Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
CSU Branding Launch
San Diego, CA
May 5, 2006

Thank you, Susan (Rainey, superintendent of Riverside schools). And thank you all for your leadership, and for the invitation to speak here today.

The California State University is the country's largest four-year university system in the U.S.A. We have 23 campuses and over 400,000 students. We have a direct economic impact in California of $7.46 billion. When the higher earnings from our graduates are taken into account, the total impact is more than $50 billion.

Our mission is to provide California's students with accessible, affordable higher education.

More than 80 percent of our new first-time freshmen come from California's public high schools. When you take into consideration the students who transfer from the community colleges, it's more than 90 percent.

We go on to grant approximately 82,000 degrees each year. In fact, we grant more than half of the bachelor's degrees granted in California. Not to mention that we prepare nearly 60 percent of the teachers in California's public schools.

We're proud of our mission and we're proud of our role in working closely with California's K-12 schools. That is why I have made partnering with California's public schools one of my top priorities as chancellor.

Challenge Ahead

That said, we are all facing a major challenge in the coming years. Our challenge is to ensure that all California students are able to pursue higher education.

The future of education in California - and ultimately our economic success - depends on our ability to reach students from traditionally underrepresented groups whom we have not yet reached.

Consider this: 54 percent of the CSU's students are students of color. That may sound like a large number - and it is - but it's not necessarily large enough when you consider the students who are in the pipeline.

Right now, approximately two-thirds of California's K-12 students are students of color. I know those numbers are even larger in many of the cities you represent. In this respect, California is about 15 years ahead of the rest of the country. We have to look at new models to determine how we are going to serve different populations of students.

For instance, let's look at Hispanic students: 26 percent of the CSU's students are Hispanic. That's larger than just about any other public university system, but it pales in comparison with the 46 percent of California's K-12 students in the pipeline who are Hispanic.

The reality is we are simply not doing enough to help these incoming students get the information and take the courses they need to prepare for college - specifically, the A-G course requirements. In 2003, only 16 percent of California's Hispanic high school graduates successfully completed the required courses to enter the CSU or UC, according to the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC). Many of these students did well in high school, but didn't have the information they needed to prepare for education beyond the 12th grade.

Our African-American students, particularly males, also deserve special attention. Studies have shown that many young black men are struggling in school, and completing high school has become the exception for this group.

CPEC reports that only 18.6 percent of African-American high school graduates were eligible for the CSU in 2003. Compare that with 47.5 percent of Asian and 34.3 percent of white high school graduates who were eligible. Again, we are failing to meet the needs of those students who simply do not have the information or resources to get on track for college.

What are the consequences if we don't find new and better ways to reach out to underserved populations? The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reports that the average level of education in the U.S. workforce and the personal income of Americans will drop in the next 15 years unless states do a better job of raising the educational level of all racial and ethnic groups.

This tells me that we must find new ways to help young people from traditionally underserved groups and their families. We cannot simply wait for those students to find their way to a college or university.

There are grave consequences for our economy as well. A population with lower levels of education means lower levels of productivity and prosperity. And California's business leaders understand this.

Many of these business leaders have asked us for help in recruiting more qualified students, especially from traditionally under-represented groups. But facing this challenge will require a lot of energy. We don't need to blame anyone. We all just need to get on board - our fellow educators, our business and community partners, and our legislative and political supporters.

At the CSU this has meant moving beyond our existing outreach efforts and partnerships by creating new venues to reach students.

Town Hall Meetings

First - we have gone directly to the African-American, Hispanic, Native American and Asian and Pacific Islander communities. We've held town hall meetings about how we can better serve students in those communities.

For example, in February we held a "Super Sunday" event, where CSU presidents and trustees went to eight African-American churches in the Los Angeles area to talk about college at church services attended by some 20,000 people. We expected a receptive audience, but we were surprised to the extent that people were truly hungry for information. We had some parents and students waiting in line for more than 30 minutes to receive a copy of our "How to Get to College" poster. I'll say a little more about that poster in a minute.

We will hold another event with the African-American community in Oakland on June 11.

We've also entered into a partnership with the Parent Institute for Quality Education to strengthen parent involvement in helping their children get ready for higher education. Our campuses are partnering with about 150 schools to get this effort going.

EAP

Another way we are working to reach high school students is through the Early Assessment Program, or EAP. We created this test program, along with the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education, to help 11th grade students to get a 'snapshot' of their math and English proficiency. The test incorporates our placement standards into the California Standards Tests for English and math.

If the EAP shows that that a student needs more work, they can use their time in 12th grade to brush up on the skills they need for college. We've created lots of opportunities for students and teachers to get help. For instance, we have two web sites, www.csumathsuccess.org and www.csuenglishsuccess.org to help students prepare in those subject areas.

In March, 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."

Last year, about 120,000 students took the math test and 186,000 took the English test. But we are still trying to encourage more students to take the test - especially those students who are the first in their families to attend college.

Poster

We also created a "Steps to College" poster, which gives middle and high school students the steps they need to take to prepare and apply for college and financial aid.

For the last six years, we have distributed copies of the poster in English and Spanish to middle and high schools throughout California. Last year, we partnered with Boeing to print more posters and expand our distribution. We also partnered with three Asian newspapers to print and distribute copies of the poster in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

After the Super Sunday event, the LA Times ran a picture of a young man looking at the poster. The Boeing name was clearly visible in the picture. The next day I got a call from Boeing offering us another $50,000 to keep printing the posters.

Lots of times people tell me that they want a copy of the poster because they haven't seen the information anywhere else. This tells me that there is a need and a demand for this information, and we want to do whatever we can to help fill this need.

I've brought copies of the poster here with me today and I will be glad to have our office send you additional copies if you want more.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these issues and working with you on the challenges that lie ahead. We need to be partners on these important efforts.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak. I will be glad to take any questions.


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