President Gayle Hutchinson boosts morale at Fall Convocation


Ronnie Bolser

President Gayle Hutchinson delivers her convocation speech on Aug. 18.

President Gayle Hutchinson was greeted by applause and high-fives as she entered Laxson Auditorium on Thursday to deliver her inaugural fall convocation speech.

In her speech, Hutchinson emphasized the importance of transparency and shared governance in her administration.

Hutchinson spoke to a crowded venue, and addressed issues such as diversity, staff salaries and increasing the number of tenure track positions.

“There is goodness in you, and there is a lot of extraordinary things happening here on campus, in the city, in the community, in the North State,” she said. “Yet, you tell me that morale is low. Well, we are going to change that.”

Hutchinson went on to state her goals for this academic year which included,

  • Improving campus climate
  • Restoring shared governance
  • Fostering student achievements
  • Building diverse and inclusive communities
  • Exploring opportunities and support innovation

To better understand the issues on campus and therefore be better equipped to achieve these goals, Hutchinson embarked on a 100-day listening tour. Beginning on July 1, her first day in office, Hutchinson started visiting different people and social groups across campus to listen to their concerns and input.

“I want to hear from you about our strengths and challenges as an institution,” Hutchinson said. “I will continue to listen to you as I have the greatest respect for you.”

“(And) in the spirit of full disclosure, I never stopped listening to you since I left here three years ago” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson’s term as president follows the Academic Senate’s no-confidence resolution last December, which stated that faculty and staff had lost faith in administrative figures such as former President Paul Zingg, former Interim Provost Susan Elrod and former Vice President for Business and Finance Lori Hoffman.

Betsy Boyd, chair of the Academic Senate and professor in the college of agriculture, said last year was “monumentally rough,” but expressed optimism and excitement about working with Hutchinson this year.

“This year brings promise of reinvesting in the principals of shared governance, and with it, tremendous opportunity for engagement and setting real, tangible goals,” Boyd said.

With this in mind, Hutchinson and Associated Students President Michael Pratt, along with other university officials, are drafting a statement of shared governance. The draft will be shared with the campus community to gain their input, and a signing ceremony will be held once the statement is finalized later this fall.

Hutchinson also plans to reevaluate the implementation of Executive Order 1000, a CSU-wide order that allows campus presidents to “manage funds and approve certain fiscal transactions.”

Finally, Hutchinson also hopes to fill the positions of vice provost of academic affairs and vice president of business and finance by the end of the academic year.

“We will continue to be a leader in higher education,” Hutchinson said. “We will sustain academic excellence as well as invest in opportunities that shape the university and the community in ways that are inclusive, progressive and sustainable. And we will do so by continuing to place our students at the center of everything we do.”

After the address, A.S. President Michael Pratt stated, “I feel really encouraged that we are on a really good track. It’s really uplifting and I think students are in a really good position to benefit from all the hard work.”

President Gayle Hutchinson delivers her convocation speech on Aug. 18.
Ronnie Bolser
President Gayle Hutchinson delivers her convocation speech on Aug. 18.

Molly Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or @SullivanMollyM on Twitter.