Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
HACU Town Hall Meeting
San Antonio, TX
October 30, 2006

Thank you, Ricardo (Fernandez, president of Lehman College, moderator).

Before I talk specifically about HSIs, I want to set the stage by talking about a challenge that all of higher education in this country is going to face in the next 25 years.

That challenge will be to reach students from traditionally underserved populations who are on the brink of becoming a majority population in this country.

If we don’t go out of our way to serve those students – many of who are the first in their families to attend college – we will miss the opportunity to serve a growing number of students.

If we don’t face this challenge directly, our universities and this country will become obsolete.

For HSIs, this challenge will be particularly acute because the vast majority of these new students are Hispanic.

HSIs will need to take the lead and show the rest of higher education how to reach these students.

One thing that’s for certain is that we can no longer take a passive approach to outreach or admissions. 

We can’t wait or hope for students to come to us. We need to get out of our current comfort zones and go directly into these communities to reach out to and assist our future students. 

We have to figure out how to go out and find people who usually don’t speak English as a first language, whose parents or grandparents may never have been to a college campus, and whose school district maybe hasn’t paid attention to their needs.

The California State University

The California State University is a good testing ground for this challenge. We are the largest and most diverse university system in the country.

Currently our total minority student enrollment on our 23 campuses is more than 53 percent, and our Hispanic student enrollment is 26.2 percent.

In 2005/06, we granted degrees to more than 16,000 Hispanic students.

As California’s Hispanic population continues to grow, our real challenge is to focus on the pipeline of incoming students. In 2003, Hispanics made up 34 percent of all California high school graduates, but only 16 percent were eligible for admission to the CSU.
We know that we have to start working with these students early to expand the pool of eligible Hispanic students and increase their graduation rates.

Some of the collaborative projects we have created with our K-12 and community college counterparts include:

  • 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 are distributing 500,000 copies of a redesigned poster this fall, along with another 500,000 copies of a hand-out version.
  • Community Outreach Forums, in which we seek to learn more from parents and community members about how we can better serve California’s students. We have held several community meetings with Latino and other minority leaders from around the state, and we’ve held “Super Sunday” events at African-American churches.
  • A partnership with the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) (P-K), to strengthen parent involvement in elementary and middle school students’ education. PIQE has developed a model for increasing parent involvement. During the nine-week PIQE training program, parents learn how to improve their child’s performance in the classroom and identify steps to help their child attend a college or university.

Beyond Our Campuses

Aside from those things we are doing at the California State University, there’s far more that we all need to do, all the time, as Hispanic Serving Institutions.

  • We need to continue to support and advocate for outreach programs such as Upward Bound, GEAR-UP, TRIO, and others. Middle schoolers in particular need our attention because many decide to drop out there. A lack of reading and reading comprehension is another problem.
  • We need to be prepared to do remedial education when those students arrive at our campuses, and we need to set strict limits on remedial education. For instance, at the CSU, we told students that they needed to finish their remedial education within one year or else go to get additional help at a community college. CUNY and Florida has all students get the help they need in community colleges.
  • We need to help recruit more Hispanic students to be teachers in public schools, so that more students have teachers who look like themselves.
  • We need to recruit more Hispanic faculty and staff at our university campuses. Faculty members hire faculty. That’s why we need to build Hispanic networks and our faculty members need to reach out.
  • Last but not least, we need to demonstrate to business and industry that it works to their benefit to support access. We need to engage as many of these kinds of partners as we can to ensure success in the community.

On the issue of undocumented students, California has a plan for those students.

If those students have been here for at least four years and have graduated from a California high school, they are eligible for in-state tuition.

The real challenge is for the federal government to change its perspective on these students. For instance, many of these students face extreme financial challenges. The federal government needs to open up Pell Grant eligibility for these students.

I want to end with one thought about what the consequences will be if we don’t find new and better ways to reach out to underserved populations.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education released a study last fall showing 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 Hispanic Serving Institutions have a big and important job ahead of us in reaching out to underserved populations.

Our communities and our economy are depending on us.

Thank you.

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