Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
Reception Remarks
Wednesday October 3, 2007
Hilton Opera Hotel
Hanoi, Vietnam

Andrew Tran, Le Van Cleve and I thank you for coming to this reception and honoring the California State University.

I have been six days, and the longer I am here, the more I am impressed by the people I meet and the beauty of your countryside as I travel between cities.

From all that I have seen, Vietnam is a vibrant and energetic country. I have enjoyed seeing the bright colors, natural beauty and being on the receiving end of unparalleled graciousness by the people of your country.

I am learning more about your country all the time, and I like that. My favorite kinds of books are biographies, and I hope to read more about people who have made a difference in Vietnam.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, more than one million people speak Vietnamese in the United States, making it the seventh most widely spoken language in the U.S.

That places it ahead of Italian, Korean, Russian, Polish, Arabic and Japanese.

About 250,000 Southern Californians speak Vietnamese – including about 71,000 in Los Angeles County and about 124,000 in Orange County.

That means that many people know about your country and your culture.

As the Chancellor of the California State University, I have visited several of your institutions of higher education already, including the Hanoi University of Technology, National Economics University, and Vietnam Maritime University, and I will see more before we depart.

We have exchanged ideas on education, which is perhaps the key to Vietnam’s future. You all play a very important role in Vietnam’s future.

Thank you for inviting me to speak tonight about some of my impressions of education here, and also about the CSU system and its 23 campuses.

Before I talk about what I have learned, let me give you a few facts about the three levels of higher education in California:

  • The University of California, which has 10 universities, including UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego. The UC system is the best research university system in the United States, and it serves about 209,000 students
  • The California State University, where I am Chancellor, has 23 campuses in the state. We are the teaching institution and are recognized in the U.S. for our commitment to affordable, quality education. We serve about 450,000 students per year; nearly 12,000 are Vietnamese students.
  • The California Community Colleges, which have 109 campuses and serve about 2.5 million students per year.

Altogether, the three levels provide college-level classes to more than 3 million people every year.

That is an incredible number, and it shows why higher education has the economic, social, cultural, and intellectual impact it does on the state of California.

Most of those students who will graduate from our campuses will go into the workforce and continue to positively impact the state in whatever field they enter, whether it is engineering, computer science, teaching, nursing or many other fields.

What higher education provides is both a personal benefit and a societal benefit.

People who graduate from college usually contribute more to the economy, which means that there is a higher standard of living for all residents.

Let me give you just a few statistics about the CSU system:


  • 55 percent of our students are students of color
  • 30 percent are first in their families to go to college
  • For 40 percent, English is their second language
  • 19.3 percent of the 55 percent, or 80,449, are Asian Americans
  • 2.8 percent, or 11,526, are Vietnamese students.

Faculty and Staff:

  • 33 percent are faculty and staff of color
  • 12.8 percent, or 5,853, are Asian Americans
  • About one (1) percent, or 365, are of Vietnamese descent.

Of our 23 campuses, nearly all of them have some kind of Asian American program, and we are very proud of that. And many have Vietnamese programs.

For example, our Los Angeles campus has 23 percent Asian American students, with 512 students identifying themselves as Vietnamese. Next year they will offer “Vietnamese 100A” for the first time.

Another unique California State University campus is our California State University Maritime Academy. This past summer, it called on the Port in Da Nang, and served as a “Goodwill Ambassador” for the United States.

The ship carried a complete dental clinic trailer from the East Meets West Foundation of Oakland, CA.

The trailer and other medical equipment including incubators and infant warmers were delivered to aid in the Foundation’s work to improve health and dental care for disadvantaged children.

Cal Maritime’s student Kiwanis group, the Circle K Club, worked all year to collect money and goods for a Da Nang orphanage.

Sports equipment, clothing and cash also were delivered during the ship’s visit.

The California State University Maritime Academy also just signed a cooperative agreement with the Vietnam Maritime University, another indication of the growing ties between our countries.

Among notable faculty members, former San Francisco State University faculty member Chuong Hoang Chung started the first Vietnamese American Studies Program in the United States, at San Francisco State.

Also, Huong Tran Nguyen, the recipient of the 1994 "Disney National Outstanding Teacher of the Year" and "Disney National Outstanding Foreign Language and English as a Second Language Teacher,” is a Professor of Education at CSU Long Beach.

With the support of your Ministry of Education and Training, the CSU has developed initiatives in cooperation with universities in your country:

  • Our Chico campus is working with Hanoi University of Technology (HUT) in the area of mechatronic engineering.
  • Our Long Beach campus is working with the National Economic University on curriculum development in the area of finance.

And many of our campus presidents have visited your country as a way to discuss beginning or strengthening joint programs. Our International Programs department has relationships with 50 universities in 19 countries. Not in Vietnam yet, but it is certainly worth discussing, so that our students and faculty and your students and faculty can learn from each other, and work and study as colleagues.

From just these few examples, you can see that the CSU is interested in further discussions with your country about higher education.

CSU Poster:

But before we go any further, I want to point out that even though we are a higher education institution, our mission very strongly says that we need to work with California’s public schools. If they get better, then the students they send to the California State University will be better.

So, one thing we have done is to create a poster that tells students and parents how to get to college.

We print them in 5 languages – English, Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean and Chinese. I have brought several with me with English on one side and Vietnamese on the other, so you can see what we are trying to do.

We have given out 1.3 million this year – to schools, youth groups, parent groups and may other places, just to make sure that people know what they need to do to get their children into college, and into a better life.

Let me please return to talking about your country.

Having read the recent remarks of former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael W. Marine, I know that there have been great changes taking place in Vietnam, but that higher education has not benefited as much as it should have.

For example, we know that the California State University impacts the state of California by nearly $14 billion per year. If Vietnam had stronger universities, your country’s economy would be stronger too.

The United States is Vietnam’s top export market and its fourth largest foreign investor.

What we need to also work on becoming is an importer of our good higher education practices.

According to former Ambassador Marine, Vietnam lags well behind other countries in the region with only two percent of its population having received thirteen (13) years or more of education.

Only ten (10) percent of your 20-to-24 year-olds are enrolled in your universities. That is way too low.

Also, more universities and more faculty members to teach the students who want an education would be good for your country.

A stronger economy demands more people with college degrees to be the entrepreneurs and others who enter the workforce and stimulate economic development.

The California State University may be able to help with your higher education programs.

We need to partner more, to cooperate more, and our governments and your government need to work closer together on important issues like this.

We need more student, faculty and cultural exchange programs. We need to assist you by providing short-term training programs so that your faculty and students can benefit from our many years of operating in the United States.

In other words, we need to work together better than what we are doing now.

I hope that I am able to learn from all of you what the California State University can do to better the educational exchange between our two countries. We all want all of our students to have the best education they can obtain. Together, we can make that happen.

Thank you again for your hospitality and for allowing me to speak to you today. You have a beautiful and fascinating country.

I would be pleased to answer any questions that you have.