Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
CHESS IX Conference
Sacramento, CA
February 20, 2004

Thank you.

I appreciate you asking me to speak tonight. Many of you are here as current student leaders or alumni leaders.

Leadership is often difficult to define. I remember a story about a father who was helping his child fill out a college application. A question directed to the parents was, "Would you consider your child to be a leader or a follower?"

After much deliberation, the father wrote that he felt his child, although very much an individual, was really more of a follower.

Not long after, a letter of acceptance arrived from the college, accompanied by a note from the director of admissions welcoming his child.

"We feel he’ll fit in especially well," said the letter, "since he will be the only follower in a class of 412 leaders."

This weekend, you have gathered as the student leaders of the California State University. While you come from different places, you all have something in common.

You are, or have been, students of one of the greatest educational institutions in the country, one that is committed to providing a high-quality, accessible and affordable education to all students.

That commitment is being challenged. Many of you are aware that we are facing significant budget cuts. The governor’s proposed budget cuts an additional $240 million or 9 percent from our 2004-05 fiscal year budget.

This means that the state has reduced our budget by $771 million or 29 percent in the past two years. The result is that this year, we will have to turn away qualified students.

In fact, we anticipate that approximately 20,000 students will not be able to attend our universities. Our goal is to preserve and protect access and quality. We do not want to enroll students and then not have the classes available for them to take. That would be disastrous.

These budget cuts will not only impact the CSU but the state of California. Fewer students admitted to CSU means fewer educated citizens entering the workforce to provide the jobs California’s economy needs.

The CSU plays a critical role in the state’s economy by providing thousands of job-ready graduates each year.

The governor is also recommending redirecting 10 percent or about 4,000 CSU first-time freshmen to the community colleges. These institutions are already financially strained, and this will be an even heavier burden.

The governor has also called for a stable, predictable fee policy. This is something we have been advocating for a long time. We have been working on a policy with our students and our faculty which will be discussed by the Board of Trustees at its March meeting.

I am also very concerned about the budget’s impact on funding for EOP and academic preparation programs. These have been very successful for students – the programs have helped many CSU students attend college when there were no other opportunities.

We have seen how these types of programs create leaders of the future. EOP graduates have gone on to be successful in education, medicine, business, government and many other fields.

We are working to let legislators know how important these programs are to students. We know the CSU budget will have to be reduced and we will have to take our share. But, we want to decide how and where these reductions take place.

Now, the good news: I had a good meeting with the Governor recently and I believe he and his staff will be flexible. We are hopeful that the administration will allow the CSU to make the decisions about our own budget.

He understands our challenges and more importantly, he understands how vital the CSU is to the state.

Over the next several months, we will continue to work cooperatively with our campus presidents, student organizations, the statewide budget advisory committee, the Academic Senate, labor leaders and others to come up with a comprehensive budget plan.

We will also have a comprehensive plan on how we will deal with the 2004-05 budget at the March Board of Trustees meeting.

We are looking at our summer operations. We want to make it as efficient as possible for students to get summer classes.

There is a Budget Summit scheduled for March 10 to discuss some of these issues and the leadership of your organization has been invited to participate.

Bond Measures
Since our primary election is just a week or so away, I want to encourage you to look carefully at the bond measures that are on the ballot.

The statewide CSU Alumni Council and the Board of Trustees have endorsed both Propositions 57 and 58, which is the $15 billion bond measure and the cap on state spending.

They have also endorsed Proposition 55, which will provide more than $12 billion in bond funds to upgrade and repair schools. There is about $690 million in Proposition 55 that is earmarked to fund capital projects at the CSU.

So, be sure and read up on these measures and exercise your right to vote on March 2.

What You Can Do
It seems appropriate that the title of your conference this year is, "Unite and Ignite!"

We will need all of you, as leaders of the CSU, to help us spread the message that CSU is working for California. Our mission continues to be providing affordable, accessible higher education to the people of California.

We are asking our constituencies from students, alumni, parents, employees, business and community organizations and every concerned citizen to talk to their legislators.

Let them know that our university system is vital to the state’s job creation and its economic prosperity.

Share your experiences as a student and continue to be active student leaders on your campus and in your communities. Together, we can make our voices heard.

I would like to thank all of you for participating in this very important dialogue, and for being proud representatives and leaders of the California State University.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak tonight.

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