Chancellor's Recent Speeches
Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Thank you, Jim Phillips, Governor Hunt, and others for the opportunity to speak.
I’ve known and worked with Governor Hunt since 1978, and I know that he is unique in his passion, commitment, and dedication to improve his state and the rest of the country.
He is correct when he talks about the challenge that California, North Carolina, and all of higher education in this country is going to face in the next 15 to 25 years.
Our challenge will be to reach students from traditionally underserved populations who are on the brink of becoming a majority population in this country. Many of these students are our most economically needy students.
If we don’t go out of our way to serve those students – many of who are the first in their families to attend college – we will miss the opportunity to serve a growing portion of our states and of the U.S. population.
If we don’t face this challenge directly, our universities will become obsolete, our workforce will suffer, and our businesses and economy will pay the price. This means that our communities will decline, and our standard of living will decline.
One thing that’s for certain is that our universities can no longer take a passive approach to outreach or admissions. We can’t wait for students to come to us. We need to get out of our comfort zones and go directly into the community to reach students.
We have to go out and find people who might not speak English as a first language, whose parents or grandparents may never have been to a college campus, and whose school district maybe hasn’t paid attention to their needs.
The California State University
The California State University is a good testing ground for this challenge. We are the largest and most diverse university system in the country, with approximately 435,000 students on 23 campuses.
Currently our total minority student enrollment is more than 54 percent. Compared to many universities around the country, we do a pretty good job of attracting and enrolling students from traditionally under-represented groups.
However, according to California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, the CSU was established to accept the top third of California’s high school graduates.
During the past 20 years, the eligibility rate for African-American and Latino students has been only about half the California Master Plan standard.
For example, in 2003, Latinos made up 34 percent of all California high school graduates, but only 16 percent were eligible for admission to the CSU. This means that the remaining students did not take the required courses for college preparation.
African-American students make up a much smaller segment of the student population in California than they do in North Carolina, about 7 percent. But we have a similar problem with African-American students – particularly males – becoming eligible for the CSU.
We know that we have to reach these students early to expand the pool of eligible students and increase their graduation rates. That’s why we have created a number of collaborative projects with our K-12 and community college counterparts:
Beyond The University
Aside from what we are doing at the California State University, there’s far more that we all need to do in California and North Carolina, and everywhere in between:
Some of our early results show that we are making good progress on outreach at the CSU. At the end of our priority open enrollment period on December 1, the applications we received from Latino students were up by 15 percent, and applications from Native American and African American students were up by 12 percent each.
That said, we still know that we have more work to do, and the issues before us are extremely complicated.
One issue I know is of particular concern in North Carolina and California is allowing undocumented students the opportunity to reach higher education without paying out-of-state tuition.
In California, these students may not have been born in the U.S., but many of them came here when they were as young as 4 or 5, and they can’t apply for citizenship until they are 18. These children have attended California public schools for 12 years, and some have done very well. But when they used to apply to the California State University, they were told they had to pay out-of-state fees
California went ahead and changed that law. Today at the CSU, we say – If you have completed four successful years of high school that you can show on a transcript, and you meet our entrance standards, then you do not have to pay out-of-state tuition.
I believe this is a fair and compassionate way to address this issue for our students.
I want to close with one thought about what can happen if we don’t find new and better ways to reach out to underserved populations.
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education estimates that the personal income of Americans will drop in the next 15 years unless states do a better job of raising the educational level of all racial and ethnic groups.
This tells me just how imperative it is that we reach our underserved populations.
It’s going to be a challenge for educators, but it’s a responsibility that everyone – community leaders, businesses, churches, elected officials – will all have to share.
Our communities and our economy are depending on us, and I hope we can measure up to that challenge.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak here this morning.