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An open forum was held at California State University, Stanislaus on Monday to discuss the potential permanency of Interim President Joseph Sheley. University students, trustees and department heads evaluated Sheley’s performance, pointing out both the good and areas in need of improvement throughout the campus.
Much of the university's tribulations over the past few years arose from system-wide budget cuts implemented due to lack of funding statewide. Like many other California universities, CSU Stanislaus was heavily impacted by the Great Recession. Starting from 2006, the university lost about $1 billion in funding, while seeing an increase in applications.
Through cuts, tuition increases and budget reapportionment, the campus has regained $550 million from the deficit. As it stands, the university is down $450 million from 2005 to 2007.
Out of 21 faculty members, 18 expressed support for Sheley at Monday's meeting while three remained indifferent.
“I understand how important the university is to this community and the students who have come from this university to serve in so many numbers and capacities,” said CSU trustee Roberta Achtenberg.
Some believe that 10 months is not an appropriate amount of time to judge Sheley’s performance.
According to John Sarraillé, president of the California Faculty Association, Sheley’s leadership still needs to be tested.
“I’m waiting to see what happens when we have a crisis,” Sarraillé said.
Most of the testimonies were in support of Sheley’s permanency at CSU Stanislaus.
“He has already been to our campus and has interacted with our students and become a part of the community,” said John Mayer, Theatre Department chair. “He’s been tremendously supportive of our endeavors and reawakened what’s going on at the Stockton campus.”
Jon Borba, professor of School Administration, also noted the kind of transformation Sheley has helped provide at CSU Stanislaus.
“He’s the right person for this community,” Borba said. “Not only the campus, but locally as well. I’ve watched him interact with community members at a number of events. He is down to earth and is the right person for this campus.”
When appointed to CSU Stanislaus in 2012, Sheley was only expected to stay on campus for about a year while the university searched for a permanent replacement following former President Hamid Shirvani’s seven year term.
As many testified during the forum, Shirvani’s reputation was laced with turbulent relations with faculty and students.
Attendees in the forum unanimously attributed Sheley to a positive shift in faculty relations.
The forum also gave the CSU Stanislaus community an opportunity to make suggestions for improvement.
Thomas J. Carter, professor and chair of Computer Science, testified that technology needs to be updated throughout the campus, especially for those who take classes through media.
The university community also recognized a lack of awareness among students, which many hoped to see improved.
Members of the audience addressed the fact that many students go to class and leave campus, remaining uninvolved.
“The campus has been on a wild ride the last five or six years,” said Paul O’Brien, Department of Sociology. “What we witnessed this year is some stability, and that is a positive for the university community. We as a department support him.”