Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
Washington, DC
March 31, 2003

Good morning, and thank you, Antonio. Today is a very special day in California, because it is a state holiday honoring Cesar Chavez, one of our state's great leaders. In California we observe this day as a day of service. I know that students, faculty, and staff from institutions throughout California are working today to serve our communities.

I also want to let all of you know that the CSU has two new campus presidents, at least one of whom you already know well: Alex Gonzalez, president of CSU San Marcos, has just been named president of CSU Sacramento. Also, Mike Ortiz, provost at Fresno State, has just been named president of Cal Poly Pomona. We are very proud and excited to have these two outstanding leaders at our campuses.

Some people say this is not a good time to be talking about higher education. But I think this is a time when our country needs our institutions more than ever.

The work that we do is especially important because of our country's rapidly growing Hispanic student population. Our students cannot afford for us to slow down right now. They need us to continue to support their efforts to get a college degree.

One of the ways we can support our students is by working together in Washington to find ways to help them more effectively.

You will be hearing a lot about the Higher Education Act reauthorization today. The reauthorization gives us a critical opportunity to assist Hispanic students.

In fact, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act gives us opportunities to strengthen our programs at every point along the continuum of higher education - from early outreach to college graduation to graduate programs.

I want to highlight just five of those areas where we can make a difference:

1. Early outreach:

The TRIO and GEAR-UP programs that are funded by the Higher Education Act are critical to reaching Hispanic students and getting them to think about college early.

We need to create more opportunities for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to operate these programs. We also need to keep TRIO and GEAR-UP separate because each has a distinct purpose and serves a unique cohort of students.

The California State University is going to continue to focus on early outreach because we know what a difference it can make. One of the most effective tools that we have found to use with these programs is our "How to Get to College" poster, which is printed in both Spanish and English. It shows students and their parents how to prepare for college, starting in the 6th grade. The CSU has distributed more than 300,000 of these posters, and they continue to be in high demand.

2. Financial aid:

A second area of the Higher Education Act that is going to be critical to serving Hispanic students is financial aid. We are looking for increased funding for Pell Grants and campus-based programs.

We also need to restore fairness to the formula that distributes federal funding for the Perkins Loan, Work Study, and campus-based aid programs. The current formula prevents campuses with rapidly growing populations of disadvantaged students from receiving their fair share of these funds.

As you know, this has been a very tough year for the budget, and it just got tougher. We are not expecting big increases for Pell Grants. However, we could see some gains if we are effective in sending a message. For many students, these grants could mean the difference between going to college or not going to college.

3. Teacher education:

Hispanic-Serving Institutions need to play a critical role in educating more Hispanic students to become teachers. This country needs teachers who understand the needs of today's students.

In this year's reauthorization, Congress is going to be especially concerned about the accountability of teacher education. Our institutions need to show that we can be accountable for teacher quality.

The CSU just conducted its second systemwide survey of its teacher education graduates. We are going to keep holding our graduates to high standards every year so that we can demonstrate that we are doing what it takes to prepare high-quality teachers.

4. Improving graduation rates:

Graduation rates are one of the key measures that federal and state governments use when they assess student achievement levels in higher education.

We need to make sure that our students have the support they need to fulfill their requirements and graduate.

We also need to work with the federal government as it develops federal accountability measures. We need to help them understand some of the challenges that our nontraditional students face as they work toward a degree. For instance, 80 percent of CSU students have jobs, and 36 percent work full-time.

But we still must show accountability for our graduation rates.

5. Funding for HSIs Graduate Programs:

Last, we need to look at funding for graduate programs at Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Our institutions should receive the same kind of aid that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) receive.

During the reauthorization process we will be asking for a new graduate education component for HSIs under Title 5. This is similar to the Historically Black Graduate Institutions program at HBCUs. And this is another area where we will have to be effective in communicating the need for this kind of program.

Now the big question is, how do we keep all of these issues on the front burner?

You have probably heard this advice before but it is worth repeating:

  • Get to know your member of Congress

  • Invite that member to campus regularly

  • Make sure they understand your university's circumstances and the needs of your students

  • Make sure they see how you are being accountable for what you do

  • Make sure you give them credit when they help you out.

And last, remember that "good politics" is not about being a Democrat or a Republican.

It's about getting to know people and helping them understand what you are doing. Ultimately, every politician - Republican, Democrat, or any other party - believes in the importance of education.

I wish you all a very successful meeting.

Thank you very much.

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