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Borrego emphasizes teamwork, community in Stan State Fall Welcome Address
Susan Borrego
Stanislaus State Interim President Susan E. Borrego takes the stage at the Snider Recital Hall on Thursday morning ahead of her Fall Welcome Address (Photo courtesy of Stan State).

California State University, Stanislaus has welcomed 79 new hires since Jan. 10 to serve the Turlock campus of over 9,000 students. Of those hires was Susan E. Borrego, who accepted the position of interim president in April and officially began duties on Aug. 1. On Thursday morning, she kicked off the academic year with her Fall Welcome Address.

“I have been so excited to join you,” she said in her opening remarks. “I believe that regional comprehensive universities like Stan State provide transformational opportunities to students, their families and communities… To be here is really special for me.”

Prior to her appointment, Borrego most recently served as chancellor at the University of Michigan-Flint from 2014 to 2019 and has served a consultant project director and special assistant to the president for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. She explained that regional comprehensiveness is one of the main reasons why she decided to accept the position of interim president as soon as it was offered by Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester.

“When I got the call from Chancellor Koester, it was a no-brainer,” she said. “I knew about Stan State. I knew that it was one of the 23 CSU campuses. I knew it was in the Central Valley. And I also knew I wasn’t going to say no to it. I didn’t get into the salary or whether I was going to move or not. I just said yes because of it being a regional, smaller sized, Hispanic serving school. It’s literally the perfect environment for regional comprehensiveness. That’s what still floats my boat. This is the kind of work that is so transformative for both communities and individuals.”

Borrego had never visited Turlock or the Stanislaus State campus until her arrival in April upon accepting the interim president position. She gave many thanks to the campus community for helping make the transition as seamless as possible, emphasizing the impact of collaboration and teamwork and how it could help accomplish the goals of the institution.

“When I came in April and people asked me what my vision was, I’m not somebody who carries an individual vision. My vision is what the mission of this institution is. And my role is to support all of you here to help you achieve that,” she said. “I really do believe that their (students’) success is our success.”

It’s a mindset that she credited to her time as a college athlete. Fittingly, the Stan State women’s soccer team was front and center in the audience for the address.

“I was a college athlete, and I wasn’t as good as any of them,” Borrego joked. “But I had a heart and I worked hard, and every single day of my professional careers, I can use what I learned as a team sports athlete in the work I do. … Every single day of my life, being part of a team and thinking as part of a team has served me well.”

Some specific goals that Borrego shared are to improve enrollment, continue to garner philanthropic support, grow Stan State’s Stockton campus and help set the table for a permanent president.

In terms of enrollment, Stanislaus State has experienced struggles in trying to rebound to pre-pandemic numbers. In the fall of 2019, 10,975 students were enrolled. Heading into the fall 2022 semester, that number had dipped to 10,155. And while preliminary statistics only show the institution having over 9,000 individuals enrolled, Borrego remains optimistic.

“We hear noise related to the value of a college degree right now. Nearly every week, there’s a news story that alleges that college is no longer necessary or that it’s not worth the value. The degree isn’t worth what you spent. [But] we know that the data shows otherwise… Though there are more opportunities or openings, college degrees still situate students to make contributions in their communities. in ways that students without a college degree might not get the opportunity,” Borrego said, citing statistics from February’s Economic Value study.

“We have the opportunity, responsibility and privilege to create a learning environment that not only celebrates our differences but harnesses our power to move forward,” she continued. “Stan State is more than just a collection of buildings. It’s a vibrant tapestry of diverse backgrounds, perspectives and aspirations… Our diversity of thoughts and backgrounds is essential to a deep and rich educational experience.”