New Sac State President Robert S. Nelsen got a standing ovation when he was introduced to hundreds of faculty and students at his first Fall Address on campus. He was surprised because he's only been on the job two months.
But the audience seemed to be enthusiastic about his "students first" mind set. Perhaps because he pledged to put an additional $2.6 million into beefing up faculty to help students graduate on time.
"There are bottlenecks everywhere," said Nelsen, when talking about the shortage of classes that keep students from graduating on time.
Nelsen also wants to create Friday and Saturday classes and online courses so students don't languish and take up space for incoming students.
The former head of the University of Texas-Pan American said he would back programs and aid for minority students including gay, lesbian and transgender students.
He also said he would increase efforts to raise funds in the community for projects like an events center, and he is having key administrators join the boards of nonprofit community groups to engage the community.
He's borrowing a strategy he used at his fromer school by offering a $500 incentive to students for taking a 15 unit class load so they can graduate in four years.
"That would definitely get students to graduate faster," said Senior Jason Lagao, who listened to the speech.
Sylvester Bowie, chair of the faculty senate, said he's optimistic about Nelsen's approach and will give him an opportunity to install his policies.
"He listens well and he's a doer," Bowie said.
Student Adriana Lopes is also excited, although she says talk is cheap.
"Everybody can talk ... we want to see the action. Not everyone can make those promises happen," Lopez said.