Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
California Club
Los Angeles, CA
September 19, 2002

Thank you for that warm welcome. It is a real honor to be here today.

Hugh, (Hugh M. Grant, California Club president), thank you for allowing me this opportunity to speak.

And Kirk (Calhoun), thank you for that introduction.

Kirk is a longtime supporter of the California State University. He has served on the CSU Foundation's board of governors since 1988, and he is about to start his third term as chair.

Under Kirk's leadership, the foundation's assets have doubled. So you can see why he is such an important member of our team. Kirk, thank you for your support.

I also want to recognize Louis Caldera, the CSU's vice chancellor for university advancement. Louis is a former Secretary of the Army. He also served in the California State Assembly, representing this district. We are extremely fortunate to have him as a part of our team. Louis, thank you for joining us here today.

Today I want to tell you a little more about the California State University - what we do, who we serve, and where we're headed.

CSU Size and Scope

I do a lot of traveling, and often when I am sitting on a plane, the person sitting next to me asks me what I do. I tell them that I am the chancellor of the California State University system.

"Oh, the University of California," they say. "That's a great university."

I tell them that they're right, the UC is a great university system. But they don't seem to realize that California has two outstanding state university systems, the UC and the CSU.

The UC is the greatest research system in the world.

And the CSU is the greatest teaching system in the world.

Just to give you a sense of who we are:

The CSU is the largest university system in the country, and probably in the world.

We have a $6 billion operating budget, and 44,000 employees.

We serve more than 400,000 students on 23 campuses.

And we're growing: This fall marks our eighth straight year of enrollment increases.

We are enrolling about 22,000 new students this year, and we expect this kind of growth to continue through this decade.

But even with this kind of growth, we continue to offer opportunity to students who might not otherwise have a shot at higher education. In fact, the reason I came to California is because of the students.

A few facts about our students:

  • The average undergraduate age is 24.

  • About one in five students is the first in his or her family to attend college.

  • Two in five come from homes where English is not the main language spoken.

  • Four out of five have jobs

  • More than a third work full time

Our student population is more than 53 percent minority.

And our campuses represent nine of the top 25 universities in the country in terms of granting the most baccalaureate degrees to minority students.

So when we talk about providing access and opportunity for students on a large scale, we are right out there ahead of the rest of the nation.

Quality at the CSU

But it's not enough just to be a large institution. You also have to do things well.

I mentioned that the CSU is a teaching institution. This means that we offer small classes, direct interactions with faculty members, and hands-on learning experiences.

We're trying to put our programs through rigorous evaluations to make sure we are up there with the best in the country.

For example - last year we became the first university in the country to do a systemwide evaluation of teacher education programs.

We're also earning national recognition.

For example, CSU Northridge was one of only four universities in the country that was chosen to take part in a $40 million Carnegie Corporation program on innovations in teacher education.

One month later, CSUN got more good news: Michael Eisner and his family gave them a gift of $7 million for teacher education.

So when it comes to quality and leadership, people are increasingly thinking of the CSU and places like CSU Northridge.

Challenges Ahead

As we continue to carry out our work, we are facing a number of challenges ahead.

I thought I would briefly mention just three of those key issues: enrollment, teacher education, and workforce preparation.

1 - Enrollment

As I mentioned, the CSU is growing in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, it's growing at a time when our state's budget is in bad shape.

We now have more students than we were funded for, and we may be facing further budget cuts in the coming months.

This calls for a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, we have to stay true to our mission of serving all qualified students. On the other hand, we have to keep the quality of our programs and services high. One way of approaching this issue is to increase capacity at our existing facilities:

  • Instituting year-round operations

  • Offering evening and weekend classes

  • Using technology to reach more students off-site

We have more than 35 million square feet of state-funded facilities space. But our facilities are aging. More than half are over 28 years old, and many need repairs and upgrades. So we are trying to focus more attention on the need for renovations and construction.

You might be interested to know that there is an education facilities bond measure, Prop. 47, on the November ballot. This bond would fund facilities at K-12 schools, community colleges, the CSU, and the UC.

It would mean about $496 million for the CSU. So I ask you to take a careful look at Prop. 47 before you go to the polls.

2 - Teacher Education

Another CSU priority is helping to improve California's public schools. We are closely connected to the schools because we prepare nearly 60 percent of California's teachers. We're also closely connected to the schools because the vast majority of our students come from California's public schools.

Many of these students do well in high school but then they come to us without the proper college-level English and math skills.

So we're working closely with the K-12 schools to prepare better teachers and to help students get ready for college:

Partnerships - Reaching out to high school students and teachers on curriculum, testing, and college preparation help.

Posters - Distributing more than 150,000 posters around the state to help students understand what it takes to get to college.

Reading -Making sure that our teachers know how to teach reading - an essential skill for learning.

Math - Making sure that high school math prep courses mean something - not just "almost math" or "someday it'll be math."

3 - Preparing California's Workforce

The last major priority for the CSU is to prepare students to meet California's workforce needs.

Each year, the CSU graduates about 75,000 students. We prepare more graduates in business, engineering, agriculture, health, education, and public administration than all other California colleges and universities combined. That's why we say the CSU is "Working for California."

But we know that California needs even more workers in critical fields like nursing, science, computer science, engineering, biotechnology, and other emerging fields.

We want to know how to better connect our students with California's workforce needs.

To answer this question, we have decided to ask the experts: you and your colleagues.

We have created a web site that will serve as a platform for sharing ideas on workforce preparation. That web site is:

We are asking employers from around California to visit our "virtual discussion forum" on this site and to let us know how we can better prepare students for the future.

I hope that you will take the time to join in the discussion. This site will be up until Thanksgiving. After that, we'll collect our findings and use the information to improve programs at all of our campuses.


I hope that this has given you a good overview of our students, our programs, and our challenges ahead.

I look forward to seeing many of you again as the CSU continues to build more partnerships with California's business community.

In the meantime, please take home a copy of the CSU fact card that is on the tables. Read it, study it, learn more about us. Share it with a friend.

And please free to contact me or Louis if you have any questions or suggestions about how we can better help you.

Thank you again for inviting me here today.

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