Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
Super Sunday Southern California
West Angeles Cathedral
Los Angeles CA
February 24, 2008

Thank you, Bishop Blake. And thank you all for joining us for this special presentation. It is great to be back here at West Angeles for another Super Sunday. My colleagues and I are at 22 churches throughout the LA basin today, so we are in good company.

I especially want to thank all the elected officials here today. You have the daunting task of approving the budgets and making the laws that will keep our students competitive in todayís economy.

I am here this morning because I know we all believe in the power of education. We want to see our children, our grandchildren, and our friends and neighborsí children pursue an education and go on to succeed in the workforce.

But we also have larger reasons to want our children to get a good education. We want to make our communities stronger. We want to watch our neighborhoods thrive. We want our economy to flourish.

And studies show that college graduates tend to be healthier, participate in their communities, and give back in greater numbers.

I truly believe that education is the cornerstone of a healthy society. Thatís why I want to make sure that we are getting all of our future students on track as soon as possible.

CSU Role

Iím proud of the role that the California State University plays in educating African-American students. This year the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Ethnic Studies Program are celebrating their 40th anniversary. These two programs opened the doors of college for tens of thousands in our African-American communities.

It all started at CSU, and that is why we are the most diverse university system in the country, with nearly 56 percent students of color. On our 23 campuses, we enroll more than 26,000 African-American students. In fall 2007, the enrollment of African-American first-time freshmen grew by 6.5 percent.

We attribute this growth to the partnerships with 52 churches in this state. We are reaching more parents and more students with our church visits and follow-up throughout the year.

I know we have a few Cal State students and Cal State alums here in the audience. Would you please stand so we can recognize you?

Thank you all for being such an inspiration. You are all role models for our future students. If youíre an alum and youíre not already involved, I encourage you to fill out an alumni involvement card in the foyer.

Iím proud of what the CSU has done, but I know we need to do even more. We want to make certain that more African-American students are eligible. And given that we enroll almost two African-American women for every African-American man, we want to do more to reach out to and engage our young men.

We also need do to more than just open our doors. We have to keep our universities accessible and affordable, and we have to help students understand that they can afford college.

Both the state of California and the CSU offer a great deal of financial assistance in the form of scholarships and grants. Whatís more, you donít have to be a star athlete to get a scholarship.

The CSU keeps its fees low enough that CSU students finish college with much less debt than students at other state universities and private institutions.

Last but not least, we need to make sure that our students have all the tools they need to complete their degrees. Graduation is what itís all about.

Steps to College

Our challenge is getting all of this information to the right people. So Ė parents and students Ė here's what you can do:

One ó Read our "How to Get to College" poster. This poster spells out all of the steps that a student needs to prepare for college, beginning in middle school. We will have this poster available afterwards for anyone who is interested.

Two ó Plan to take the full college prep curriculum, known as the A-G requirements. Even if you are not planning on going to college, this curriculum will give you a solid grounding in the basics and prepare you for the workforce.

Three ó Get on a computer and log in to the Cal State web site: www.calstate.edu. That web site will point you to CSU Mentor, which will help you get all the information you need to plan for and apply to college.

Four ó Learn all you can about financial aid, where you need to apply and when. For instance, there is a priority deadline coming up for the federal financial aid application on March 3. CSU Mentor can tell you all about how to meet that deadline.

Five ó Take the Early Assessment Test in the 11th grade. This is a voluntary test that is an extension of the California Standards Test that students already have to take. Itíll take 30 minutes extra.

Those 30 minutes will let you know if you need to do more work in your senior year to get up to speed on English or math.

Making a Difference

But even if you donít have a school-aged student, there is still plenty for you to do.

For instance, we need more mentors for young people.

When we ask successful people what made a difference in their lives, the common response was that they all had some kind of mentor, whether it is a coach, or a counselor, or a pastor, or a family friend.

We also need more K-12 teachers and faculty members who look like the students they are teaching.

I ask each of you to ask yourselves if you can be a mentor or a role model in a student's life. I believe that if we are going to bring higher education to the next generation of students, we all need to be involved.

Last but not least, we need people to get out there and support higher education. Some of you may have heard that the CSU is looking at a $312.9 million cut in this yearís budget. We canít keep serving more students if we donít have the funding.

At this rate the state of California is on the road to building world-class prisons and second class schools.

We need to get people to realize that the CSU is an investment that pays long-term dividends in terms of personal achievement, workforce development, and economic growth for the state of California.

Two-thirds of the students who are in the K-12 pipeline right now are students from traditionally under-served communities. It is critical to the stateís future that more students from these groups get to college.

Thatís why I ask you to talk to your friends, your neighbors, and your legislators. Ask them to let the governor know that it is critical to preserve the CSUís budget and invest in higher education.

If we can meet this challenge, we will realize a dream that we all share.

That dream is for a new generation to succeed in college and help transform our communities into vibrant, prosperous, thriving places to live.

Our children deserve no less.

Thank you, Bishop Blake, and thank you to all of you for having me here Ė for what I hope is just one of many "Super Sundays."