Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Address to the California Citizens' Commission on Higher Education
And the Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for
Education -- Kindergarten Through University
Policy Summit on Tidal Wave II - 9/22/99

To the members of the commission and the joint committee -- thank you for arranging this important discussion, and for inviting me to speak about the California State University.

Thanks also for recognizing the importance of looking at education as a continuum -- that what affects K-12 affects higher education, and vice versa.

Tidal Wave II and its effects will be an issue that transcends all boundaries in our state's education system. The California State University has a central role in this enrollment question -- because it is the segment that provides the state's main avenue to the baccalaureate degree.

The CSU's mandate is to enroll the top third of California's high school graduates, plus community college transfer students. Its role is to give them access to a baccalaureate degree. In fact, we grant half of all the bachelor's degrees in California.

In addition, the Cornerstones document, our primary policy statement, states clearly that one of our four main goals is to ensure access to higher education.

The CSU also has a central role and responsibility to help improve the K-12 schools, from training its teachers, to creating partnerships with them.

Thus our mission and our role are critical to the state's educational and economic welfare.

As far as Tidal Wave II, we know all about it -- it is here already. The CSU's enrollment figures this year will be higher than previously anticipated. At the moment, we are on a trajectory to reach 365,000 students.

We have in the past been able to take all qualified students. But this year for the first time, several of our universities have (or are about to have) more qualified applicants than space or resources needed to serve them. They are now pressed to the extent that they will have to turn down qualified students if we don't take immediate steps.

This fall, one of our institutions had to turn away 4,600 qualified students, nearly 800 of whom are local or regional students who may be "place-bound."

Plus, as we look ahead, we are anticipating growth of 4 to 5 percent each year -- or 12,000 to 15,000 new students a year. This enrollment pressure will certainly exceed the capacities of several of our universities very soon.

CPEC has also projected a rapid increase in enrollment for the CSU. According to CPEC numbers released Monday, CSU's undergraduate demand is expected to increase by 42 percent, or 117,000 students, by fall 2010.

While this massive growth in enrollment will not sway us from our mission, it has caused us to reassess strategies for sustaining that mission.

At our board meeting last week, our trustees asked us to review our policies on enrollment to ensure that our mission to provide access is preserved in the face of this enrollment pressure.

We already know that we will to have to find ways to deal with enrollment growth -- especially for those universities whose physical and operational capacity is already or soon to be reached. A difficult issue at these universities is that many of the qualified applicants live nearby and cannot easily travel to another CSU campus. These universities will therefore face tough enrollment decisions ahead.

We are looking at several steps to address this complicated issue -- across the system and within a given campus. Those steps can be classified into two major approaches: Redirection and Expansion of Capacity.

Redirection:

Our first approach is to look at how we might encourage redirection to other CSU campuses. We have policies in place to do this, although we have not had to rely on them in the past.

But we're reaching the point where we must address this option to see if and how it fits our mission.

We know, for example, that many CSU students are place-bound. Many of our students are married, have families, or live at home. Their resources and personal commitments require that they attend a local university. So the question is, to what extent must we make the local campus available to those students in order to preserve CSU's mission of reasonable access?

I recognize that state policy defines access as to the CSU as a whole system and not necessarily to a given institution. Yet how reasonable is this if students cannot move to another campus?

So this is clearly an issue that we will be wrestling with over the coming months and years.

Increasing Capacity:

Our second approach is to look at how we might increase capacity on our campuses to handle new enrollment growth. Some strategies for increasing capacity on our campuses include:

  • Expanding year-round operations;
  • Increasing use of off-campus sites;
  • Offering more programs through distance education;
  • Offering more classes on nights & weekends.

Some or all of these are done to an extent on each of our universities. But the campuses that are nearing capacity will have to make more use of these options immediately, especially if it is determined that redirecting regional applicants is not in keeping with appropriate provision of access by CSU.

More on Year-Round Operations:

I would now like to spend a few more minutes talking about year-round operations, because this approach is one that seems to make particularly good sense given our current situation.

Four CSU campuses already have state-supported year-round operations: CSU Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and CSU Hayward. A fifth, Humboldt State, will begin next summer.

Along with the legislature, we are studying the feasibility and logistics of expanding year-round operations to all CSU campuses. This study will be completed by April 1.

Establishing year-round operations at our impacted campuses (or supporting the development of additional off-campus centers for these fully enrolled universities) would allow the CSU to fully realize its mission to provide access -- at least for students needing access to their local or regional CSU campus.

One advantage of year-round operations is that it both increases capacity and helps students who want to finish their degree faster. Over a period of years, it allows a greater number of students to complete their baccalaureate studies in a shorter time. Students also would be helped under state-supported year-round operations because they would pay the same fees as in the regular academic terms and not the higher fees required now through our extended education, self-support summer programs. With the expansion of year-round operations, everyone wins -- the public, the students, and our system.

  • The public and the state supports year-round education by providing the same funding per student, allowing a university to provide the same instruction and support that students now receive in January or September. However, the CSU is able to educate more students per year without the proportional increase in some physical facilities.

  • The students win because they can finish their degrees faster, pay lower fees, and enter the workforce sooner.

  • CSU benefits because we can hold to our mission of providing access to all qualified students, including those students who cannot be redirected to other regions of the state.

We believe that the time for year-round operations has come for several more of our universities and will be here shortly for others. We also believe that more students will embrace summer study as soon as they recognize that access to their university of choice and practical need is linked to summer as well as fall and spring.

One other consideration in year-round operations is to offer this option by program rather than by university -- for instance, offering year-round teacher preparation programs, which are already in effect on a few of our campuses.

As everyone here understands, our state desperately needs more well prepared teachers in its classrooms. It is to the state's benefit that we help prospective teachers complete these programs in a timely fashion.

Compact II

I would like to close with one final observation relating to this projected enrollment increase: The sheer magnitude of Tidal Wave II presents another argument in favor of Compact II. With this huge surge in enrollment, the CSU needs to know that we can count on a corresponding increase in funding from the legislature.

The approval of a Compact II would also signify a commitment on the part of our policymakers that education funding is a statewide priority.

Closing

In sum, the CSU plays a pivotal role in access. Since this enrollment pressure is real, the threat to our ability to provide access is real.

We will continue to work diligently on expanding our capacity and maintaining our commitment to provide access to all qualified students. And we will gladly work further with this commission and the joint committee to explore other options and solutions.

I thank the commission and the joint committee for holding this forum today.

I also hope that its members will include the CSU in further discussions as we continue to address this issue and the issue of improving all public schools.

Thank you very much.


Back to speeches