Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
CSU "Super Sunday"
Oakland, CA
June 11, 2006

Thank you, Reverend Smith, and thank you to everyone for joining us for this morning's special presentation.

We're here today to talk about the importance of helping our students make it to college and earn their degree.

In the past, college might have been optional. But these days, a college degree is becoming the minimum requirement for getting a good job and succeeding in the workforce. We're living in a knowledge-driven economy, where businesses want workers who understand technology, who know how to think and communicate globally.

More jobs than ever require a college degree. And there is a major pay differential. A degree could mean nearly twice as much during your lifetime. A college graduate can expect to earn $2 million over a lifetime, compared with $1 million for a high school graduate.

That college graduate goes on to bring even more benefits to his or her community. Studies show that college graduates have better health, have better child-rearing skills, commit fewer crimes, and give back to their communities in greater numbers.

I truly believe that education is the cornerstone of a healthy society.

That's why I want to make sure that we are getting all of our future students on track as soon as possible.

CSU Role

I'm proud of the role that the California State University plays in educating African-American students.

We are the most diverse university system in the country, with more than 54 percent students of color. On our 23 campuses, we enroll nearly 20,000 African-American students. We are a friendly place for African-American students.

But I know we need to do even more.

We want to make certain that more African-American students are eligible for the CSU.

And right now we enroll almost two African-American women for every African-American man. We need to do more to reach out to and engage our young men.

We also have a commitment to student success, which means we're interested in more than just opening the doors. We measure our success not just by how many African-American students we enroll, but by how many we can help all the way through to a degree. Graduation is what it's all about.

Kamar O'Guinn

Some of you may know a young man named Kamar O'Guinn.

Kamar had a difficult childhood growing up in West Oakland. At age 17 he was ready to join the army. But with encouragement from a retired officer, he went to college instead. He had only $300 to his name.

Now he is a successful student and chair of Cal State East Bay's Associated Students. He was a winner of the CSU system-wide William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement. He is a leader on campus and a role model for all students.

I had a chance to work with him on the search committee for the new Cal State East Bay president and he is a thoughtful, dedicated young man.

There are plenty of young people like Kamar who would thrive in college and who need our support.

Our goal is to find ways to reach those students and help them make it all the way through the process. That's why we are hosting today's event and others like it all around the state.

Steps to College

We have lots of information available to parents and students. But our challenge is getting it to the right people. So - Parents and students - here's what you can do:

One - Read our "How to Get to College" poster. This poster spells out all of the steps that a student needs to prepare for college, beginning in middle school. We will have this poster available afterwards for anyone who is interested.

Two - Take the full college preparatory curriculum, known as the A-G requirements. Even if you are not planning on going to college, this curriculum will give you a solid grounding in the basics and prepare you for the workforce.

Three - Get on a computer and log in to the Cal State web site: That web site will point you to CSU Mentor, which will help you get all the information you need to plan for and apply to college. We will have CSU Mentor demonstrations going on here today.

Four - Learn all you can about financial aid. We are extremely lucky to be in California because our university fees are low and our financial aid programs are very generous. But you need to know where to apply and when. You can learn more on our web site and on this poster.

Five - Take the Early Assessment Test in the 11th grade. This is a voluntary test that is an extension of the California Standards Test that students already have to take. It'll take 30 minutes extra. But those 30 minutes can save you an entire year. It will let you know if you need to do more work in your senior year to get up to speed on English or math.

A Role for Everyone

Last, if you don't have a child who is in school, consider this: When we ask successful people what made a difference in their lives, the common thread was that they all had some kind of mentor, whether it be a coach, or a counselor, or a pastor, or a family friend.

I ask each of you to ask yourselves if you can be that person in a student's life.

If we are going to bring higher education to the next generation of students, we all need to be involved.

We held a similar "Super Sunday" event in Los Angeles in February, and we are continuing to do follow-up with church education leaders and pastors.

We hope to stay engaged with churches in the North in the same way.

One last thing - Here is why I love my job. I got a letter recently from a young man who was just about to graduate from one of our campuses. I want to read to you from this letter:

"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.

You changed my life. Thanks to this, I have achieved my American dream. I was hired by Intel Corp...I had the best job offer in my class. Hopefully, I passed all my classes and it will all be OK.

Thank you, forever."

Again, that's why I love this job.

Thank you again for having us here today - for what I hope will be just one of many "Super Sundays."

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