President Robert S. Nelsen also had a special announcement.
Before his prepared speech, Nelsen asked the standing-room only crowd in a campus ballroom to applaud senior Anthony Sadler - who was not present.
Sadler is one of three Americans credited with stopping a gunman on a French train August 21.
After the applause, Nelsen said the school is "launching a website to collect funds to pay his tuition this year and to help pay off whatever loans he may have."
Nelsen also announced the fall enrollment has reached a record 30,023.
In his address, Nelsen outlined a 9-point work plan.
Among his initiatives are improving graduation rates.
"A 9 percent graduation rate for four-year students is unacceptable," says Nelsen. "A 46 percent graduation rate for six-year students is not acceptable either."
Nelsen says to improve those rates, the school will hire a "Graduation Initiative czar or czarina to coordinate and oversee our efforts. We will also be adding additional professional and faculty advisors."
"And we are enhancing support centers for our Dream Act students and for our African American students while continuing to support our Full Circle Project for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," Nelsen told the audience.
Reducing the time it takes a student to get a degree is another priority.
"We have important work to do to increase freshmen and transfer graduation rates, decrease time to degree and close the achievement gap," says Nelsen.
He also says it's "98 percent certain Sacramento State will get a new science building" but an official announcement is not expected until September.
Nelsen has only been on the job for a couple of months but he says there's a "mantra" he's heard from everyone.
"The word that I've heard most often here at Sac State, by both faculty and students, is 'bottleneck,'" says Nelsen. "We have bottlenecks everywhere, whether it is with registration, the absolute lack of courses or extremely difficult gateway courses."
Nelsen says the "graduation czar or czarina will be charged to identify and conduct an inventory of those bottlenecks and to work with the faculty, the deans, the advisors, the chairs - with everyone at the university - to eliminate those bottlenecks."
"Once we eliminate the bottlenecks and once we have the classes available that students need, we will give the students a $500 credit, a true financial incentive, toward the next semester for every semester that they take 15 hours," says Nelsen.
He says for those students not able to take 15 units during a semester, there is another option.
"Hence, for those students who are only capable of taking 12 units, we will offer them a $1,000 incentive/credit for taking an additional six hours in the summer," Nelson said, as the audience applauded.
Nelsen says the school is launching a capital campaign, "the first capital campaign for Sac State."
"We are finalizing the agenda for the campaign, focusing on the new buildings identified in the campus master plan and on scholarships for our students."
As he wrapped up his first Fall Address, Nelsen said his goal was "for you to get to know me."
An opportunity for audience questions followed the address. Nelsen concluded with saying, "I am honored that you came, I am humbled by this job, thanks for your support and help me raise some money."
The comment about money referenced his ninth initiative in his work plan, which is fundraising.
Students return for the Fall semester at Sacramento State Monday, August 31.
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