Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
CHESS Conference
"Students Can Make the Difference"
California State University, Sacramento
Friday, April 18, 2008

Thank you, Art (Pimentel).

One of the rewarding parts of my job as Chancellor is to recognize students for all the great work they have done and continue to do for the California State University.

Art is one of those students, and he has taken what he has learned here at Sacramento State, and as the former chair of CSSA, and gone on to public service as a City Council member in Woodland.

I am sure that President Gonzalez is proud of how you represent your alma mater, Art.

Several other students will be here either tonight or throughout the conference who I have worked closely with over the last 10 years:

  1. Past CSSA Chairs Robert Garcia and Shaun Lumachi are serving the public as community leaders in their advocacy efforts on behalf of chambers of commerce and educational institutions. Plus, they are celebrating the first year anniversary of their online newspaper, the Long Beach Post – it’s a must-read in Long Beach.
  2. CSU Trustee and Chico alum and Chico CSSA board member Bob Linscheid will also attend.
  3. Other past CSSA Chairs are:
    Stephanie Rahlfs, Jose L. Solache and Jennifer Reimer.
  4. Other CSSA Board Member Alumni include:
    • Yuri Beckelman (Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Office)
    • Laura A. Kerr (General Manager, CA Charter Schools Association)
    • Mona Mohammadi (Deputy to the Senior Advisor, Governor Schwarzenegger's Office)
    • Jason Spencer (Consultant Vasconcello's Legacy Project)
    • Christy Zamani (Executive Director, Day One Pasadena)

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that California State University students don’t make a difference, because they do, and these young men and women are great examples.

They are just a few of the more than 772,000 engaged students who have graduated from a CSU campus since I became Chancellor 10 years ago.

772,000 – that is a lot of smart people entering California’s workforce. The CSU is a major powerhouse in this state because of all of you.

Let me get to the main point of tonight’s talk – what else students can do to make a difference.

As you all know, California’s budget is in serious trouble.

The CSU is facing a 10 percent cut of $312 million from our 2008-09 budget.

That is on top of the $522 million in cuts we took between 2002 and 2005.

Plus, as all of you know very well, the budget does not include the $73 million to buy out a student fee increase.

Adding the $312 million and the $73 million, the CSU is looking at a combined loss of $386.1 million for the coming year.

That is not the way to invest in the future.

I have said many times that with these kinds of cuts, California is on the road to second-class universities and world-class prisons, if you look at the money spent on prisons at the expense of higher education.

We cannot let that happen to all the thousands of students out there in high school who want a college education at a CSU campus.

And many of those students – like many of you – are students of color.

We have spent a lot of time reaching out to students of color and it will be a travesty if those efforts go to waste.

What we all need to do is continue to speak out against these cuts to all who will listen, but especially to policymakers here in Sacramento and in their district offices.

For the first time in my 10 years, everyone at the campuses is on the same page about the cuts – we are all speaking with the same voice, and we need to continue to do so.

All of our labor unions, including the faculty, staff, trades, and all our trustees and presidents have joined as the "CSU Family" to speak out at campus budget forums and other places.

If these cuts go into effect, we will have 10,000 fewer students, and less in the way of student services such as counseling. Our labs and libraries will also be impacted.

It is you, the students, who will be most impacted. Your fees will be higher and your services lower. I know you don’t want to hear that, but it is reality.

So, what do we do? We keep hammering the same message – the CSU is the right investment for the state to make. Without an investment in you, the students, this state’s outlook is anything but clear.

You are the workforce of the future – you are the ones who industry will look to fill their jobs, be the entrepreneurs, and be the future economic drivers of this state.

It not only the CSU that is at risk – it is the University of California and the Community Colleges. All stand to lose millions this coming year.

So the workforce needs are even further at risk without the graduates and research capabilities of UC, and the graduates and technical skills of the community colleges.

If these cuts stick, and if it happens again next year, California’s competitive edge will erode, its economy will flounder and personal incomes will decline.

That is not the California that its residents want. They want a California that lives up to its name as the Golden State.

I am pleased that you all will be joining with your UC and community colleges on Monday for a rally at the Capitol to protest the pending cuts. Some 1,500 students from all segments are expected for the “March for Higher Education.”

I know you will speak with one voice about:

  1. Access
  2. Workforce, and
  3. Opportunity for the underserved student.

Yes, you can make a difference if you stand together. Yes, you can.

And I know that because today is April 18th. What does that date mean, you ask?

On April 18, 1775, American revolutionaries Paul Revere, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott rode through the towns of Massachusetts giving the warning that “the British are coming.”

Let me give the warning to our Sacramento legislators, “the students are coming, the students are coming.”

We all know how that war turned out – let’s hope that is a good example for this war on higher education’s funding.

CSSA dues:

Before I take questions, let me give you one thought on getting stronger. I know that not all the campuses have joined CSSA. That is wrong and that will weaken you.

If you were a choir and several singers were missing, your voice would not be heard in the back of the auditorium. You need that strong voice if you are to make the strongest case for all CSU students with elected officials, and frankly with your own campuses.

Whatever the differences are, you need to get all the Associated Students’ organizations back into the fold so your voice is stronger.

If some campuses are not paying their dues, then they need to step out of the choir until they pay. They should not be represented here or elsewhere if they are not full players- - it is not fair to all of the campuses that have paid and played by the rules.

In Summary:

I celebrated my official 10th year at the CSU this past month. I am very proud of all that we have done together. It has always been my policy to think about students first – you are the lifeblood of this system and the reason why we are here.

So thank you for all that you have done for the California State University.

Depending on what happens with the budget, I know that you might have to pay a little more for your education if the fees are increased.

But remember how it will all be worth it when you realize what you will be doing for your communities, and for your own pocketbook since your degree will mean at least a million dollars more over a lifetime.

So hang in there, have a successful conference and rally, and always remember that you are part of the CSU Family, which is second only to your own families.

Thank you and I’d be happy to answer a few questions.