Diane Harrison
News & Media

Dianne F. Harrison

President, California State University, Northridge

What makes your university great?
Like many institutions our size, the list of qualities that make CSUN great is extensive. Distilling these outstanding characteristics to its essence, CSUN is great because we are an economic and social elevator — for our students and all of Southern California. Serving more students on Pell Grants than any other institution in California, in 2018, the Wall Street Journal ranked CSUN second in the nation for our diverse learning environment. We regularly rank near the top of the social mobility index for our transformative impact on the lives of our students. We accomplish this effect because of the inclusive, student-centered approach CSUN faculty and staff use in creating award-winning academic programs across the university and the extraordinary tenacity of our students.

How do you stay engaged with students on campus?
I find the best way to stay engaged with students is through casual gatherings where students can feel at ease and truly open up about their perceptions of the campus and faculty, their aspirations, and how we can better help them achieve their goals. In particular, I really enjoy hosting lunches with various student groups, such as our athletes, student government leaders, and former foster youth.

What’s your favorite university tradition?
My favorite tradition every year is CSUN Commencement, when I have the honor of shaking the hands of every single graduate – this year, more than 10,000! Our Commencement tradition also includes students placing a rose at the base of our Matador statue to celebrate major accomplishments. At Commencement, the statue is filled with roses!

What is the last movie you saw in the theater?
The last movie I saw in a theater was “If Beale Street Could Talk,” an emotional love story set in 1970s Harlem that speaks powerfully to issues of race and our criminal justice system. At our own campus theater, I really enjoyed “Amal,” an award-winning, short, CSUN student film that focused on the effects on children of the war in Syria.

What was the last thing you cooked or baked?
When I have time to cook, I enjoy preparing traditional Southern and holiday favorites. Over the break, I baked a Brown Sugar Pound Cake and of course, Hoppin’ John for New Year’s.

What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I found Fear by Bob Woodward to be incredibly thought-provoking. While disturbing to read, I think it is important for everyone to understand this perspective on our administration.