Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
CSU Legislative Day
Sacramento, CA
March 20, 2006

Thank you, Bob (Linscheid). And thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us here today.

I’d just like to take a moment to recognize my bosses, the members of the CSU Board of Trustees who are here today. Would you please stand?

Also I want to recognize my colleagues, the CSU presidents and the CSU vice chancellors. Thank you.

We’re only three months into the year, but 2006 has already been a great year for the California State University.We are looking at a good budget year ahead, we are working on important projects that are making a difference, and we are getting national recognition for our work.

The CSU is a university on the move.

We also have a great deal of momentum. We have renewed support from the business community, from the state and national political community, and from the constituencies that we serve, especially our traditionally underserved populations.

CSU Budget

Let’s start with right here in Sacramento. We have had strong support from the governor for this year’s budget. The governor has proposed a solid plan that honors our higher education compact. This proposal offers strategic enhancements to our budget that are going to be good for our students and good for the CSU’s future.

We will be able to open the doors of the university for more students.

We will be able to make some headway in closing the employee compensation gap.

We will be able to begin to turn the corner on some of the deficiencies we faced during the past few years of difficult budgets.

We will be asking the Legislature for their strong support of this budget.

Communications and Advocacy

Next – our communications and advocacy plan has got us “on the move” throughout California.

After our systemwide impact report came out, we began holding a series of conversations with California’s most influential industry leaders. We wanted to share what we learned about our impact on these industries, and to hear more about what we could do to prepare more students to work in critical fields. We have held sessions with leaders from the agriculture, entertainment, tourism, engineering, and computer science/information technology industries.

In each of the sessions, leaders asked for help in recruiting more qualified students, especially from traditionally under-represented groups. We have since formed task forces with each of these groups to follow up on their requests and strengthen our partnerships with them.

We have also held town hall meetings with African-American, Hispanic, and Asian groups to discuss how we can better reach out to and serve students in those communities.

Last month, we held a “CSU Super Sunday” at eight African-American churches in the Los Angeles area.

We had CSU leaders speaking at every church, letting parents, students, and community members know how we can all work together to help more students get ready for college.
We reached an estimated 20,000 people that day. And people were hungry for information – Some waited in line for as long as 40 minutes to get a poster.

Also, we recently signed an MOU with the Parent Institute for Quality Education – known as PIQE – to strengthen parent involvement with elementary and middle school students.

We are continuing to meet with working groups with communities from around California to improve our efforts to reach more students and ensure their preparation for the workforce.

I want to call your attention to a story on the front page of this morning’s New York Times, titled “Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn.” This article confirms for me the importance of what we are doing to reach out to groups like African-American men. If America does not reach out to this underserved group, there are storm clouds ahead.

Recognition for the CSU

I’m proud to say that the CSU has been getting a good deal of national recognition for its efforts.

In January, I was invited to attend the U.S. University Presidents Summit on International Education, held at the U.S. State Department. The event was co-hosted by Condoleezza Rice and Margaret Spellings. President Bush was also there.

The summit focused on strengthening international education and highlighting its importance to our national interest. Secretary Spellings highlighted the CSU and our Early Assessment Program during her remarks. I should also mention that the EAP was highlighted by the National Governors Association during its National Education Summit on High Schools last year.

Last month, Secretary Spellings invited us to participate in the U.S. Education Department’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education to discuss our partnerships with the private sector. The commission was very interested in what we had to say about the partnerships that we have developed with various industry leaders around the state.

And finally, earlier this month, USA Today used our EAP test as a positive example in an editorial about college readiness.

The editorial said, “California State University offers the most innovative solution. By using the state’s 11th-grade standards test to determine whether a student can take a college course for credit, students get a heads-up as to whether they’re learning what the university expects.”

I’ve heard from people all over the country on that editorial. That’s the kind of recognition we hope to continue to get for our efforts.

Future Challenges

With all of the momentum we have, we are poised to make a real difference in one of higher education’s greatest challenges of the future. That challenge is to reach out to traditionally underserved communities to ensure that all students are able to pursue higher education.

When we say that 54 percent of the CSU’s students are students of color, it may sound like a large number – and it is – but that’s not necessarily the case when you consider the students who are in the pipeline. Right now, approximately two-thirds of our state’s K-12 students are students of color.

I believe that the future of higher education in this country depends on our ability to reach students from traditionally underrepresented groups whom we have not yet reached.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education recently did a study showing that the average level of education in the U.S. workforce will drop in the next 20 years – unless states do a better job of raising the educational level of all racial and ethnic groups.

This tells me that the CSU’s critical mission is more important today than it has ever been – even more so than when Clark Kerr first envisioned the California State University system. It is our job and our mission to reach those students.

That’s why the work that we are doing makes us possibly the most important agency in California right now. In fact, we are about 15 years ahead of all other universities in the country on what we are doing with underserved groups. People are watching us to see what we will do next.

I think that Kevin Starr did a great job in describing our role in an opinion piece published in the L.A. Times last fall.

He wrote, “The California dream was historically anchored in people's hope for a better life. Today, these people - mainly the middle class - work the hardest and the longest to make ends meet. And there's only one part of state government that is clearly there still to help ordinary people reach their dreams: the California State University system.”

I hope all of you have a chance to read this important piece. You will find a copy in your Legislative Day packet.

Looking ahead, one thing is sure: A task as enormous as ours requires a lot of energy. Sustaining this momentum will require everyone’s participation, from our university family, to our business and community partners, to our legislative and political supporters. I hope everyone will continue to be inspired by our success stories and join us to work together on this important mission.

Let me close by sharing one success story that continues to inspire me.

I knew a young man who came to this country from Venezuela. He served in the Army for four years, including for a year in Afghanistan, to gain his U.S. citizenship. After he became a citizen, he came to the CSU. I received a letter from him in December as he was about to graduate from Cal Poly Pomona. It said:

"Dear Mr. Reed:

"It's hard to measure the extent to which we may be able to change someone's life; today that was easy. Thanks to your help, today I should graduate as an industrial engineer at Cal Poly Pomona.

You changed my life. Thanks to this, I have achieved my American dream. I was hired by Intel Corporation in Portland, Oregon. I start work there in January 2006. Also, I had the best job offer in my class. Hopefully, it will all be OK, and I passed all my classes this quarter.

Thank you, forever. Carlos Valencia."

That alone says it all for me.

I’m proud of what we all do every day, and I hope you will help us sustain our efforts to keep moving forward and working for California. Thank you very much.

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