Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
HENAAC Dinner
Anaheim, CA
October 6, 2005

Thank you, President Rosser.

I thought I would share a quick story I heard about an engineer…

An engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter says, "Sorry, sir, you're not on the list."

So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and is let in.

Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements. After a while, they've got air conditioning and escalators, and the engineer is a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls Satan up on the phone and says, "So, how's it going down there in hell?"

Satan replies, "Hey, things are going great. We've got air conditioning and escalators, and there's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next."

God says, "What??? You've got an engineer? That's a mistake! He should never have gotten down there. Send him up here."

Satan says, "No way. I like having an engineer on board, and I'm keeping him."

God says, "Send him back up here or I'll sue."

Satan laughs out loud and answers, "Yeah, right. And where are YOU going to find a lawyer?"

The California State University system shares in the national concern about the shortage of technically skilled workers - and the shortage of under-represented minorities in science, engineering, and technology.

According to the Business-Higher Education Forum, the United States awarded just 61,000 degrees in engineering in 2002, compared to 103,000 in Japan, 134,000 in the European Union and 195,000 in China.

The CSU is in a unique position to make a difference. With 23 campuses and approximately 400,000 students, we are the largest university system in the country.

Our system is a leader in preparing students for engineering fields. We award more than half of the California's baccalaureate degrees in engineering, including a significant percentage in California's critical information technology and electronics industries.

Aside from being the largest, we are also the most diverse university system in the country. Currently our minority student enrollment is more than 53 percent, and our Latino student enrollment is 21 percent. In 2003/04, we granted degrees to more than 14,000 Latino students.

As California's Latino population continues to grow, we are committed to increasing Latino students' college preparedness - and encouraging their participation in science and technology fields.

The real challenge is for Latino students - and all groups, for that matter - to have proportional representation in the eligibility pool.

Right now California is close but not quite close enough. In 2003, Latinos made up 34 percent of all California high school graduates, but only 16 percent were eligible for admission to the CSU.

Our university system is working to expand the pool of eligible Latino students and increase their graduation rates.

We have created a number of collaborative projects with our K-12 and community college counterparts.

Those projects include:

The Early Assessment Program, a voluntary test that lets 11th graders assess their college proficiency;

The "Steps to College" poster, a poster offered in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese, which spells out what middle and high school students need to do to prepare for college.

We hope to see many of our alumni - especially those students from traditionally under-represented groups - go on to become leaders in engineering and other critical fields.

Some of you may already know that the CSU is holding a series of events around the state to focus on different industries and communities that are critical to the CSU.

We have held several discussions with Latino leaders from around the state.

Later this month, we will be holding a forum with leaders from the engineering industry.

We have copies of the program available for you to look at tonight. I hope that many of you will be able to attend.

We look forward to hearing more from all of you about what we can do to better prepare our students for jobs in the engineering field.

We are especially hoping to hear:

  • What are the roadblocks or impediments for students to pursue these fields?
  • How can we communicate better with parents and students?

Thank you all for your interest in this topic and your attendance here tonight.


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