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Cal State San Marcos President Touts Diversity While Students Protest

Photo by Alison St John

California State University San Marcos campus, Feb. 4, 2016.

Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes delivered an annual "Address to the Community," describing diverse and growing student enrollment. Meanwhile, students protested changes in the campus diversity office.

The audience for President Karen Haynes’ annual Address to the Community was the biggest in her 12-year tenure. More than 600 people showed up before breakfast to hear her accounting of the year’s achievements and her vision for the California State University at San Marcos’ growth.

Former Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler introduced Haynes, saying the university has an economic impact on the region of $230 million a year.

Haynes said achieving the "American Dream" now requires a higher education, but she warned that by 2030 California will suffer a gap of 1.1 million between the number of students graduating and the state workforce's demand for employees with a degree.

“Think about that,” she said. “To plug such a gap would require admitting almost 75,000 more students to California institutions of higher education each and every year.“

Instead, Haynes said, the state budget allows for only 3,500 more students system wide this year: a one percent increase.

With community support, student body has grown by 24 percent in the last three years, the highest percentage growth in the CSU system, Haynes said.

For the past three years, more than half the students who graduate from CSUSM are the first in their family to complete a four year degree, she said.

Most of those students use their education to get jobs locally; Haynes said 80 percent of CSUSM graduates remain in the area after earning their degree.

Haynes’ focus is on meeting the needs of the local workforce. She said the campus is adding new courses, including degrees in wildfire science, water management, cyber security and — to meet the demands of the burgeoning craft beer sector — a program on the business of brewing called "Engibeering."

Haynes said Cal State San Marcos has more per capita veterans, Native Americans and foster youth among its students than any other campus in the CSU system.

Protest

However, as the president spoke about diversity on campus, a group of about a dozen students chanted outside, protesting what they said was the firing of Arturo Ocampo, associate vice president of the Office of Diversity, Educational Equity and Inclusion.

Sociology student Selena Arellano said Ocampo was popular with students, and they do not understand why he was let go. She said he has helped increase faculty diversity on campus by 16 percent. Arellano also said students are unhappy that the Office of Diversity is being moved into the Office of Community Engagement.

CSUSM Public Information Officer Margaret Chantung confirmed that Ocampo is no longer with the university. Chantung said she understands why students would be "shocked and saddened," by Ocampo’s departure, but she could not comment on a personnel matter.

Ocampo’s departure coincides with a change in which the Office of Diversity will report to the vice president of Community Engagement, rather than directly to Haynes.

Chantung said the move does not mean diversity is dead, but is designed to strengthen efforts to promote diversity campus-wide. She said the three-person staff in the Office of Diversity will be part of a bigger team with more resources.

Chantung said the Vice President of Community Engagement, Patricia Prado-Olmos, has 20 years of working to increase diversity, and has launched a national search for Ocampo’s replacement.

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