Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
CSUN Faculty Senate Symposium
Northridge, CA
April 22, 2011

Thank you so much for inviting me here today. It’s a good opportunity to look at the big picture, and at the issues that we’re facing most immediately in California.

In 1960, California’s Master Plan for Higher Education formed three major segments: the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges. Each segment was given a unique mission.

The CSU has built a collaborative system of campuses while maintaining the unique strengths of the individual campuses.

In some ways, the history of the CSU parallels the history of post-World War II America: The CSU welcomed returning veterans with the G.I. Bill. It expanded in size, scope, and geography with the needs of its students. It helped build the middle class, provided for older, commuting, and working students, and it educated the baby boomer generation. It truly has been the people’s university.

But 50 years ago, higher education looked a lot different than it does now.

  • Everyone who went to college went full-time and lived in a dorm.

  • Those students were mostly white and middle-class.

  • When you went to class, you took notes on paper based on what was written on the chalkboard.

  • You wrote your exams in Blue Books.

These days higher education looks much different. And 50 years from now, it will change even more. For instance, I predict it will take a lot less time to get a bachelor’s degree, and it will be a lot less expensive to get a degree. That’s because the current financial and structural model is not sustainable.

What we do know is that our predecessors who drew up the Master Plan were incredibly forward-thinking. They understood the long-term importance of higher education for a growing economy, no matter what the demographics or the technology looks like.

Today, and looking forward, the central elements of that Master Plan pledge remain true.

If California wants to reclaim its educational and economic prominence, we are going to need to renew and refresh that commitment to higher education.

Today I want to touch on two main topics – 1) the future of higher education in this country; and 2) the future of higher education in California and specifically the CSU.

Part 1: Future of Higher Education

Higher education is more important than ever

  • We live in a rapidly growing information economy;
  • Jobs are tied to technology, global awareness;
  • Students must know how to think, write, analyze, solve problems, use technology, communicate through oral presentations, work in teams, interact with different cultures, speak more than one language;
  • Nearly 8 in 10 job openings in the. U.S. will require a postsecondary degree;
  • A bachelor’s graduate recipient will earn nearly 70 percent more over a lifetime than a high school graduate;
  • Citizens with postsecondary degrees have been found to be healthier, have greater rates of voting and community volunteerism, have better child-rearing practices.

Universities moving away from bricks and mortar

  • More students are looking for evening, weekend, or alternative schedules;
  • More learning and dialogue takes place online;
  • Social media and online networks are the new discussion forums;
  • Work happens in virtual libraries, virtual chemistry, biology, and physics labs;
  • Students no longer need to be in a specific place at a specific time.

Fastest-growing student population is among traditionally under-served

  • The Latino population is expected to triple in size in the next 40 years;
  • By 2050, Latinos will make up nearly 30% of the U.S. population;
  • Currently Latinos make up a majority of California’s public school students;
  • One in four Latino students drops out before finishing high school;
  • Many come from homes where English is not spoken; they would be first in family to attend college;
  • This new population will need more outreach and assistance.

Part II: CSU and the California Budget Situation

One of the higher education values that the CSU is most committed to is providing access to a large and diverse community.

In fact, this value has made us a standout among universities and university systems across the country. And given the changes ahead in higher education, those values – access and excellence – will become even more important.

Many of our programs to reach traditionally under-served students have become national models:

  • How to Get to College poster – we have distributed more than 5 million copies;
  • EAP college readiness test;
  • “Super Sunday” outreach to African-American students through local churches;
  • PIQE program for Latino parents;
  • Graduation initiative.

Because of these and other efforts, we have more national influence today than ever before:

  • We helped write the Higher Education Reauthorization Act;
  • We were the only system invited to testify on reauthorization;
  • We led federal testimony on direct lending;
  • We helped write the College Board report on serving the underserved;
  • We were leaders on a national accountability effort and we broke new ground with our Public Good accountability measurements.

Unfortunately, what dominates our priorities right now is the budget. The budget situation is the worst the CSU has ever faced. It is shaping up to be a catastrophe.

Bottom line: The CSU is facing a budget gap of about $550 million – which is bad enough itself – but it could become a gap of $1 billion if the state cannot generate more revenues to fund critical programs like higher education.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • The CSU right now is facing $500 million in budget cuts.
  • The total budget gap CSU needs to address is $550 million when mandatory costs including energy and employee health premiums are factored in.
  • Across the system, campuses will be asked to reduce their budgets by a total of $281 million, and the Chancellor's office will be cut by $11 million.
  • The CSU will enroll 10,000 fewer students, and will apply an estimated $142 million from tuition increases already approved for fall 2011 to the budget reduction.

But as of last month the governor’s plan to put tax extensions on a June ballot did not pan out.

Unless he can get the votes and get more revenue, the budget cuts to the CSU could approach $1 billion.

A reduction of that size would force the CSU to take potentially drastic measures including reduced course sections, much larger enrollment cuts, tuition hikes, workforce reductions and other measures.

It would drop state support for the CSU to below 1996-97 levels – even though the CSU now serves approximately 100,000 more students now.

We are currently working in Sacramento and around the state to make sure that our voices are heard, and that people understand the critical importance of higher education to our citizens and to our economy – for now and for the next 50 years.

The state’s public universities are one of the only institutions that can actually help grow the state's economy.

California will not recover without an educated workforce, and each year the CSU graduates approximately 95,000 students who bring their talents and fresh ideas into the workforce.

Dramatic cuts in higher education will cause the state to fall further behind in delivering the one million more graduates we need to compete economically with other states and countries.

We have joined the UC and the community colleges in calling for a new long-term plan in California to stabilize funding to institutions of higher education.

At the moment, one of the biggest challenges we face is a disgruntled minority that chooses to say bad things about the CSU.

They don’t understand that unless we present a unified front, we are likely going to suffer even more cuts.

In the meantime, we will persevere. We will all keep doing what we do every day – bringing high-quality education to our students.

And as we get through these tough times, we will remember the long-term vision of the master plan, and I’ll be calling to mind some of my favorite words of wisdom from Winston Churchill:

  • To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often.

  • Success is never found. Failure is never fatal. Courage is the only thing.

  • There is no substitute for hard work.

  • If you’re going through hell – keep going.

  • Never let criticism get you down.

And last:

  • Never, never, never, never give up.

Thank you for all that you do for our students, and thank you again for asking me to join you today

I will be glad to answer any questions you may have.