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Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
Miami, FL
October 17, 2004

Thank you, Antonio (Flores).

And thank you to all of you for gathering here.

When we talk about championing Hispanic higher education, we are really talking about championing the future of higher education in this country.

In California, a state of 35 million people, one-third of the population is Hispanic.

Nationally, the Hispanic population is one of the fastest-growing segments of the population. And by 2025, the rest of the country will be looking more and more like California.

The Hispanic population is also young.

In March 2002, one-third of the country’s Hispanic population was under the age of 18.
Like all of you, the California State University is proud to provide access to these students.

We have more than 400,000 students on 23 campuses. Nineteen of our 23 campuses are members of HACU (ten are Hispanic-Serving Institutions, nine are associate members).

Systemwide, we are a majority-minority institution. More than 53 percent of our students are students of color. Last year we awarded over 11,000 B.A. degrees to Hispanic students. We also awarded almost 1,200 advanced degrees. We’re proud of our record.

But when we look at the larger picture, we have our work cut out for us.

Hispanic students continue to enroll in college at lower rates. Only 26 percent of Hispanic high school graduates ages 18 to 21 were enrolled in college in 2001, compared to 44 percent of whites.

We need to keep Hispanic higher education issues in the spotlight and make sure that they are addressed at the local and national level.

So what needs to be done?

1) Hispanic-Serving Institutions need to be recognized and funded appropriately at the federal level.

When it’s time to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, Congress needs to recognize the importance of funding HSIs.

The Higher Education Act reauthorization will be finalized in the coming year, so your annual Capitol Forum next April is very timely.

The California State University will be there together making sure that HSIs get a fair share of the federal pie.

2) We need a distinct funding source to improve graduate programs at HSIs – a program that would be similar to the one in place for Historically Black Graduate Institutions.

3) We need to fund a pipeline for Hispanic faculty and senior administrators. The disparity is extreme, and our students suffer from a lack of role models.

4) Most importantly, we need to undertake a broader focus on assisting underserved students.

We need to help these students understand

  • What the requirements are for college;

  • How to apply for the financial aid that will help them get there.

This week, the ACT released some sobering data about the college readiness of students who take their tests. They put it starkly: Most of America’s high school students are not ready for either college or work. Out of that general population, minority students are even less likely to be college ready.

Even more of a concern: The students currently near the end of the college preparation pipeline (eighth through tenth grade students) show no signs of being more ready than the high school seniors who graduated in 2004.

Some of you may have seen one of our efforts to address this situation at the California State University: Our “How to Get to College” poster explains each step in detail and in plain English and Spanish. This poster is sent to every middle school and high school classroom in the state. It includes all financial aid programs available with information on deadlines and applications required. This year, with the help of the Boeing Corporation, we sent out 500,000 posters.

Speaking of financial aid, the American Council on Education came out with a survey this week showing that large proportions of low-income and full-time students did not complete a federal financial aid application. Approximately 1.7 million students who did not file applications came from low- and moderate-income families.

And about 850,000 students—or half of the 1.7 million—were likely to have been eligible for a Pell Grant.

Also the majority who filed did so after important deadlines had passed, which reduced their chances of receiving state or institutional aid.

Why are these students falling through the cracks?

Why can’t we help them get where they need to go?

We need to make sure that we keep these education issues on the front burner and in the public eye.

I want to thank you all for giving these issues a strong public presence.

Before I close, I want to recognize and congratulate CSU Sacramento President Alexander Gonzalez, who is the incoming HACU chair.

Congratulations, Alex, and I look forward to working side-by-side with you in California and in Washington.

Thank you very much.

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