Chancellor Timothy P. White's remarks at California Community College League, January 28, 2013 | Chancellor's Speech | CSU

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Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
Super Sunday – Bakersfield
St. John Missionary Baptist Church
Bakersfield, CA
February 17, 2013

Reverend Alfred, President Mitchell, Barbara Young, and the beautiful members of the congregation, thank you for your warm welcome.

I don’t know whether to give my prepared speech or just yell out “Almighty God! Hallelujah! Go to school! Stay in school! Go to Cal State Bakersfield! Amen!”

It is an honor and a joy to be here – and Happy Birthday, Reverend.

In my day job I work in a large office building in Long Beach. But my heart truly belongs with the students and their families. That’s why it is so inspiring to be here with you.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet so many community members and young people whom I hope will someday join us on one of our campuses.

It’s a point of pride that Bakersfield native Assemblywoman Dorothy Donohoe was one of the authors of California’s Master Plan for Higher Education in the early 1960s.


For better or for worse, I’m a product of that master plan: all of California’s systems of higher education – having attended a community college, two Cal State campuses, and UC Berkeley.

But if you had known me in high school or college, you would have never thought I would amount to much, let alone a leader. And I did not come from a family of means.

In fact, I was told I was a “dead end” kind of student.

But hearing those words made me look inside myself and become even more determined to succeed.

I found my bearings because of my college experiences – and because of support from my family and my community.

It’s not where you start. It’s where you finish.

And because of my education, I am now in a position to give back to a state where I’ve had a chance to live my version of the American Dream to try to help other students be successful.

If I can do it, anyone can.


The CSU is celebrating Super Sunday all throughout the month of February and even into March. This is a time when the CSU visits African American churches across the state to promote the value of a college education.

We’re at about 100 churches this year. We reach more broadly into the African American community, and other communities of color, each year – and we’re deeply committed to the success of this program.

Super Sunday isn’t about just one Sunday. It’s about a pathway, a journey, a “rocket ship” if you will, to be super.

And Super Sunday has inspired year-round efforts such as summer algebra institutes, a Super Saturday College Fair, and Train the Trainer workshops for church educational liaisons.

We have also added a Parent Training Program component to establish Parent Involvement Centers in churches, because we know it takes a village to love and guide and support our children to a better future.

Now – does this stuff work? We’ve learned that these efforts over the past several years have resulted in an increase in the number of African American students applying for freshman admissions at CSU campuses, which is very gratifying and encouraging.


In today’s high-tech and global economy, where it used to be a high school diploma, it is now a higher education that has become the necessary admission ticket to good jobs and a middle-class lifestyle. 

Higher education also carries far more meaning beyond an increase in a person’s income.

Higher education:

  • Builds stronger communities;
  • Creates more engaged citizens who will vote, sit on boards, and work for the good of the communities and schools;
  • Raises the tax base to support programs we value and results in fewer people relying on public support.

We know that getting to college is not easy for many students and families.

That’s why we have been working to help more students get access to college, and overcome all of the hurdles and challenges they face on the way to graduation. 

I want to share with you just one brief story about some CSU students who were mentoring young people at a housing complex in a poor community.

The college students were helping the kids take pictures of things they would like to see changed in their community.

One of the young people took a picture of his mentor wearing a CSU t-shirt, and captioned the picture, “My Ticket Out.” Isn’t that powerful? Those young kids can see that going to Cal State is a ticket out and up?

That speaks volumes to me about the hopes and dreams of so many young people – and it inspires me to want to help them find their way to the CSU.

I am here this morning to share with you that the CSU’s commitment is stronger than ever to motivate and encourage African American students to prepare for college success and earn a university degree. As long as you have the capacity and willingness to do the work, we are there for you.

I want you to know that:

  • We are one of the most affordable university systems in the country – by far.
  • All students who have financial need receive financial aid from the state and the federal government.
  • Students whose families make less than $70,000 per year or less receive financial aid resources that practically allow them to attend college tuition-free. We will not let cost get in the way of going to a Cal State University.
  • For those who are planning to enroll in college this fall, the deadline for submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (called the FAFSA) is March 2ndYou have to get this form in to qualify for financial aid – and there are some in the foyer today. It is a must-do. Even if it’s a long possibility, if you know someone who might need it, take that FAFSA with you.
  • CSU students also have access to numerous internal and external scholarships.  It is very important for students to pursue these scholarship opportunities, and we can help you research that information.

I hope that after the service you will stop by the CSU booth and pick up the “How to Get to College Poster” and other materials. 

Talk to our outreach experts and to our CSU alums.

I know Reverend Alfred will be happy to talk about his experience as a proud alumnus of Cal State L.A.

In fact, we have a number of CSU alumni who are here in support of you.  Will all of our alumni please stand? 

I want to reiterate that the CSU has made a firm commitment to the communities of California. We stand with you.

We want to be partners with you in the success of your children and grandchildren, and even yourself, if that is your dream.  

Together, we can ensure that every African American child has an opportunity to go to college AND graduate.

Let’s work together to get your sons and daughters on the college track.

Thank you, Reverend Alfred, for allowing me the opportunity to engage with your congregation this morning. 

God bless you all!