Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
League of California Cities Conference
University Community Issue Group
Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach, CA
September 26, 2008

Thank you, Ron (Loveridge, Mayor of Riverside).

Universities and cities have a lot in common – we both want the money due us from the state … But if you look at the state budget that was just signed, you don’t see much coming to either of us…

Let me start by saying that the California State University Chancellor’s Office and our Cal State Long Beach campus get along well with the City of Long Beach and its Mayor, Bob Foster, who is here today.

Bob is an alumnus of our San José campus and served nine years as a member of the CSU Board of Trustees, where he was chair of our collective bargaining committee.

That was a tough job of rough-and-tumble politics – it prepared him to live the easier life of a mayor …

Seriously, I know your jobs as mayors and city managers are difficult, especially in these tough budget times.

I can look at it from both sides – (1) as a university system head, and (2) in one of my previous jobs as chief of staff to the governor of Florida.

There’s politics in both jobs, and we fight for more funds for our students, while you fight for your residents.

I want to talk about the relationships we currently have and hear from you about the opportunity for more partnerships.

But before I do that, let me just give you a few facts about the California State University that you might not know:

  • CSU is the largest university in the country: 23 campuses, 450,000 students, 46,000 employees and more than 2 million alumni
  • Student body is 56 percent students of color – twice the national average
  • A $13.9 billion dollar impact on the state – we return $4.41 dollars for every dollar invested in the CSU
  • We work with K-12 schools across the state to align our standards so that students know exactly what they need to study to get to college. We have distributed 2.5 million posters to young people and their parents to help them figure out the best path to college. (Show poster.)
  • This week and next we have a bus traveling the state to schools and college fairs to help middle and high school students learn about college.
  • We put 92,000 graduates into the workforce every year. We are the economic backbone of this state. We prepare more students than any other university in California in the fields that power California: agriculture, information technology, communications, business, tourism, life sciences, education, nursing, engineering, hotel/restaurant management, motion picture and television.

So that is who the CSU is. Let me now talk about the relationships we have with our cities.

Good relationships

Our university system has had pretty good relationships with the cities where our 23 campuses are located up and down this state.

And unless you count at our Humboldt campus, we haven’t yet had to deal with too many tree sitters, like the University of California campuses in Berkeley and Santa Cruz…

Of course there have been some bumps in the road – maybe one or two of our students occasionally get out of line – but for the most part, I believe that we have forged some strong partnerships with cities where our campuses are located.

Let me give you a couple of examples of partnerships. Then let’s talk about the opportunity to create more of them:

  1. San José State and the city of San José just celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. Library. This joint project serves city residents and university students and employees equally well. More than 2.5 million visitors per year visit the library and more than 11 million books have been checked out – that is real success.
  2. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Navy closed the base and shipyard in Long Beach. Much of that property reverted to the city but the Cal State Long Beach campus has 30 acres which it has developed into the CSULB Technology Park.
  3. Sacramento city officials held a forum at CSU Sacramento this week to discuss how the city’s general plan revisions may affect the campus and the community through 2030. The plan includes creating a campus-centered community in the redevelopment area. Recently, the city and university signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) to help improve the quality of life in the city and surrounding region.
  4. The city of San Bernardino created a “university zone” around the Cal State San Bernardino campus as part of its general plan so that the campus and city can develop the property in the best interests of both parties.
  5. We just opened phase I of new dorms at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, adding 1,500 beds. When Phase II is completed in 2009, we will have added 2,600 beds. By next year 6,200 students will live on campus, meaning less traffic in the community, more housing for residents and quieter neighborhood without the student partying. And 10 years ago, the city and campus jointly worked together to create the Performing Arts Center on campus.

We also work with counties. Our Channel Islands campus just acquired 369 acres from the County of Ventura. The campus will preserve portions of the site as open space and wildlife habitat, while providing community access and programs for students and faculty in biology, geography and environmental studies.

I believe that these kinds of opportunities came about because at the core of what we both do is try to serve our constituents better – we at the university serve students, and you serve your residents.

Students First

Since I because Chancellor more than 10 years ago, I have a four-word rule when I need to get focused on an issue. That rule is: The student comes first. The university is not about serving “The Institution.” We’re here for students – we need to serve students.

When I deal with an issue with a city or anyone and the discussions get bogged down, I ask myself these questions:

Why are we really here? Who do we serve? How do we get from point “A” to point “B” in a way that is best for our students and for student learning?

I would guess that you do the same thing when you think about issues that affect your communities – you try to figure out what is best for your residents.

Sometimes what is best for students and for residents is the same thing, like the examples I cited above.

Sometimes it takes more time until we can reach agreement, but we must, especially in these fiscally challenged times. I don’t think either of us wants to go to court and spend money on our attorneys. It is best to work things out, if we can.

CEQA and Marina decision

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but I know there will probably be a question, so let me talk a little about the 2006 California Supreme Court Marina decision.

As you know, it dealt with Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), the requirement for off-site mitigation of capital projects and what infrastructure improvements are to be borne by the universities and local governments.

We have modified our procedures consistent with the court ruling and established some “fair share” guidelines.

The experience has been mixed and some issues are unclear. Our approach is that we are in this together so let’s work it out together. It serves no one to have these lawsuits.

We have had some good experiences. For example, we worked well with the city of Long Beach over lights and street improvements on a major entry into the campus.

We also finalized a good agreement with the city and county of San Francisco for fair share mitigation related to transit improvements based on future campus trip generation and a ridership analysis.

This is a complicated decision. It will be with us for a long time, especially as we both work with diminished budgets. But as long as we continue to have honest discussions and negotiate in good faith, I believe we can work most issues out.

I have told you about some of our successful partnerships. There are certainly more out there.

So, how we can work together better, how we can advocate for our students and our residents better with Sacramento?

A question for you: Where could you use our help?

We could really use your help on influencing the Legislature and businesses to support our universities.

Let me end with a few thoughts from an article I read two Sundays ago by your closing speaker, author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

My favorite kinds of books are biographies and she has written some good ones.

In the article in Sunday’s Parade magazine, “The Secrets of America’s Great Presidents,” she listed ten traits of good presidents, using examples from Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

Many of those attributes apply to how universities and cities work together, such as (1) having a willingness to change; (2) an ability to learn from errors; (3) the courage to stay strong; (4) having a moral compass and (5) a gift for inspiring others.

If we think about those when we work together we will do well for our students and our residents.

Thank you. I would be happy to take a few questions.