After this year’s CSU Biotechnology Symposium in January, I notified CSUPERB leadership of my retirement on May 1. January seems like a very long time ago, but yesterday President Coley sent out the system-wide announcement (appended below).
Last fall I decided to retire because I know that CSUPERB is in such good shape and has so much going for it. CSUPERB leadership (President Coley, Kathie McReynolds, and Paula Fischhaber), the governance committees, the program office staff, PIs, and faculty systemwide make up a community of practice with a clear mission and strategic goals. CSUPERB is focused on its legislative mandate to “maintain and enhance its role in the preparation of the biotechnology workforce […and incubate] new bioscience enterprise…”
I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to collaborate with earnest, creative, and dedicated SPC and FCG members over these 13 years - many of whom are now chairs, deans, and provosts within the CSU. I take great joy in the CSU alumni
I’ve worked with and keep in touch with, as well. As medical and biotechnology professionals, they are the faces and personalities of this important work.
I’ve been so fortunate to work with remarkable and supportive bosses over the years. President Steve Weber (SDSU) empowered me to build complex, multi-campus, external collaborations. President Rollin Richmond (Humboldt State) worked with me side-by-side to make the CIRM Bridges programs a reality. President Karen Haynes (CSU San Marcos) held my hand and advocated for CSUPERB through the EO 1103 authorization process. President Soraya Coley (Cal Poly Pomona) understands and embraces CSUPERB’s workforce development mission (she will need cookies during this transition).
I’m so happy that Bianca Mothe agreed to step in as interim Executive Director - she has all the experience and skills needed and will do a terrific job. Have patience with her and the program office as they work through the transition - they always do their best. We’ll work together this month as we wrap up the spring grant reviews and hold our Strategic Planning Council and Presidents’ Commission meetings. Special thanks are due to the Student Success Network and its leaders, Andrea Venezia and Terra Thorne, for sharing Dr. Mothe with CSUPERB during this transition.
I think we all know the post-COVID-19 world will be very different. CSUPERB is an important “social safety net” within the CSU. It’s been a reliable funder in good budget years and bad. CSUPERB grants provide a bit of breathing room so that faculty-led teams can develop learning spaces where discoveries can happen and students become practicing scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. The CSUPERB community as a whole is reliable, well-informed, collaborative, and innovative - academic leaders at each and every CSU campus to lean upon in changing times. CSUPERB will continue to play its important role as a smoothing function as the university picks up instruction and research activities later this year.
I always quote Jeff Gustafson (SDSU), who said that the CSU is “the best place in the world for undergraduate research.” I’m counting on you - faculty mentors, research peers, alumni, student affairs professionals, and teaching teams - to keep it that way! We need to make sure CSU graduates are qualified and prepared for life science careers beyond the university; needless to say as we face COVID-19, they will be needed. I’ll be keeping eyes on the CSUPERB dashboard
and the LinkedIn group
to follow CSUPERB’s impact on alumni careers.
My immediate post-retirement travel plans have fallen through, of course, so I’ll be out here for President Coley, Bianca, Paula and Kathie, as well as the intrepid staff in the CSUPERB program office. Looking ahead, I’ll still teach BIO I-Corps, continue to serve on an NIH SBIR review panel, do some adjunct work at SDSU, and stay involved in California’s biotech entrepreneurial ecosystem.
It’s been a privilege and an honor to work with the magnificent CSUPERB community, Cal State students, CSU alumni, the formidable California biotech ecosystem, and the I-Corps National Innovation Network.
I’m excited to see what direction these special communities – and my successors - take CSUPERB in the years ahead!
Warmest regards and stay safe out there -
Susan M. Baxter