Leadership in hard times is more difficult because of the continual stream of bad news, Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes told students Tuesday during the “In the Executive’s Chair” class. Leaders are forced to communicate messages that most people are unhappy about, Haynes said.
After the state legislature slashed the budget of the California State University system, Haynes made the decision to limit Cal State San Marcos students’ course loads to 13 units per semester, in order to ensure equitable access to fewer courses offerings. The decision was an unpopular one, particularly following an increase in tuition approved by the board of trustees.
With reduced services, increased fees and class sizes, public universities in California will no longer be the leaders they once were, Haynes said. The challenge for leaders is to communicate with legislators that the result will be a shortage of educated workers in California.
“If you shortchange higher education in California, you will not have that educated workforce,” Haynes said.
As a newer and smaller campus, Cal State San Marcos is uniquely challenged by the budget shortfall. Approximately 85 percent of the state budget consists of personnel, and higher education in California must cut 20 percent of its staff to help balance the budget. While at many larger Cal State campuses, layoffs mean reducing a department’s staff of four employees to three, at Cal State San Marcos, it could mean eliminating the only employee in a department. The cuts will be felt more substantially because of the small size of the university, Haynes said.
“It hits us in several ways differently,” Haynes said. “Sometimes in more difficult ways.”
Haynes has found herself in a leadership role during a trying time for higher education, a position she never expected to attain when she began her career as a social worker. Attracted to social work by the values of the self determination of individuals, neutrality of professional perspective and the value of every human being; Haynes tries to carry those principles with her into the field of higher education.
As president of Cal State San Marcos, Haynes has forged preferred enrollment partnerships with under served school districts, Native American tribes and foster youth programs to ensure access to higher education.
She draws her leadership style primarily from observing undesirable approaches over the course of her career. As a leader, she believes optimism is imperative, as is a balance between personal and professional life. She finds time at home is invaluable in helping her succeed in her professional life.
“Resiliency in leadership is incredibly important,” Haynes said.
As a woman in the male dominated field of higher education, Haynes has battled “explicit gender discrimination” in both pay and promotions throughout her career, she said.
Her education at a women’s college at which the majority of the students went on to pursue higher education gave her the foundation and role models to stand up to such discrimination.
Despite budget problems, Cal State San Marcos is a university where students can build similar strong relationships with faculty, Haynes said.
Professors at Cal State San Marcos work to forge interpersonal relationships with students, conduct research and scholarship in their fields, and encourage students to pursue internships and extracurricular activities, Haynes said.
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