To the Editors,
I read with interest the Nov. 17 article in the Coyote Chronicle, “Student success fees receive criticism.” I just want to let you know that Dr. Alysson Satterlund (Dean of Students) and I (Dean of Undergraduate Studies) are the co-chairs of the Student Success Initiative Steering Committee, which manages the student success fee money for our campus. We are available to provide background information and comment for any articles you might be writing on this topic in the future. Both of us are new to campus, having just started in August, so we are looking forward to making connections with the Chronicle as well as others across campus.
There are a few misimpressions in the Nov. 17 article that we could help correct. For example, the Vital Technology Initiative is just one part of what the student success fee funds on our campus. The total income from the SSI fee will be around $2.9 million for CSUSB this academic year, and that money is being put to good use to improve the student experience and foster degree completion. A couple of important examples: the Career Center is largely funded through SSI, and this fall the university was able to hire six new professional academic advisors to help students navigate the path to graduation. Many of the peer advising centers, peer mentoring programs and free peer tutoring programs on campus are funded through this money—whenever possible we aim to hire students to do the work that will help other students succeed. Because of limited state funding and the inability to raise tuition rates, many of these things that support students would simply be impossible without the student success fee.
It might not be ideal to charge a mandatory additional fee—ideally the state would provide sufficient funding for its universities, or at least allow the campuses to charge sufficient tuition to operate effectively—but it is a good workaround in the current budgetary environment. And, of course, CSUSB’s Student Success Fee is significantly lower than that at most other CSU campuses.