Chancellor's Recent Speeches

EDUCAUSE - Long Beach - 10/27/99

Thank you very much.

I know I am supposed to talk about systems and synergy, but I want to start with something that many of you are probably thinking about -- baseball.

I am assuming that quite a few of you are planning to watch Game 4 of the World Series tonight. So I will start with a quote from Babe Ruth on teamwork -- which also relates to synergy. He once said: "You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but the way a team plays as a whole determines its success."

In other words, you can have nine fantastic players out there, but if they are not working together, all you have is nine individual efforts. That is not the same as a team effort.

When we talk about synergy, the idea is the same. With synergy, the combined effect of all of the elements is more than the sum of the parts. And when we talk about synergy with systems, the idea is to have them all working together so that 1+1 equals more than 2.

With that idea in mind, I want to talk today about:

  • "Where we are now" at the CSU;
  • Our old, or "legacy" systems versus our new systems;
  • How the strategic plans for our multi-campus system fit together;
  • Our plans for implementation and accountability.

As an aside -- it seems especially appropriate to talk about integration at this, the first joint meeting of EDUCOM and CAUSE. I congratulate your organizations for this union, and I look forward to hearing more about the lessons and models that will grow out of it.


Prior to coming to the CSU, I was chancellor of the State University System of Florida, with 10 campuses. So I had some sense of what it might be like trying to integrate the activities of the CSU's 23 campuses, all spread across nearly 1,000 miles.

Luckily, when I arrived at the CSU, I found that a great deal of work in integrated systems planning had already been done.

  • We had a strategic academic plan known as Cornerstones.
  • We had a comprehensive technology plan called ITS or Integrated Technology Strategy.
  • We had an administrative strategic plan called CMS or Common Management Systems.

I believe these plans are compatible and may serve as a model for other education systems that are coping with the challenges of the digital age.

Briefly, let me describe these plans:

1. Cornerstones

Cornerstones is based on four fundamental commitments by the CSU to students and the state of California. The CSU will ensure:

1) Educational results;
2) Access to higher education;
3) Financial stability;
4) University accountability.

These four policy goals are explained by 10 supporting principles, each offering specific recommendations. Cornerstones supplements but does not replace individual campus strategic plans. It is systemwide and statewide in scope, and it is based on a sense of shared responsibility.

2. ITS

The Integrated Technology Strategy is comprised of many far-reaching initiatives, including the CMS. But the infrastructure buildout piece is a prerequisite for those initiatives, so I will focus on it first.

The current state of technology on CSU campuses is uneven. Some CSU campuses have made large investments in their technology infrastructures; others have not had the resources to do so.

The ITS plan responds to three main areas of need: access, support, and upgrades.

1. Access: All students, faculty and staff need access to a networked workstation.
2. Support: We need user training and support programs that ensure predictable and consistent services.
3. Upgrades: We need to upgrade our hardware, software, and network access on regular cycles to take advantage of new teaching and learning technologies.

Under our plan, students, faculty, and staff will have access to modern workstations and software, and a program to keep them up to date. Also under the plan, our students, faculty and staff will have round-the-clock access to network connections, and support services such as help desks and training programs.

The baseline telecommunications infrastructure will be built out for all campuses within three years -- with upgrades done on a three-year cycle.

3. CMS

Next, our administrative strategic plan, Common Management Systems, is a key part of the overall technology strategy.

A major issue for higher education and many businesses is whether to replace old administrative systems or to re-engineer them. Internet compatibility, eroding vendor support for older systems, and the Y2K issue are all powerful motivators for change.

In California, we also had these issues to address:

  • The CSU essentially has data systems rather than management information systems.
  • Our financial system does not connect with a variety of campus student record systems.
  • A human resources component (where 80 to 85 percent of our budget is spent) is virtually non-existent.
  • Plus, the state controller's office moved to a new payroll system that requires changes to CSU processes and systems.

With the CMS, our goal is to achieve the following in five to seven years:

1) Perform administrative functions according to "best practices;"
2) Support human resources, financial, and student functions with common software;
3) Operate the administrative software at shared service centers.

In fall 1998, we selected PeopleSoft to provide the administrative services for CMS.

Despite the costs involved, I believe that this multi-campus, multi-year, and multi-application project has benefits for the institution and the individual.

Benefits to the institution:

  • Improved human resources processes that help to recruit and retain qualified faculty and staff;
  • Elimination of redundant data entry;
  • The ability to link data and allow for better coordination of system and university-wide strategic goals;
  • More reliable comparative data;
  • Greater accountability to legislators and regulators.

Benefits to individual users:

  • More timely information on admission requirements;
  • Electronic grade reporting;
  • Instant information about course prerequisites and required reading.

So as you can see, we believe that there are many benefits across the board.


When our goal is to create synergy, we need to think about how to integrate our systems. Even if they are all working individually, it's not as good as if they are working together.

Our first consideration in the integration process was whether our systems were compatible. Although different in tone and substance, I believe they share common principles and goals. In broad terms, information and instructional technology can help achieve Cornerstones goals because:

  • Technology provides the necessary infrastructure for teaching and learning.
  • Technology plays a critical role in increasing the speed and quality of Cornerstones implementation.
  • Education in the information age must include learning about technology while learning with technology.

Cornerstones and ITS are therefore traveling parallel paths toward common objectives. Likewise, the CMS will be developed alongside the technology buildout.


If the devil is in the details, then an implementation plan may be the real test of whether the visions, goals, and initiatives of a strategic plan are viable.

We all know of strategic plans that are now gathering dust for lack of a detailed implementation commitment -- complete with resources, tasks, timelines, and responsibilities. But what is the point of getting the plan together if it's not going to be used? As Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

While our plans are proceeding along different implementation paths in terms of structure and process, they share a common culture of broad participation.

For Cornerstones, the implementation process is directly linked to the 10 guiding principles of the plan itself. For each principle, a series of roughly 50 specific actions have been identified for campus or systemwide responsibility. Each action is intended to improve the teaching and learning process for students while giving campuses the greatest possible degree of flexibility.

The Integrated Technology Strategy and its CMS administrative initiative have scores of systemwide task groups working on each of their major components. In each instance, the goal is to help update individual campuses in phases extending over many years.

So coalition building, teamwork, and leadership are key elements of these and other implementation strategies.

One additional note: Risk-sharing and cost containment are essential components of any successful implementation strategy.

For example, the CSU currently is looking for partners to share the risk of outsourcing the hardware and operations management to support the CMS applications in a production environment. The creation of such a strategic risk-sharing alliance provides benefits to both parties:

  • For the CSU, it helps us to control implementation costs.
  • For the CSU partner, it provides participation in an outsourcing endeavor with one of the largest higher education PeopleSoft projects to date.


Through accountability, we measure the goals or outcomes we are trying to achieve through strategic planning, and we get the feedback we need to make adjustments.

But accountability is also part of our commitment to the public that we will perform our job well. Performance-based funding is a challenge, and I welcome it.

To be accountable, we must prove that we meet at least three goals:

First, are we satisfying our commitment to provide access to all eligible students? Our state's population boom -- known as "Tidal Wave II" -- will result in a surge in higher education enrollments in the next 10 years. Our job is to provide the physical, human, and electronic infrastructure to accommodate the needs of all of these students.

Second, are we satisfying our commitment to academic quality? Accreditation evaluations, student learning, graduation and retention rates, satisfaction surveys, and other indicators must all add up to quality.

Third, are we meeting goals for productivity -- personal as well as institutional?

We must leverage our academic and administrative assets to meet reasonable economies of scale. The CSU has established an elaborate accountability process for each of its three strategic plans.

For Cornerstones, performance indicators have been established in 12 separate areas, with responsibility shared between the Chancellor's Office and the individual campuses.

In some areas, annual reviews are conducted, while three-year cycles are more appropriate in others.

In the technology area generally, the CSU has entered into a long-term commitment with the California Legislature to provide tangible measures of success.

From now until 2008, the CSU will be submitting annual reports on a variety of "success indicators" for each of the eleven initiatives of the Integrated Technology Strategy.

For CMS, our goal is to demonstrate that moving to common administrative systems will save money for the institution and improve individual productivity. As the CMS systems get off the ground, we will assess their use and cost, and we will survey student and faculty assessments of their quality.

Compact II

One final footnote: Although the research and data collection process can be costly and burdensome -- especially in a multi-campus system -- it is worthwhile if accountability in performance can be linked to predictability of resources.

For example, the CSU had a four-year budget compact with the state that ensures stable funding in return for meeting enrollment and productivity commitments. We have been able to achieve funding increases in priority areas like faculty salaries and technology in exchange for meeting quality and productivity targets.

This year, we are asking the state to help us with a similar partnership.


I would like to end my remarks here with a brief wrap-up.

At the CSU, we have spent a great deal of time crafting strategic plans and systems. But we have found that it is just as important for these plans and systems to work together as it is for them to work alone. Once again, it's about synergy.

Also, as academic institutions, we must remember that the reason we are here is to serve students. We need to keep a student-centered focus on everything we do.

And by keeping a strong focus on students, we can continue to plan strategically for the future with clarity and purpose.

Once again, I thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

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

Back to speeches