Zelezny reflects back on first year as president

CSUB President, Lynnette Zelezny, signing student achievement certificates in her office on April 30, 2019.

Fernanda Martinez

CSUB President, Lynnette Zelezny, signing student achievement certificates in her office on April 30, 2019.

Fernanda Martinez, Editor-in-Chief

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CSU Bakersfield President Lynnette Zelezny is approaching the end of her first year in office. Zelezny came into office last July when former president Horace Mitchell retired after serving the university for 14 years.

Throughout the year, Zelezny has been at the forefront of the university, getting to know everyone on campus.

“I feel this has been a great first start,” said Zelezny.

During the week leading up to her investiture ceremony, Zelezny’s office was filled with gifts and flowers, including the shawl gifted to her from the Tejon Indian Tribe during the Stewards of the Land event.

These were just a few of the many ways people expressed gratitude to her.

One of Zelezy’s main goals this year was to draft the university five-year strategic plan, which would outline specific themes that the university wants to strengthen.

“We are at a very important juncture where we are no longer a small California State University. So, this is a very significant time to be building,” said Zelezny.

Zelezny said that the first and primary driver of the plan is student success.

One of her long-term goals is to increase student enrollment to hopefully 18,000 students. While there is no specific deadline for this, Zelezny said the strategic plan will help define this, keeping in mind what resources to align with that growth.

Zelezny’s student involvement has been visible to others on campus.

Academic Senate Chair, Deborah Boschini, said in an email that it has been a pleasure to work with Zelezny.

“[Zelezny] keeps students at the center of our conversations and decisions,” said Boschini. “Dr. Zelezny meets with the Academic Senate regularly and has demonstrated that she really cares about our shared work at CSUB.”

If there is one student who has gotten to work closely with the president, it is Ashley Schmidt, Associated Students, Inc. president.

“It was a wonderful experience being able to work with a new campus president and to help bridge a connection and help establish an example of what is expected from the students for a university president,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt feels that Zelezny has been very open and accommodating with students.

“Not a lot of university presidents just in general across the nation can do that, and that is a very unique situation to our campus,” said Schmidt.

Zelezny mentioned that she is not afraid of the challenges that come along with being a university president.

“I see challenges as opportunities,” said Zelezny. “We had a few opportunities come forward and these were exciting opportunities.”

One of these new opportunities is working with Bakersfield College to create a satellite campus at CSUB. Zelezny said it was not on her radar but it was a great opportunity she did not want to miss.

“That is how I approach things that some may say is a challenge. I see them just as great opportunities in front of us,” said Zelezny.

In the coming year, the campus can expect to see what Zelezny calls “strategic plan 2.0.” which is to launch the first ever comprehensive capital campaign to create funding for the themes of the strategic plan.

Renovations on campus will also be seen. The Performing Arts Building will be one of the first buildings to be revamped, according to Zelezny. Faculty office space will also be added across campus and Golden Empire Transit has partnered with the university to renovate the bus transportation circle near the flag poles.

Zelezny feels optimistic about the future of CSUB. She plans to continue to be as open as she has been this year through Runner Walk and Talks and open forums.

“All of this is continuous. This is part of who we are now,” said Zelezny.