Sac State’s Roadside Attraction

Sac State’s new digital billboard overlooking Highway 50 is scheduled to go live today with a barrage of advertising to simultaneously distract and educate drivers, raise much needed funding and refresh the public debate about the new University branding, logo and tagline that “Leadership Begins Here”.

If you have not seen the sign, it looms 55 feet above the freeway and has a 48 by 14 foot digital face. This sucker is big. It makes me wonder if CSUS hired the same folks who design advertising for casinos. Not the ubertrendy manscaping and fake boob casinos, the ones on rural highways filled with old people. The good news is that it features new LED technology that allows the contrast to brighten or dim depending on changes in lighting conditions. Hopefully it will be less obnoxiously intrusive than the one bordering Cal Expo, which tends to lull and hypnotize me with giant images of Monica Woods and Dale Schornack.

As many as 8 ads will rotate every 64 seconds. It will also provide public information such as traffic updates, road conditions and amber alerts. Clear Channel owns and operates the sign, and has entered into a 25 year lease with University Enterprises with an initial $750,000 payment. President Gonzales has put aside almost half of that amount in an account dedicated to funding research and travel to academic conferences.

(Note: Clear Channel says that it will go live today as it did not go live yesterday.)

2007 Festival of New American Music

Sac State hosts the 30th year of this annual event that brings free music and avant-garde composers to Sacramento with, unfortunately, very little fanfare. With such a dizzying array of musical styles, from orchestral and choral pieces to solo artists and small combos, I am surprised that I have not heard more promotions for this event.

For a calendar of performances, click here. My recommendation is to check out guitarist/composer/professor Derek Keller, who performs Wednesday at Noon. Keller’s most recent work has been a 2007 tour with Kronos Quartet, and he is currently an instructor at American River College and is the curator of the Music Series at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

CSU Strike Update

Just a quick note to let you all know that the labor dispute at the California State Universities has been all but settled with negociations to be finalized over the next few weeks.

The deal gives all CSU faculty guaranteed base salary increases of 20.7% over four years (retroactive to July 2006) and step salary increases of up to 2.65% each year. In addition, it assigns $28 million to fund two new merit-based programs that will provide raises for senior and junior faculty. As part of the deal, faculty would receive an extra 1% raise for each of the last three years of the contract, contingent on additional state budget funds for the university system.

A labor dispute is still brewing, however, over at the University of California over equitable pay for janitors and other maintenance staff.

Sac State and other CSU faculties authorize strike

The Sacramento Bee reports today that the California State University faculty has voted to strike. Statewide, 82% of the more than 11,000 members of the California Faculty Association voted, with 94% of them authorizing the strike. Tensions have centered upon the lack of a contract and extreme disparity in the salaries of various faculty members. A possible strike will take the form of a rolling walkout, with individual campuses striking for two days at a time.

Here at home, the faculty of Sac State met as a body for the first time in 30 years. Among the budget discussions, a vote of no confidence in University President Alex Gonzalez was proposed. As next week is Spring Break, the vote will not occur until the next Faculty Senate meeting on April 5.

L.A. Times takes another shot

Last week, two swipes at Sacramento from the teetering L.A. Times. Today, another. In Bill Dwyre’s column about Florida’s routing of THE Ohio State University last night for the ridiculous no-playoff championship, he manages to mock our admittedly pathetic local Hornets in defending Boise State’s claim on No. 1:

[…] There ought to be a Sacramento State Rule in college football, as in, no team that plays Sacramento State can end up No. 1.

Hmmm. Maybe that rule makes some sense. Boise State didn’t even have to break a sweat, kicking Hornet tail 45-0 in the season opener for both teams. The Hornets lost six more, but I don’t think you can quite call them the closest thing to a gimme in Division I football. After all, they did beat perennial power houses Eastern Washington, Weber State, Northern Colorado and Idaho State. So there.

Tuck away the snark for an afternoon

Sacramentans have the rare opportunity tomorrow to learn firsthand about one of the most horrific experiences in world history.  Polish-born Holocaust survivor David Faber will be speaking at Sac State on Wednesday from 1pm-2:30pm in the University Union Ballroom III.  He is here all week telling his story to businesses and students, urging tolerance.

The 80-year-old spent six years in nine concentration camps and witnessed the murders of his parents, brother, and five of his six sisters.  He accepts no speaker fee, and the proceeds from his book sales benefit funds that help disabled U.S. veterans.