Chancellor's Recent Speeches

CSU Program in Education and Research on Biotechnology
(CSUPERB) Symposium - 1/14/00

Good afternoon. And thank you for inviting me to speak here today at CSUPERB's 12th annual symposium.

I heard about some of your presentations yesterday and this morning, and I have also been scanning through the program to see what else is on the agenda. So I want to start by saying that what all of you are doing is, in a word, impressive.

I am proud to see that the CSU's biotechnology research and training is truly on the cutting edge. And I am especially pleased to see that what we're doing is so relevant to the needs of California's economy and its future workforce.

In fact, I want to spend my time today talking about the CSU and its role in developing California's workforce, particularly as it relates to biotechnology.

Earlier this week, I gave a presentation that included some basic facts and figures about the CSU. Even people who were closely involved with the CSU were surprised to learn some of these facts:

One -- The CSU awards more bachelor's degrees and master's degrees than all other colleges and universities in California combined.

Two -- The CSU trains more graduates in engineering, agriculture, business, health professions, and education than all other California colleges and universities combined.

Many of you have heard CSU referred to the "economic engine of California." As you can see, it has earned that title for good reason. For example, Silicon Valley would probably shut down if it had to operate without CSU graduates.

But -- this part is especially important -- it's not just about the quantity of students we train, it's about the quality.

Recently, a corporate executive told me that he would hire a CSU graduate before he would hire a student from any other university. He said it's because our graduates can hit the ground running. They know what to do, and they've had good, solid training in how to do it. I take that as a big vote of confidence in what we are doing.

As for biotechnology, we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us. The biotechnology industry is projected to grow from about 165,000 current employees to somewhere between half a million and a million workers by 2010. This could mean about 180,000 new jobs for California in the next ten years.

As this industry expands beyond research to development, manufacturing, and production, the CSU will play an increasingly important role. These new jobs in the applied sector will call primarily for bachelor's and master's degree holders, as opposed to PhD's. That means that the CSU is perfectly positioned to be a chief supplier of employees for this growing workforce.

Now while the CSU is not a primary research university, I want to point out that we have done significant research in biotechnology. As this field continues to grow and develop, the search for new knowledge is very important. So I am very pleased that we have established such a strong research foundation on which to further build and develop our biotechnology programs. We now have a solid platform from which to train the kind of graduates who can "hit the ground running" in these new jobs.

I also want to point out that the CSU has at least one important advantage over research universities. What the CSU can provide that research universities do not is an atmosphere in which undergraduate and master's level students interact with and even collaborate with faculty. I want to praise and thank CSUPERB for helping to sustain and develop this culture of collaborative learning.

In fact, business leaders often tell me that they wish today's students came better prepared to work in teams.

And the new jobs in biotechnology will require strong teamworking skills. So I encourage all of you to promote teamworking opportunities for students whenever possible or practical.

Now -- a look to the future.

First -- about funding: In the last budget, we secured $1 million for biotechnology, which was an important milestone for us. Now the burden is on us to demonstrate what we are doing with this money. The watchword up in Sacramento is "accountability." So how we use these funds will influence the state's future investments in us.

A clear plan that shows how we are going to spend state funds on collaborative research and workforce preparation will allow us to make the case to obtain an additional $1 million, hopefully for the upcoming budget year.

Second -- a few words on teacher preparation and training. I am sure many of you have heard about one of my major priorities, which is to help improve California's K-12 schools and teacher preparation. The idea is, the better our incoming students are prepared, the more those students can get out of a CSU education.

That is not to say that the other CSU academic programs are any less important. In fact, the quality of all our academic programs is of the utmost importance to me.

The problem is, we can have the best faculty in the world, but if incoming students don't know what they're doing, our programs won't be able to take them very far. That is why I have such a strong concern about the kind of education that the K-12 schools are offering our future students.

I want to challenge all of you to think about how you can better integrate your activities with teacher preparation and inservice or continuing education of teachers.

In other words, how can we help current and future teachers better prepare young students to succeed in biotechnology and the sciences? Can we create more faculty-to-faculty partnerships? Can we offer more CSU students as math and science tutors in the schools? I would like to see these kinds of questions become part of an ongoing dialogue in your programs, and a part of your future planning.

Third -- just a few more words on partnerships.

I have been traveling around the state telling educators that partnerships will be the key to success in the 21st century. I want to thank you for blazing the trail on business/higher education partnerships.

The closer we work with our students' future employers, the better we understand the employers' training and workforce needs. Your programs have created an especially strong example for the rest of us in this area.

I also want to commend you for your efforts to cooperate and collaborate across CSU campuses. CSUPERB stands as a shining example of the benefits of cross-CSU collaboration. I hope that other CSU programs can learn from your example.

I want to encourage you to keep developing these constructive partnerships. I also want to encourage you to continue to build stronger relationships with our other partners in education, such as the community colleges. The better we communicate and share information with our community college counterparts, the better prepared our transfer students will be when they come to the CSU.

Once again, when students are well prepared, they have a better chance of success at the CSU and in the workforce.

I want to close by saying that this is an exciting time for biotechnology. I hope that many of you saw the front page of today's Los Angeles Times, for instance, where there was a story about a project to genetically modify rice to boost its Vitamin A content. This innovation could make a profound impact on the diet and nutrition of poor children around the world.

I am proud that the CSU has been a key player in the biotechnology industry, and will continue to have such an important role. I especially want to commend you for the leadership you have provided in this important field. And I will look forward to hearing more about our efforts to prepare current and future students to become successful, well-trained members of California's workforce as scientists, researchers, and more.

Thank you again for inviting me to this symposium.


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