Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Chinese-American Economic and Technology Development Association
Foster City, CA

Stanley Woo, Sen. Bill Sun, Director General Matthew Lee, and members of the organization - Thank you all for inviting me here this evening, and for honoring the California State University.

I'd also like to extend a special welcome to my colleagues who are here from the California State University: CSU Hayward President Norma Rees, our vice presidents, provosts, deans, chairs, and faculty.

And Stanley (Wang), thank you for that kind introduction.

Stanley is a true friend of the California State University. He spent eight years as a trustee of our university system. During that time he shared with us his time, his wisdom, and his generous spirit.

In 1998, Stanley and his family established the Wang Family Excellence Awards. This program gives $20,000 awards to four outstanding faculty members and one administrator each year.

Then in 2000, Stanley and his family created the Wang Scholarships, which provide students and faculty an opportunity to study and teach in China and Taiwan. Several of our first Wang Scholars will be on their way to study in China and Taiwan this fall.

Stanley, our students, faculty, and administrators will continue to benefit from your generosity for many years to come. Thank you for sharing so many of your gifts with our university.

While Stanley was a trustee, I had the opportunity to travel with him on trips to universities in China and in Taiwan. In fact, one of the places we visited was the National Taiwan University, where he and Franny got their bachelor's degrees.

What impressed me the most on these trips was the willingness of those administrators and faculty to enter into partnerships and work collaboratively with the CSU.

That kind of collaborative spirit is essential to success in the 21st century. I know that these universities — and the students who study there — will do well in today's partnership-driven, global economy.

I know it is late and you have a harp performance to look forward to, so I will not talk too long this evening.

I would like to give you just a few short facts about higher education and the needs of the workforce in California.

The CSU recently worked with an organization called Public Works to collect some information about California's workforce needs. We learned that:

  • Between 1996-2006, the growth rate in the field of computer engineering will be 108 percent

  • For computer science — 70 percent

  • For biological science — 35 percent

  • In 2001, there were 14,000 jobs unfilled in California in science and technology requiring a college degree.

  • In the Silicon Valley, the high-tech job gap is estimated at 160,000 positions
Another study from the California Council on Science and Technology also found that California is not producing sufficient skilled labor to meet industry demands. The report called for improving educational opportunities and increasing the number of graduates who are qualified for jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math.

So how does the California State University fit in to this picture?

The CSU is the largest university system in the country. We have 23 campuses across California and nearly 400,000 students. We have over 48,000 Asian-American students — over 15 percent of our student body — and many are the first in their family to earn a college degree.

We also send thousands of graduates out into the workforce each year. The CSU prepares about 60 percent of California's teachers. We also prepare more baccalaureate graduates in business, engineering, agriculture, and health care than all other California universities and colleges combined.

We work closely with businesses and community groups around the state to assess workforce needs and identify areas where more graduates are needed.

Currently, the CSU is struggling with enrollment and capacity issues.

We added 18,200 new students this year and we are expecting another 20,000 new students for the coming academic year.

Think about what a difference it would make in the workforce if all of those new students went straight into science and technology fields.

But the problem with expanding those majors is that the programs cost far more per student that most other programs.

That's because those programs require:

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Expensive laboratory and scientific equipment
  • More sophisticated computers and technology
  • Higher salaries to compete nationally for qualified faculty
Given the state's budget situation right now, it is highly unlikely that we will receive supplementary funding to expand these programs any time soon.

But we are committed to serving California's students and meeting the needs of California's employers.

So here are just a few areas we have been working on in the past few months to alleviate this problem and prepare more qualified graduates:

1) Even during this difficult budget time, Gov. Davis has proposed full funding for the CSU's projected enrollment increase. We are hoping that legislators will understand the importance of funding our enrollment and agree with this recommendation in the final budget.

2) We have convened a collaborative partnership between the CSU and NASA to address a critical link in this equation: teacher education. These partners are meeting next week to discuss how to improve the quality of technology, engineering, science, and math education for California's K-12 students.

3) Last week, the CSU convened a roundtable group to discuss how we can better meet California's workforce needs. Participants included CSU presidents, deans, community college presidents, CEOs of California businesses, and community leaders. We focused our discussion on how to help all CSU students achieve the skills necessary for success in the 21st century workforce. Those skills include:

  • The ability to think creatively and critically

  • The ability to relate and make decisions

  • The ability to adapt and transact in a global economy
So we are going to continue to look at these critical skills in all of our programs.

And we are going to continue to work with our community, education, and workforce partners like you to help prepare more qualified graduates for California's workforce.

I want to commend your organization for your important strategic goals:

  • Promoting economic cooperation between the U.S. and the Asian Pacific region.

  • Enhancing technological and scientific exchanges among professionals in the Pacific Rim.

  • Increasing Chinese American and Taiwanese American contributions to American society.
As you work toward these goals, I ask you to remember the California State University system:
  • Take a careful look at the statewide education facilities bond on the November ballot. The bond would provide $345 million per year for facilities at the UC and the CSU. All of the CSU campuses across the state stand to benefit from this bond.

  • If you are not already working with your local CSU campus, contact them and ask how you can help. Maybe your company can sponsor an internship for a promising math, science, or engineering student. Or maybe your company can offer summer employment for a math or science teacher. This will help them to get new ideas and become better teachers during the school year. It will help them bring science alive in the classroom.

  • Let us know how the CSU can serve you better. Maybe we can work together to identify new ideas and solutions for meeting California's workforce needs.
I want to thank you again for taking the time to talk about these issues and to think about the global implications.

The time that you have spent on these issues and the perspective that you bring to them will help our economy and educational system become even stronger than before.

Thank you again for inviting me here this evening. And again, Stanley and Franny Wang — you are role models for all of us. Thank you again for all that you do.

I look forward to working with your group again in the future.

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