A first-generation college student on his way to becoming a lawyer. A 65-year-old college graduate who never gave up on her dreams. The daughter of immigrants finishing up her doctorate degree.
Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn shared just a few of the countless success stories to come from the university during her annual Fall Welcome Address on Monday, illustrating how “Valley tough” students like Alejandro Martinez, Althea McClam and Rocio Garcia go beyond the norm of the typical college experience by pursuing not just a degree, but personal success.
Turlock’s university provided them with that opportunity, she said.
“Because of their success in college, because they are strong enough to attempt college and brave enough to engage their teachers, they go on to become leaders in the region and beyond,” Junn said.
It was the third time Junn has welcomed the university community back to school since she took the helm of Stanislaus State in 2016, and the address coincided with the start of fall semester classes. The university this year welcomed its largest-ever incoming freshman class at 1,586 strong, many of whom moved into the dorms on Saturday.
“The fall semester brings a fresh start for some, and truly an opportunity for all who are interested in bringing renewed energy, ideas and collaborative efforts to continuing the remarkable trajectory and transformation of our beloved Stanislaus State,” Junn said.
To celebrate Stanislaus State’s newcomers and returning students, faculty and staff alike, Junn touted some of the university’s most recent accomplishments, emphasizing that further collaboration will bring more success and continue to attract students from all over the region.
“The news about what we’re accomplishing at Stan State has spilled over our campus boundaries,” she said. “We continue to receive high praise on the national level for the quality of education we offer and the value we add to the lives of our students.”
Most recently, Stanislaus State was named as one of the nation’s top 384 colleges (or top 12 percent in the nation) by the “Princeton Review” for the thirteenth consecutive year — just one of only three California State Universities to make the cut. “Money Magazine” also recently moved the university up from 82nd to 49th on its list of the nation’s best colleges for the money, and Stanislaus State is 31st in the nation on the same list among public schools.
The accolades will continue to pour in during the coming years thanks in part to the University Strategic Plan, which Junn introduced last year and serves as a “thoughtful, living, breathing document” that will guide Stanislaus State through 2025.
Well underway, the plan is already benefitting students this school year thanks to its focus on technology. Since the end of the spring 2017 semester, 40 Stanislaus State classrooms have been enhanced by technological upgrades, multiple technology-enhanced “Active Learning Classrooms” have been developed on campus and a new head of Information Technology has been hired.
The university has also taken steps to improve its four-year graduation rate, Junn added, including the addition of over 200 course sections, tuition waivers for students on the cusp of graduating, more major-based advising with faculty and more intensified advising in the departments and colleges.
As a result, Stanislaus State improved its six-year freshman graduation rate and its two-year and four-year transfer graduation rates.
The accomplishments and improvements at Stanislaus State are all part of a larger goal: a vision of the university as a school of choice and distinction among its other CSU counterparts, Junn said, not only attracting more students and more success stories, but increasing the value of a Stanislaus State degree as well.
“I hope a pattern is starting to emerge for you and you are starting to hear the difference we are making,” Junn said. “We are not only changing the trajectory of our students’ lives; Stan State is helping to positively shape the Central Valley region.”