Chancellor's Recent Speeches

CSU Quality Improvement Facilitators

Thank you, Richard (West). And thank you all for that welcome. I'm very pleased to be here today.

They say the greater the gratitude, the shorter the speech. So I will try to show my gratitude by keeping this brief and to the point.

When I first came to the CSU, I was concerned because I did not see the word "quality" on the top of the list of any of our priorities. In fact, it took me a while to find the word "quality" in the Cornerstones document -- it's not even mentioned among the major priorities and goals.

But I am glad to see that we are actively renewing our commitment to quality. I am especially pleased that all of you have dedicated so much time to the issue of quality improvement.

The message I want to share with you today is this: We need to focus on quality every day, in everything we do. Quality improvement will be important not only to the success of the CSU, but perhaps even to our survival as an institution.

One of the best explanations for this that I have heard comes from Jim Kelly, who is the CEO of UPS. He is known around the country not only for his innovations in management and quality improvement, but also for his dedication to education.

Jim Kelly recently spoke on how technology will reshape our economy and even the way our society does business. He said,

"In this new business model, there is no room for human, technical or political inefficiencies. That's because [the force that drives our economy] is the consumer."

He went on to describe how consumers can now research products and compare prices and quality -- in just seconds. Consumers can now dictate what they want, when they want it, and where they can get the best quality for their money. He then said that, "Any company, large or small, that can't face global competition - that can't satisfy global consumers -- is in for very difficult times in the coming years."

Now I know that a university is not the same as a business.

But do we offer a product? Yes, in the form of education, which is a critical prerequisite for the jobs of the future.

And do we have consumers? Yes, in the form of students, who come to us at all ages and stages of life. By 2010, we may have 130,000 more students.

And will we face global competition? Absolutely. We will compete with local, national, and international universities, and even with those for-profit institutions that exist only on the Web. If our students have to stand in long lines, fill out redundant paperwork, sit on hold for hours on the telephone -- or if they can't get the classes they need to graduate -- they'll start to look elsewhere for educational opportunities.

So if we want to survive in this technology-driven, consumer-centered world, our institutions will have to offer the best quality education and services for the best price.

That means that we have to be accessible -- We have to offer programs when students want them and where students want them -- whether it is in classroom, on CD-ROM, on the Internet, or in some mixed mode of delivery.

It means we have to operate smoothly and efficiently -- We can't have duplications or wasted effort.

It means that we have to maximize the use of our facilities -- We have to make the most of year-round operations as well as evenings and weekends.

And it means that we have to find creative ways to make our resources go further than ever before.

For example, IBM cut their purchasing costs by $7 billion dollars when they put compatibility measures in place. We can take the same kind of approach when we're seeking out vendors, especially when we leverage our position as the largest four-year system of higher education in the country.

Another example -- At the University of Florida, administrators did a major overhaul of the budget management process by changing over to a paperless system that is accessible on the World Wide Web. They decentralized the process by shifting the authority to manage the budget from the university to the deans.

Under the old system, the central administration recovered all unspent funds, so the deans had no incentive to let any money go unspent. With the new, decentralized system, the university rolled over $6.7 million dollars -- seven times the amount that they used to carry over each year.

So it can make a major difference to have everyone involved and interested in quality improvement processes.

Here at the CSU, I know that our quality improvement facilitators and function chairs are working hard to carry out these important ideas. I also know that you sometimes feel like you don't get the support you need on your campuses.

Well, you're hearing it straight from me now -- I'm 100 percent behind what you're doing.

I recently had a chance to look at some of the information put together by Gary Frederickson of Pomona, who is a function chair for student health. He put together an inch-thick statistical analysis of the health services provided on our campuses -- how often they are used, and how people rate those services. This information can help us find out exactly how many people are using these services and what they think of them.

This kind of analysis gives us an important tool for benchmarking for the future. And it's a real step toward improving the quality of some of the most critical services we provide. So thank you for your work, Gary.

I know that many of you have similar projects to which you have dedicated your time -- and I hope you will continue to share your results with the rest of us so that we can learn from your best practices. I also hope you will continue to remind your colleagues that what you are doing is necessary not only for our success but also for our survival.

We are a student-centered institution. And everything we do to make ourselves better will ultimately improve the lives of our students and the quality of education they receive.

Once again, we need to focus on quality every day, in everything we do.

Let's carry that message back to our campuses loud and clear.

I thank all of you for helping us work toward becoming a better CSU.

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