Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
San JosŤ State University
150th Anniversary Presidential Panel
Friday, May 4, 2007

Thank you, President Kassing.

This is a wonderful day for San JosŤ State and all of the California State University system as we celebrate your founding 150 years ago.

As the oldest public university in the state, you have much to be proud of, and we share in your pride for what you have done for the faculty, staff and students and your community.

It is my pleasure to be here with U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. I have worked with her and testified at hearings as part of her "Commission on the Future of Higher Education."

Sometimes, we in higher education complain that no one pays attention to us, that all the attention is focused on the K-12 system. Secretary Spellings has changed that with the Commission report.

And while we may not agree with all of the findings, the Commission report did compliment the California State University for its important work of improving student preparation for college.

That is what I would like to talk about for a few minutes.

The California State University is the largest and most diverse four-year university system in the country. We are doing pretty well in most academic areas including improving student preparation, but it is not nearly good enough.

We must concentrate better on how to prepare the workforce of the future.

What I see is the greatest challenge to higher education in the next 150 years of San JosŤ State and our other 22 campuses is that we must reach students from traditionally underserved populations, get them eligible and into college and then get them graduated into the workforce.

They already are in the majority in California, and are on the brink of becoming a majority population in this country.

If we don't serve those students - many are the first in their families to attend college - our universities will become obsolete, our workforce will suffer, and our businesses and economy will pay the price.

What this means in simple terms is that our communities and our standard of living will decline.

It no longer will be "their" problem that they are not educated and contributing to the intellectual community and economic base - it will be a problem we ignored at our own peril.

So what we have been doing at the CSU is partnering with our K-12 colleagues to better prepare high school students for college-level work.

What the Secretary's Commission applauded us for is our Early Assessment Program (EAP). We have augmented the state's California Standards Test with math and English questions that assess a student's college readiness in those critical subjects.

We call it an "early signal." If they pass, they know they are eligible for a CSU campus.

If they do not pass, they can spend their senior year in high school - often a wasted year anyway - eliminating their academic gaps so that when they get to college, they are ready for college.

We've established special math and English web sites to help students and teachers in these subjects.

The Secretary's Commission called our program, and I quote, "ideal because the CSU's standards are embedded in the high school curricula and students have opportunities in their senior year to improve their level of preparation."

This is a step in the right direction - we now need to make the test mandatory so all students get this "early signal."

Plus we need to go out to these underserved communities rather than wait for them to come to us. We must change our way of doing business.

Just as the Internet and cell phones and text messaging have vastly changed the way we communicate with students, we must change the way we reach their families too.

If we as higher education administrators do not take up this challenge and better educate the future diverse workforce, then the next 150 years of San JosŤ State will not be as good as the first 150 years.

With leaders like President Kassing and Secretary Spellings and everyone in this room, I know we can meet the challenge.

I see a bright future ahead for this university, its community and our state. I am proud to be a part of this university's past and future.

Thank you.

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