Chancellor's Recent Speeches

South Bay Business Roundtable
Torrance, CA

Good morning, and thank you for asking me to speak here today. I hope that you had a relaxing Labor Day weekend.

I want to thank the CSU Dominguez Hills School of Business for coordinating this roundtable, especially Dean Donald Bates and Scott Curtis. I also want to recognize and thank President Lyons for all of the work that he has done in this community.

I understand that this breakfast includes a very diverse group of guests, from businesses, to government, to schools and community colleges. That says to me that the South Bay is a very vibrant, dynamic area that is full of people who are committed to improving their community. Thank you all for your interest in education as it relates to the business development of the South Bay area and of California.

CSU Background

First - some quick background on the CSU:

Lots of people know their local California State University campus, but they don't realize that the CSU system is the largest four-year university system in the country.

The CSU has 23 campuses all around the state, from Humboldt to San Diego. The Chancellor's Office, our main system office, is just around the corner in Long Beach. Altogether, the CSU has over 370,000 students and 40,000 faculty and staff members. This year we are expecting our highest enrollment ever.

Our mission is to provide a high-quality, affordable, accessible higher education to all qualified California students.

We draw our students from the top third of California's high school graduates. We also place a high priority on providing access to community college transfer students. For every first-time freshman, we admit two transfer students.

All told, the CSU awards about half the bachelor's degrees and a third of the master's degrees in California. We prepare about 60 percent of the state's teachers.

And here's one statistic that always surprises people: Our campuses train more graduates in business, engineering, agriculture, communications, health, and public administration than all other California universities and colleges combined.

Challenges for the CSU

These days, preparing students for the workforce is becoming increasingly challenging for many reasons, including:

  1. Knowledge-Based Workforce: California and the rest of the country is making the transition to a knowledge-based workforce. That means that more jobs require a higher education.

  2. Tidal Wave II: California higher education is in the middle of a population boom known as "Tidal Wave II" or the "baby boom echo." The CSU expects to have nearly a half-million students by 2010.

  3. Remedial Education Needs: K-12 schools are dealing with many challenges, and unfortunately, many students come to our institutions without the math and English skills they need to survive in college. That means we have to offer them remedial education.

  4. Need for Relevant Workforce Skills: Graduates need to have the most up-to-date skills in order to make the transition from the university to the workplace. That means that our universities have to work closely with businesses to find out what their needs are and what kind of skills they expect our graduates to hold.
In a report earlier this year, the National Commission on the High School Senior Year found that each part of the education system seems to operate in isolation from the other and rarely communicates. So we're working on both ends of the equation to try to help students make a seamless transition from high school to college to the workforce.

K-12 Collaboration

Let me talk about the K-12 angle first:

We know that the best way to help our students be prepared for university study is to get involved in the K-12 schools. So we've done that on a large scale.

OUTREACH: We have a $9 million project that reaches out to more than 220 of the public high schools that send us the most students needing remedial education. Our faculty have joined with teachers to help with readiness testing, curriculum development, and aligning college-high school standards. Locally, we've brought this program into Banning and San Pedro High Schools.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Over the last two summers, we've worked with the UC to offer professional development to 80,000 teachers.

CSU TUTORS: We've trained CSU students to become tutors to work with high school students on English and math skills.

POSTERS: We've distributed 150,000 posters in English and Spanish that give a step-by-step guide to preparing for college. We've updated the poster to include more financial aid information and will distribute another 100,000 this fall. I brought along several of these posters; my office will also be glad to send you more copies if you are interested.

But we know that we still have a lot to do. For instance, while our students are finishing remedial education faster, there are still too many who need remediation. We've made good progress in mathematics, but our progress has slowed in the English language area.

We've also made a solid commitment to improve the quality of the teachers we train. With the research firm SRI, we have conducted a massive evaluation of our teacher education programs, which will come out this fall. We know that we have room for improvement, and we are committed to making the changes that are needed.

CSU Workforce Preparation

On the other end of the educational process is the university's link with the workforce.

The CSU has many business partnerships that help the business as well as students.

We have a Lockheed Martin partnership, for example, that teams up students, faculty, and Lockheed Martin employees to conduct engineering and computer science research. The partnership builds stronger connections between Lockheed Martin and our faculty members and helps us get a better sense of what they want our students to know.

The partnership also helps students get hands-on preparation for the workforce. Many of them have been hired by Lockheed Martin, and they are able to "hit the ground running" once they get to work.

At the local level, the School of Business at CSU Dominguez Hills has partnered with Gardena Senior High School and local businesses to create the Southern California International Business Academy (SCIBA).

Our faculty members help young students who are interested in a career in business prepare for college entrance and business careers.

These kinds of partnerships are critical to our survival as an effective, relevant university. We welcome opportunities to work with businesses and find new ways that we can help you and you can help us.

So - getting right to the heart of the issue - what can we, the CSU, do for all of you?

How can we build stronger connections with your organizations?

How can our students get more exposure to your organizations so that they are better prepared when they graduate?

I'd be glad to hear any of your suggestions on this topic.

Let me thank you again for coming here, especially right after a holiday weekend. I'd like to open it up now to any questions or thoughts you might want to share.

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