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ASI: Fresno State turns to CSU Northridge for insight on tablets

Fresno State Associated Students, Inc. President Moses Menchaca said the push for making digital tablets a part of the university’s curricula – an effort introduced by university President Joseph Castro – remains in its early stages.

Fresno State turned to CSU Northridge, which launched the MyCSUtablet Initiative that offers access to digital textbooks and materials to students, to get an idea of how the university operates its tablet program.

Menchaca and 14 school administrators visited the Northridge campus on Oct. 4 and will have a debriefing meeting to further discuss their findings.

Northridge’s tablet program is not campus wide. As of this fall, there are seven majors – biology, journalism, liberal studies, public health, physical therapy, kinesiology, engineering and computer science – that are making the switch to digital textbooks in their respective curriculums, according to the university’s website.

At Northridge, 70 professors offer “E-study” courses.  The school’s bookstore offers students the ability to purchase Apple iPads in either full payment or two- or three-semester payment plans.

“The first step is we had an Apple person come out and talk a little bit about their product and what can be done,” Menchaca said. “We visited CSU Northridge and looked at CSUN’s tablet program, which is just starting. We’re just going to continue to meet and look at that.”

CSU Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison said in a release that the initiative “represents the university’s commitment to explore new technologies to improve student learning and success, as well as reduce costs for students,” echoing similar views by Castro.

“I think it’s a good idea because I want every student to have access to the tools to be successful,” Castro said of the push for tablets in an August interview with The Collegian.

One of the questions that remains unanswered, Menchaca said, is pinpointing the student demographics that would benefit the most from using tablets. There is also the question of which courses and majors would be able to utilize tablets in their curricula.

The feasibility of Fresno State moving forward with a plan any time soon, Menchaca said, remains a stretch this early in the process.

“I don’t foresee this happening this year,” Menchaca told ASI senators and officers Wednesday. “It seems like there’s a lot more infrastructure that needs to go into place before we can even start considering having [students] use tablets specifically for courses.”

Provost search gains traction

The search for a new university provost continues as Fresno State makes a national search for a candidate to fill the position.

The search committee is in the process of deciding which national scholarly magazines to place job ads in, said Daniel Ward, senator-at-large for academic affairs and the student representative on the search committee.

The committee, Ward said, has met once, and is expected to meet more frequently before the Dec. 6 application deadline.

The search committee has teamed up with AGB Search, a national firm that specializes in helping universities in hiring for executive positions.

The position was left vacant after Dr. William Covino was appointed president at CSU Los Angeles in May. Interim provost Andrew Hoff, who came out of retirement to fill the position, will remain on the job through this semester.

The committee will host job finalists on campus visits, which will include open forums for staff and faculty, Castro said in an email to the campus community on Sept. 20.

Greek recruitment

More than 300 Fresno State students joined the Greek system this year, said Jason Oh, senator for Greek affairs.

About 160 women and 140 men were given bids to sororities and fraternities, with late bids still being given out.

The university delayed this year’s recruitment process six weeks – it usually begins the first full week of instruction – with the goal that incoming students would find it easier to adjust to college life.