October 14, 2009

TO: All CSU Employees

FROM: Charles B. Reed, CSU Chancellor

RE: A New Academic Year

With our 23 campuses back in session and classes underway, I want to tell you about what makes the California State University a remarkable university.

Recently the California State University recognized a group of its most extraordinary students. The 2009-10 recipients of the William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement have overcome significant adversities-from substance abuse and homelessness to language and cultural barriers-to achieve great success.

These students embody what the CSU stands for: the opportunity to improve through education. They also reflect the power of each of you to make a difference in the work you do each day. These extraordinary students point to pivotal moments in their lives when a teacher, lecturer or staff member took the time to listen, to encourage and to inspire them. These students found someone at the CSU who invited them in when many other doors had closed.

Their stories seem especially inspiring at the start of this academic year when the California State University is facing some of the greatest challenges in its history.

Together, we are addressing a $564 million cut to the CSU's budget, the largest reduction ever. The sheer size of our operating deficit has forced us make many difficult decisions that have affected our students, our faculty, our staff and all of our employees. Student fees have increased and enrollment is being reduced. Nearly all of our employees are working under furlough plans and have taken pay cuts.

I understand these are not easy circumstances and we are all being asked to do more with less. Let me tell you how much I appreciate how hard you are working to make things better.

During difficult times an organization can be limited by its constraints or powered by its people. I believe what distinguishes the California State University as one of the nation's greatest universities is the people who work here.

Every day throughout our campuses, you help open doors for our students through outstanding teaching, research and hands-on learning. You advise and care for students and help them navigate challenges from enrollment and financial aid to health care and housing. You are helping to develop the future engineers, artists, nurses and scientists who will lead California. I am proud of the work you do.

And I want others to share that pride. It is critical now, when the state's investment in higher education is diminishing, to talk about the work you do and the difference it is making. Share with your family members, your neighbors, your friends and your local leaders that the CSU provides the workforce that will make California a stronger, vibrant and more economically sound state. Carry the message forward that the CSU creates jobs and revenue for the state. You are our best ambassadors and advocates and together our voices can be strong and powerful.

I, too, will continue to make the case for investing in the CSU. Whether it is testifying before Congress to increase Pell Grant awards for our neediest students as I did this past spring, or meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan last March on sustaining funding for higher education, or frequently working the hallways of Sacramento, I will make the case every day for the California State University. And many members of the CSU community-our trustees, vice chancellors, presidents, foundation board members, alumni and students-are working with me to make sure our message is heard from Sacramento to Washington: Higher education is a long-term investment that benefits everyone.

I thank each of you for making the California State University the nation's best university.

Last Updated: October 19, 2009