, and to leverage that knowledge into setting a compelling vision with supporting plans. I’m now at that juncture with my team to have those conversations, to plan our next steps, and to paint a picture for where we want to be. I’ll let you know how it goes. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Guest Blog: A New Era for BFS

This month's guest blogger is Mary Hinchman.

Several months ago the Business and Financial Services Leadership Team (BFSLT), set out to create a new and compelling direction for Business and Financial Services. We saw it as an opportunity to improve the way we have been doing things and to put any ‘Business As Usual’ attitude behind us as we moved into a new era in BFS. Each and every one of BFSLT – Bella, Chris, Dan, David, Liz and Nancy – embraced the idea of formulating a new direction for BFS. Based on input gathered from everyone in BFS, we came up with what we believe is a composite view of where we have been, what we can do to improve, and how we can achieve the highest level of efficiency in the way we do things. This ongoing process - a process which has shown commitment, determination, dedication and perseverance, was thorough and detailed and has proven what a great team BFSLT is.

The strength of BFS is in the hands of those who make it work. In order to meet financial challenges at levels never before encountered at CSUSM, new strategies and techniques had to be made available to everyone. Providing staff with tools for success in all avenues of personal and professional development continues to create a cutting-edge attitude of ‘yes we can’ at every level. This translates into an overall confidence in being able to meet any issue that arises.

This shared confidence is never more evident than it is within BFSLT. Our reasoning at the onset of the issues facing us today was that we could do nothing less than ‘walk the talk’. If we expect staff to embrace innovation and grow together as a team, BFSLT must embrace these characteristics even more, and beyond that must be able to exhibit these qualities. A commitment to responsible leadership has been reaffirmed in all of us. I am very proud to say that this attitude continues to grow exponentially and has been the guiding force for us as we shaped our new vision.

BFS has many accomplishments and successes to celebrate. None of these would ever be possible without the dedication and commitment of our staff. This is a team that knows how to work together, knows how much hard work it takes to get the job done, and embraces every opportunity that comes up. All our hard work is exemplified in the new mission and vision that Business and Financial Services launched recently. Our motto: Excellence in Service and Resource Management serves us well as we confidently adopt and support the components of our new BFS vision:

Through our innovative business solutions we process accurate and timely data. Our proficient and empowered team adheres to the highest standards and our systems and processes provide resources to our customers efficiently and effectively.

Together we are alive, and together we make a difference.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Public Service Recognition Week

In honor of Public Service Recognition Week, which has been designated by Congress for the week of May 1-7, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the outstanding work you do each day in support of our students and the State of California. Your hard work, dedication and service to this campus are noticed and appreciated. I have the pleasure of witnessing firsthand your remarkable contributions and achievements and am extremely proud to lead this division. Thank you for your sustained commitment to FAS and our campus.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest Blog: Change your Picture – Change the Outcome

This month's guest blogger is Joanne Shydian.

The other day I was feeling a little stressed thinking about how to go about implementing several ideas that a team of HR&PS employees came up with in response to the Values Survey results. Their ideas are terrific, and include: monthly e-news from the AVP’s Office; the implementation of an HR&PS internal employee recognition program; a regularly scheduled Q&A session with the AVP and group of HR&PS employees, and a monthly “have lunch with the AVP” program, among other things. In addition, I’ve also committed to meet with every Human Resources and Payroll Services employee individually to hear directly from them their ideas, what’s working well, professional development and career aspirations, and what specifically they would like to see changed in their work environment.

I was feeling stressed because it seemed like all I could focus on was how: how to work out the administrative details in creating the “programs” and how to accomplish all of it when my days are already filled to the brim (something I know everyone reading this blog can relate to!). Then it struck me. The stress I was feeling was a direct result of my focus on how I had too much on my plate and not enough time in the day. I clearly needed an attitude adjustment! I realized it was time for me to change the way I was thinking. Holding on to my current belief (too much to do, too little time), was only causing more stress.

So, I’ve stopped worrying about the how (worrying is negative goal setting after all) and I now spend my time more productively painting the picture (in my mind) of the goal/outcome; an efficient work environment where employees are fully engaged in providing input, and are routinely recognized for their contributions. After all, isn’t that really the result we’re after, what we’re all striving to achieve?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Recognize Your Peers!

Wow! Can you believe that this is the 15th anniversary of the Peer Recognition Program!

I hope all of you will take a moment to reflect on the outstanding work and efforts of your FAS colleagues and submit a nomination to recognize their contributions to our campus. If I were to call out each of our guiding principles, I bet you could attach a name to each one – there are so many employees in FAS who embody our guiding principles, and I look forward to recognizing all of our nominees at the Spring Fling event.

Don’t forget to nominate soon because time is running out! Nominations will be accepted until Monday, March 7th. Follow the link to submit a nomination:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


As promised, I've asked each of the FAS Leadership Council members to write a guest blog.  Our latest guest blogger is Chief Ron Hackenberg...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… These are the first words of the book “A Tale of Two Cities” written by Charles Dickens in 1859. As I read those words over 150 years later, I believe it applies to our current climate in 2011.

It is not too hard to figure out why we can refer to our present day as the “worst of times”. Budget cuts have been hitting us like waves coming over a boat for the past three years. One wave hits, and just as you seem to have recovered, another one hits. These unprecedented cuts have taken the CSU system down to budget levels from over ten years ago, but with about 70,000 more students. It is painful at the system level, but it is also very painful at the personal level. Many of our employees have been working more than three years without a pay increase, during which some have been blessed with several children and other additional responsibilities.

So when will this budget crisis end? I don’t think anyone really knows for sure, and that is one of the aspects of this current situation that is very challenging. A couple of years ago, the FAS leadership team read the book “Good to Great”, by Jim Collins. The book cites something called the “Stockdale Paradox”, referring to the late Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was taken prisoner during the Viet Nam War, and was held in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp. Many of his fellow prisoners did not survive, and Stockdale made some observations about those that did survive, and those that didn’t.

Prisoners that were pessimistic and felt they would never survive were often times right, and that may not be too surprising. But what was remarkable to me was that very optimistic people who set a specific timeline for release (such as “we will be out by Christmas”) did not survive either. Those that survived were “realistic optimists“. They knew they would survive and they knew things would get better. But they also had a firm grasp of reality- that things currently were bad, and may be bad for some time. They didn’t set a time limit for their release. They were sure things would improve, but they didn’t know when.

The “Stockdale Paradox” can also be applied to current this fiscal crisis. Our nation has survived many economic downturns, and has always come back. But will it get better by this fall, fiscal year 12/13, or two years from now? We just don’t know. But we do know things will get better.

So why is today the “best of times”? These are the best of times because we have smart, consistent leadership at the university and the division level. When each “wave” has hit us, the water recedes, and there we are- standing tall, still delivering excellent service, still meeting all of our challenges. And yes- even still moving forward. When the first budget cuts hit in early 2008, employees at UPD made a promise to ourselves and this campus community that we would continue to move forward toward our vision, no matter what. And we have delivered on that promise.

During these past three years of budget cuts, we have met every challenge that has come our way. Working closely with our campus community, we have apprehended several groups of persons that began to target the property of our campus community members, and also apprehended those who actually threatened the safety of individual members of our community. With the help of our community, we have kept this campus safe.

We have also made great progress in the area of Active Shooter Preparedness and with our Emergency Notification System. We have a system that is unique and that works in practical application, and we work hard to continuously improve. Perhaps even more importantly, we have initiated a Threat Assessment and Violence Prevention Program that has worked well. It is critical to intervene in potentially violent situations before they occur.

During these difficult past three years, our Parking and Commuter Services Division (PACS) has also been moving forward. We opened our first parking structure on campus, and were innovative in providing temporary and special event parking locations. We responded to the challenges associated with the Sprinter light rail train stopping on campus, by providing shuttle service to the main campus, subsidies for those that ride the Sprinter, and providing an ADA compliant van for a lunch shuttle and late evening transportation back to the Sprinter. And we have continued to provide the excellent customer service that PACS is known for.

Recently, we have implemented employee initiated ideas and programs, such as our K-9 and Motorcycle programs. Our employees have been innovative, and by “thinking outside the box“, we have been able to beg, borrow, (but not steal) the resources necessary to get these programs up and running. They are not only programs conceived by line level employees, but programs that are fiscally responsible and are in line with our mission of keeping this campus community safe.

Why is today the “best of times“? We are preparing to move into our new police station, and truly become one family- University Police, Parking and Commuter Services and Emergency Management. The possibilities for synergy are endless, with all of these talented and committed professionals under one roof.

Creativity and energy will be essential going forward. As President Haynes stated during a recent budget forum, and during her report to the community- we need to shift our thinking, and be focused on the future. CSUSM is still a growth university, just waiting to be turned loose. But we also need to face the reality that, even when the economy recovers, we may not return to the same level of state support we had in the past. We need to continue to work harder, smarter, creatively and with focus and clarity to be successful going forward.

So how will we do that? We will continue listen to our employees, and value their input. Whether proposing new programs, improving current processes or providing innovative ideas for training via our UPD Training Committee, we will be "turning loose" the creativity of some of the best and brightest employees I have ever served with, and I can’t wait to see the results.

Yes, today really is the “best of times“. Mindful of the Stockdale Paradox, we will stand tall and face our current reality, while being laser focused on the future. Our President is right, this is a growth university, and we need to be fully prepared for that future growth. To be effective when we resume our rapid growth, we must begin planning now- and we will do that, involving the expertise and creativity of all of our employees.

So when the fog of this economic downturn burns off under the bright Southern California sunshine, and this university is off and running, we need to start fast out of the blocks as well. And we will, because meeting challenges is what we do best.