Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Sacramento Convocation - 11/3/98

Good afternoon. Thank you to all of you for inviting me to speak here today.

A special thanks to you, Don, for raising the profile of CSU Sacramento within California, around the country, and around the world. I especially appreciate all that you have done to make sure that this campus offers a top-quality education for its students. This campus is a valuable resource for the state of California. And the CSU system is a better place for your leadership, insight, and wise counsel.

I would like to focus my remarks today on achieving excellence at the California State University. First of all, excellence isn't something you get and then you keep forever. It's about always moving to that next level of performance. You have to pursue it constantly. Or to put it another way, in the words of Aristotle, "Quality is not an act. It is a habit."

As we enter the 21st century, we are going to face many challenges that are going to keep us on our toes in our pursuit of excellence.

Rapid technological changes, ballooning enrollment, the declining state of our physical facilities - all of these will challenge us and perhaps change the way we perform in the coming century.

But I want to make sure that we don't fall into a certain trap on the road to excellence, which is a little rest stop called "good enough." Good enough is easy - it's the very least anyone would expect of you. But who wants to be "good enough" when we could be excellent or the best?

I am reminded of the great astronaut Neil Armstrong, who was asked if he was nervous on his trip into space. "Who wouldn't be?" he said. "I was sitting there on top of 9,000 bits and pieces, each of which had been made by the lowest bidder!"

So that's the problem with "good enough." It doesn't inspire confidence.

In the coming century, more demands will be placed on state resources, and more emphasis will be placed on performance measurements and outcomes.

And so our legislators and policymakers need to be confident that the CSU provides excellence for California's students.

We can begin our pursuit of excellence by remembering the CSU mission. That mission is to provide an accessible, affordable, high-quality education that prepares California's students for the workforce of the 21st century.

Fortunately, we have a good road map for fulfilling this mission in our Cornerstones report.

As you know, Cornerstones spells out four fundamental commitments: That the CSU will ensure educational results, access to higher education, financial stability, and university accountability.

We are currently working with all of the CSU campuses to get consensus on an implementation plan for Cornerstones. We have continuing to develop a draft implementation plan. And by January, at our Board of Trustees meeting, we will offer that draft plan and a timeline.

In the meantime, we are continuing to work on priorities that are in line with our mission and the Cornerstones recommendations. Those priorities I will discuss today include financial stability, teacher education, a new technology plan, and faculty compensation.

I want to mention financial stability first because it is very timely. As you know, Californians all around the state are voting today on the school construction bond known as Proposition 1A.

That bond will provide $832 million dollars over four years for the CSU. For CSU Sacramento, the bond includes:

  • $21.7 million for the Academic Information Resource Center.

  • $15.2 million for a classroom building for human environmental sciences, foreign languages, and social work.

  • $13.5 million for telecommunications infrastructure.

This bond will be critically important to our students and the future of California. So please keep this in mind as you vote today.

The second piece relating to financial stability is the 1999/2000 budget request that our Board of Trustees approved last Thursday. This $2.4 billion proposal includes:

  • An 11.6 percent general fund increase.

  • A 6 percent faculty salary increase.

  • Funds for a 3 percent enrollment growth.

  • $25 million dollars for technology infrastructure.

  • $45 million dollars for deferred maintenance, instructional equipment replacement, and libraries.

  • A proposal for a continued financial compact with the state for funding stability. In return, the CSU will continue to increase productivity, ensure access, and provide excellence in education.

We are going to be working hard in Sacramento to win approval for this budget. I am confident that it will put us on the right track for financial stability as we enter the new century. And the more financial stability we have, the better we are able to offer an accessible, affordable, high-quality education to our students.

For our next priority area, teacher education, we have pinpointed two specific needs:

  • One: The need for more teachers. California will need more than 250,000 new teachers in the next decade, a number that far exceeds our current teacher training capacity.

  • Two: The need for excellent teachers. A recent report from the Education Trust in Washington D.C. shows that good teachers really do make a difference. In fact, the studies show that the most significant factor in student achievement is the teacher.

So while we need more teachers for our classrooms, we have to remember that every teacher should be an excellent one.

In order to reach these goals, we have developed several strategies for a university-wide effort to improve teacher education. Those strategies include:

  • Offering evening, weekend, summer, and technology-based classes.

  • Working with the British Open University to develop distance learning opportunities for teachers holding emergency permits.

  • Providing more and earlier classroom experience.

  • Streamlining the teacher preparation curriculum to four-and-one-half or even four years.

  • Offering better support to new and current teachers.

  • Developing better communication and more collaboration with our K-12 and community college partners.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate all of you for the way you have embraced this effort to improve teacher education. In particular, I want to thank the College of Education faculty for their work in launching the year-round program.

I sincerely appreciate all of the hard work you are doing. It is critical to California's schools and students.

I also want to congratulate this campus for its strategic partnership with the Elk Grove Unified School District. This partnership represents a true cooperative effort - the kind of partnership that is a model for all universities that want to succeed in the 21st century. I understand that this program has helped increase admissions to CSU Sacramento from Elk Grove. I encourage you to keep up this and other valuable collaborative projects.

My next priority also reflects the new demands we will face in the 21st century - technology. Technological proficiency will be a critical part of students' success in the future workforce. As you know, this system's technological needs will continue to grow each year. So we are working on a multi-faceted plan to address these needs in the long term that will replace the CETI plan.

This new technology plan will call for the cost burden to be shared among the legislature, the CSU, and - down the road - our students.

It will involve $170 million dollars in capital funds from Proposition 1A, assuming that it passes. In addition, we are asking the legislature for $25 million dollars to upgrade our technology infrastructure.

Students will also eventually share in the expense. But we are sure they will see the benefit - that the small fee we will charge will be less expensive than paying their America Online bill. Plus, we will provide universal dial-up access, a 24-hour help desk, more labs, and modern campus wiring.

I can't say enough about how important technology will be to the future of CSU and our students' success in the workforce. I believe this plan recognizes that importance and goes a long way toward addressing the CSU's mission.

Finally, I want to address the topic of faculty compensation, which I know has been on everyone's minds lately. First of all, I believe our faculty members are the linchpin of our universities. They are the experts. And their excellence in teaching and scholarship is what makes the CSU as good a system as it is.

I believe that in order to attract and retain the best possible faculty for the CSU, we need to offer fair and competitive compensation packages. That's why I made a pledge to close the 11 percent salary gap over the next three years. With the 5 percent increase on the table this year, and the 6 percent proposed increase for 1999/2000, we will come close to doing that.

As for performance pay, I believe that good work should be recognized and rewarded. I also know that many of you have had concerns about this issue. That's why we responded and adapted to those concerns. As you know, our proposal is to put 40 percent of the pay increase into performance pay. By directing more money into that area, more deserving faculty will be rewarded. In fact, we hope to recognize at least two to three times more faculty members for high performance.

I believe that this approach is a fair one that will help us keep striving for excellence.

As a point of information, every one of the institutions with which we compare ourselves on salaries has a merit pay program very much like the one we are proposing. More than half of these institutions require that every dollar of new pay raises be determined solely by merit. And almost every one in the group requires that more than 40 percent of faculty compensation goes to merit pay.

I think that if we compare ourselves to this group in terms of salaries, we should also compare ourselves in terms of merit pay.

As other universities around the country have shown, this kind of system is key to the high levels of performance that we seek from all our employees.

While I'm on the topic of faculty compensation, I also want to add a word of clarification about tenure. The fact is, I strengthened tenure in Florida. We reviewed the criteria at every institution and we strengthened it. We shifted the important criteria to teaching, scholarship, and public service. And we created a post-tenure review program.

Those who went through the program successfully got a 9 percent pay raise plus their regular raise. Those who were recognized for outstanding teaching got $5,000 dollars net, plus their performance and across-the-board raises.

We did put in place an alternative at the new university we started in Florida to see if we could work without tenure. That was an experiment - and the jury is still out on that experiment. But the reality is, we had 100 slots to fill at that university and we got 18,000 applications.

And most of those applications were from tenured faculty members at other institutions.

The bottom line is, if there's any place in America to experiment, it's in the universities. You can try something, you can fail, but you can learn from it. That's what universities are all about - learning, and discovering better ways to do things.

I did not come to California to dismantle tenure. But I did come here with hopes of continuing a thoughtful dialogue on reaching higher levels of performance.

I have a great respect for all of you and for the work that you do. That's why I am anxious to hear more of your well-formed thoughts and insights about how to do what we do even better than before.

In closing, I want to reiterate the idea that the CSU should strive for excellence. We will face many challenges in the coming years, and we won't be able to sit on our laurels. Nor will we be able to settle for just being "good enough." The competition is too tough out there.

We are going to have to strive to be the best we can possibly be, all the time.

Some of you may have heard me say that the University of California system is the "showhorse," and the CSU is the "workhorse" for California. I am proud to play the role of the workhorse. We know that nearly half of all bachelors' degrees in California come from the CSU. We know that California's employers rely on the CSU as the source for well-trained, ready-to-work employees.

Above all, we know that the CSU's ability to provide students with an affordable, accessible, high-quality education is critical to the future of California.

That's a challenge that inspires me. And I think that California deserves no less than excellence from us.

Thank you very much. I will be glad to take any questions you have now.

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