Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
5/4/00

Good morning, and thank you. I am very pleased to be here, and I am grateful for this opportunity to speak.

This is the 3rd time I have been invited to speak to HACU -- and I enjoy it every time.

As I continue to meet new colleagues from around the country, I realize just how many of the same issues and concerns we share. We may have many miles between us, but we share a common concern for the future of our students.

You have asked me to speak about creating K-12 and higher education partnerships for Latino success. This is an extremely critical issue for California.

In his State of the Union address, President Clinton said that within 10 years there will be no majority race in California. In a little more than 50 years, there will be no majority race in the U.S. And so as our country continues to diversify, we will need to renew our focus on access. We will need to expand our efforts to reach all students, from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, at all stages of life.

Or to put it another way: We have to do more than simply keep our doors open. We have to actively reach out into the community.

I want to talk about five areas in which our universities can increase our capacity for reaching out:

  • Having a strategic plan
  • Maximizing resources
  • Expanding technology
  • Recruiting and preparing teachers
  • Being accountable

1. Having a Strategic Plan

A strategic plan sets a course for the future -- and it sets a standard against which we can measure our progress.

If we include partnerships with K-12 schools as part of our strategic plan, those partnerships become part of our mission and our goals for the future. By including K-12 partnerships in our strategic plan, we guarantee that they will remain a top priority.

Partnerships should become part of the discussion at every level of the university. At the CSU, our strategic plan known as Cornerstones has helped us stay focused on our mission to provide access to students and to be student-centered. It has helped us frame our policy discussions so that we always ask this question first:

"How will it help the students?"

I strongly urge all of you, if you have not already done so, to craft a strategic plan that specifically addresses K-12 partnerships.

At the CSU, we have included an accountability measure for each university and the chancellor's office to keep score on how we are doing with our partnerships.

As a part of our efforts to reach out, we have distributed these posters, printed in Spanish and in English, to middle and high schools all around the state. The posters give a step-by-step guide to college preparation, starting in 6th grade. We have distributed thousands of these posters -- as well as posters for community college students who hope to transfer to the CSU -- and we continue to get daily requests for more. We also have distributed a fact card about the CSU, printed in Spanish and in English.

Please let me know afterwards if you are interested in receiving a copy of any of these publications or our strategic plan.

2. Maximizing Resources

Second, I want to emphasize the importance of maximizing resources.

We are all working in a time of limited resources. In fact, I have never heard of a university that complained of having too many resources. The problem is, we are all trying to do more with less, especially when we set ambitious goals for K-12 outreach.

One solution is to maximize our existing investments -- in particular, our facilities. When we make the best use of our facilities, we fulfill two goals. We make the most out of an existing investment. And we expand our ability to reach out to students.

For instance, we can reach more students if we offer classes at our facilities day and night, evenings and weekends, and in the summertime. This allows us to serve students who may not otherwise be able to attend university classes.

We can also collaborate with K-12 schools to make better joint use of our facilities. For example:

  • Their elementary school classrooms can offer learning opportunities for our teacher education students.

  • Our science laboratories can offer new learning experiences for high school students.

  • Their auditoriums can serve as community gathering places for our representatives to talk to local families about college opportunities.

  • Our libraries can offer K-12 students a chance to research and utilize the latest information technology.

There are countless ways to team up with K-12 schools without having to make major investments. We simply have to make creative use of the resources we already have.

3. Expanding Access to Technology

Next, expanding access to technology:

The historian Henry Louis Gates recently wrote that we may soon face a "devastating" form of segregation in the new century. He calls it "cyber-segregation." This term means that unless we make a concerted outreach effort, we are in danger of leaving behind those students who do not have access to computers or other technology. Incidentally, President Clinton was in Colorado and North Carolina in the last two weeks to talk about this very issue.

Our universities, like many others around the country, are expanding our offerings to reach more people through online classes, CD-ROMs, or other mixed media technology. But we cannot allow those students without access to computers or other technology to be left behind. The students who are most likely to miss out are the ones who need help the most:

  • Students from impoverished backgrounds;
  • Students from another country who speak a different language;
  • Students who are the first in their family to go to college.

At the CSU, we offer a successful on-line application system known as CSUMentor. Last year, the number of on-line applications we received was four times the amount from the year before. But we now have an obligation to find out who wasn't able to use it -- and to help those students get online as well. For instance, we need to find ways to make the financial aid application easier to understand and more accessible.

As we continue with these efforts, all of our outreach projects should make a priority of getting younger students "linked up" to technology -- if not in their homes or in their classrooms, then at our universities. Once again, we cannot afford to leave any student behind.

4. Teacher Preparation

Next, I want to address the important issue of preparing more high-quality teachers.

As higher education becomes more universal, it is increasingly important that students understand basic skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics. This means that our elementary and high school teachers will have to be prepared to teach those skills effectively. It also means that universities will have a greater responsibility to train high-quality teachers who understand the real needs of today's classrooms.

Preparing high-quality teachers for the next generation should be a top priority for all of our universities.

In addition, we need to respect the growing diversity of our student population. Our new teaching force must look like and understand the needs of our students. That is why I call upon the larger Latino community to help us encourage more community members to be teachers.

Let's go to the K-12 schools to recruit teachers who look like our students.

Let's help paraprofessionals get the training they need to become teachers.

Let's find ways to encourage more mid-career adults to begin teaching.

And let's create clubs or other groups at the high school level for young people who might want to become teachers.

The future of our children and our grandchildren depends on it.

5. Effectiveness and Accountability

Finally, I want to touch on the importance of measuring effectiveness and being accountable.

Simply put, the best advocates are the most accountable advocates.

We can help more people when we are able to show that what we are doing makes a difference.

  • We need to grade ourselves the same way we grade our students.

  • We need to measure our progress in how we have helped K-12 students.

  • And we need to demonstrate that we are serving the community effectively.

When we demonstrate accountability, we will earn greater support from our community, from policymakers, and even from our students. I urge all of our universities to make accountability a key part of the plan to reach out to the community.

Closing

Someone asked me recently to describe what universities will look like in the 21st century. I told them that our community involvement is what will distinguish us from some for-profit Web site that is granting degrees out in cyberspace.

Colleges and universities need to be out there in the community, working with individuals, working with schools -- and making sure that all students have the opportunity to receive a high-quality college education.

I recently had an experience that crystallized for me just how important it is to reach out to the community. At our new CSU Channel Islands campus, we held a special ceremony when the state officially transferred the land to the CSU. It was a formal event, with seats set up on the lawn, a large podium, and all sorts of honored local guests. Throughout the ceremony a man, who stood out from the rest of the crowd because of his old work clothes and baseball cap, stood to the side behind a cluster of trees.

He came up to me afterwards and explained that he worked at a farm down the road. Although he had never had a chance to attend college, he was determined that his son would attend this new campus. So he asked me to sign the program for his son, as a representation of the dreams and the hopes in store for him.

I think this story says a great deal about what higher education can and should be in the future. It should be a place where the son of a farm worker can find the doors of opportunity open. It should be a place that makes high-quality, affordable education accessible to all citizens. It should be a place where needs are met, goals are attained and dreams are realized.

I want to thank you again for taking the time to talk about partnerships today. I believe that when educators work together, share ideas, and create partnerships, we are able to improve quality at all of our institutions for all students.

Thank you very much.


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