Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
African-American Community Meeting
Oakland, CA
November 1, 2005

Thank you for that welcome, Deacon White. And thank you to everyone for joining us here.

Why We Are Here

We are here today because we believe in the power of education. We believe that it can transform lives. We know that it can improve the economic situation of individuals and their communities.

The California State University is a university founded on a mission to provide access to a quality higher education. We are proud of what we do, and we want to find ways to make sure that we reach all students who can benefit from a CSU education.

That's why we are reaching out to communities across the state, including the African-American community here today.

The California State University

I'd like to begin with some brief background on the California State University.

When most of us think of the California State University, they think of their local CSU campus, like Cal State East Bay or San Jose State, or San Francisco State.

Lots of people are surprised to learn that the CSU system has 23 campuses around the state of California.

Also, many people don't know about the extent to which the CSU system has a major impact on the state of California.

Last fall the CSU released a report on the systemwide impact of the university system. The report gave us solid evidence to show that the CSU has a major impact on California and its citizens.

Because of what we learned in this report, we can say with confidence:

  • A CSU education helps to empower thousands of individuals in California.

  • A CSU education helps to build better communities in California.

  • Given the size of our operations, and the influence of our graduates throughout California, the CSU's total economic impact is more than four times greater than the amount of tax dollars the state spends to support us. The CSU more than pays for itself.
Also, the CSU is a leader in preparing students to work in jobs that provide service to the community.
  • We prepare nearly 60 percent of California's teachers.

  • We prepare 62 percent of California's public administration and urban planning majors. More than one-third of the members of our state Legislature are CSU alumni.

  • We prepare 64 percent of the state's bachelor's degrees in nursing.
In addition, more than 185,000 students contribute over 33 million hours of service to their communities each year, in areas ranging from education and social services to safety and crime prevention.

We are proud of our impact as an institution and we believe we are the best at what we do in the country.

For all of these reasons, we want to do whatever we can to help more students in traditionally underserved communities.

The CSU and Underserved Communities

Currently, the CSU's 23 campuses make up the most diverse higher education system in the country, with more than 54 percent students of color.

In fall 2004, we enrolled 22,500 undergraduate and graduate African-American students. That number includes 14,600 women and 7,900 men.

The CSU is also the state's leading institution in granting degrees to underrepresented ethnic and racial groups.

In 2002/03, the CSU granted more than half of all undergraduate degrees to California's Latino, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Native American students.

Last year alone, our campuses granted nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees to African-American students.

We are proud of these numbers, but we know that we need to do more to reach students.

Earlier this year, at a summit hosted by the National Governors' Association, we learned that America's educational system is losing most of its African-American males between 6th grade and 12th grade.

That's why our university system has taken the lead on a number of outreach programs to assist middle school and high school students and make sure they are ready for college.

We have launched 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 early results tell the students if they need to do more work in English and mathematics so that they will be ready for college by the time they are ready to apply.

The "Steps to College" poster, a poster the CSU produces in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese that spells out what middle and high school students need to do to prepare for college. It gives them a step-by-step guide to applying for admission and financial aid.

Setting the Stage for Discussion

Through these programs and others, we hope to prepare more eligible African-American students and increase their graduation rates.

But we are looking to you for suggestions on how we can improve that situation. I hope you share your thoughts with us on:
  • What are the factors that play the greatest role in helping African-American students succeed?

  • What is higher education's role?

  • What can we do to prepare more K-12 teachers who are better able to support African-American students?

  • How can we create a college-going culture among African-American students that sets high expectations for academic achievement and college graduation?
We hope that this event can be just the beginning of an ongoing discussion of how we can help reach more African-American students and help them along the path to a college degree.

Thank you for coming here today, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts throughout our discussion.

Back to speeches