Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
American Council on Education (ACE) Conference
Policy and Practice Forum
“A Conversation with Charles B. Reed”
Monday, February 11, 2008
San Diego CA

Thank you, Claire (Van Ummersen, ACE vice president).

I know this is a new format for ACE and you want it to be perfect, but nothing or no one is perfect – just ask the New England Patriots…But we will all do our best to make it an interesting discussion.

I start off with football, first because I love the college game, and second because we can all learn about teamwork from football.

And teamwork is important because we are at a conference put on by an organization that helps pull all of us together as a team on issues important to higher education.

Let me give you my thoughts on what is important today, and what we should be concerned about in the future.

And let’s have a dialogue about them because I am sure there are issues out there that are of major concern that I may be leaving out.

Number one: Serving the underserved student.

I wrote a long piece about this for the November issue of Change magazine, and it is still true.

What I have learned in nearly 10 years as California State University Chancellor is that we must reach students from traditionally underserved populations, get them eligible and into college and then get them graduated.

  • They are in the majority in California
  • Soon will be a majority population in this country
  • Many are the first in their families to attend college
  • California is at where most other universities in this country will be in 15 years
  • CSU is nearly 56 percent students of color – highest in the

If we don’t serve those students:

  1. Our universities will become obsolete
  2. Our workforce will suffer
  3. And our businesses, communities and economy will pay the price.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education estimates that 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. It is already down $15,000 in California.

Universities must be more aggressive with outreach:

  • We can’t wait for students to come to us
  • The CSU will go out again to African American churches in the LA and Bay Areas later this month to talk about how to go to college. We will reach 80,000 at these “Super Sunday” events
  • We also meet regularly with our Latino communities, especially parents through the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE)
  • We hold similar meetings with our Native American and Asian communities
  • We give all these groups our “How to Get to College” posters (1.3 million this past year) in 5 different languages
  • We also are working hard with our veterans in our “Troops to College” program. Most of these veterans are also from underserved populations
  • We need to go into the communities to reach students
  • We must go out and find students who might not speak English as a first language and whose parents or grandparents may never have been to a college campus
  • We must help these young people and their parents prepare for college, including applying for financial aid
  • We have to work to help improve the public schools, since that is where most of the students who attend our campuses come from. If the public schools get better, then we get better
  • Educating the underserved means a better life and health for recipients, and a better economy and quality of life for our entire country.

Number two: Re-investing in higher education in the USA.

California is facing a $14.5 billion state deficit – which is probably higher than the budgets of many other states.

That means that the CSU could be hit with a 10 percent budget cut -- $312 million. We are going to the Legislature to advocate for that $312 million, plus another $73 million to buy out a 10 percent fee increase –for a total of $386 million.

This cut means:

  1. 10,000 fewer students next year…which is unacceptable. This affects access.
  2. A fee increase will hurt many of our students. This is an affordability problem.
  3. Puts at risk our ability to provide quality education for the nearly 450,000 students already enrolled.

I know there are other states out there that are suffering similar proportional cuts. We cannot keep letting this happen.

Higher education is too low a priority. We are an investment, not an expense, and we need to explain this better.

We need to rise up – especially in this political year – and make our voices heard about what we do for our states and nation. We need to build coalitions with business, labor and others and go to editorial boards and write opinion pieces.

If we don’t tell people – and tell them over and over again, they will not hear us about all the other “noise” that is going on.

Number three – Accountability and Proving Higher Education’s impact.

This involves what colleges and universities do for their communities and states.

  • For every $1 that California invests in the CSU, we return $4.41
  • We have a $14 billion dollar annual impact on our state
  • 250,000 jobs are impacted by the CSU campuses
  • I am certain it is similar in other states

But we are more than economic – colleges and universities are the intellectual, cultural athletic and social hubs of their communities.

If universities were to “disappear” from these communities, they would lose their vibrancy. We cannot let universities decay.

We need to continually remind people that higher education is an investment, not an expenditure.

We used to be thought of as an investment:

  • The state would invest in higher education knowing that it would pay off down the line
  • It doesn’t happen enough anymore, at least not in California, and probably not in your states either.

To quote an editorial in the February 6, 2008, Fresno Bee: "We’ve let every part of our state decay – including higher education – and the price for that neglect is coming due"

People need to realize:

  • What is at risk?
  • What is the future for our communities, states and country?
  • Do we want to be educated or illiterate?
  • Do we want more prisons or schools? We don’t want first-class prisons and second-class universities.

We also need to be more accountable to the public. What NASULGC (National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges) and AASCU (American Association of State Colleges and Universities) have done by developing the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) is a good start.

It will help us all show the public that we are part of the “public good.”

For us to go to the public for more support, they must know that we are accountable to them for their tax dollars.

  • Again, we have to keep telling them what we are doing in this effort.
  • We have to be transparent.

The CSU has added to the VSA by having each of our 23 campuses develop a web-based template called the “College Portrait” that is designed to specifically communicate accountability data to the public.

It will be in plain English, and we think it will help explain what we do.

Number four – workforce development.

Universities provide not only the economic backbone of a state, but they provide the workforce needed for continuing that economic growth.

The CSU is California’s economic engine –we graduate 96,000 students into the state’s workforce every year.

We play a major role in the state’s workforce in the areas of:

  1. Nursing
  2. Teaching
  3. Agriculture
  4. Business
  5. Public administration
  6. Engineering
  7. Information technology
  8. Hotel/Restaurant/Entertainment
  9. Biotechnology
  10. Criminal justice

I am certain that your universities do the same for your communities

But how many people really know what you do? Do they know that:

  1. Better educated citizens contribute more to their states
  2. People now need a college degree for nearly all jobs
  3. College graduates earn a million dollars more in a lifetime than high school graduates
  4. And they spend that money in their states

We need to continually point out to elected officials and others what we do for their states:

  • If we do not get sufficient funding we will not be able to provide this workforce.
  • If we do not reach out to our students of color and get them into college, we won’t be educating the future workforce

Number five: Access and Affordability.

The Public Policy Institute of California did its first-ever survey of just higher education in October 2007.

Higher education received high marks:

  • Two-thirds (66 percent) said public higher education is doing an excellent or good job
  • Three-fourths (76 percent) said the state’s colleges are “very important” to California’s future.

However, asked to name the most challenging issues, respondents said:

  • 84 percent said affording college is a problem for today’s students
  • 61 percent said college is outpacing other costs.

The relationship between state support and our fees and tuition is the key.

  • Many states are decreasing their support, which means that to continue to provide quality, we have to increase fees
  • Federal policies also play a role here, especially with student financial aid.
  • If we are not sufficiently funded, then we cannot provide access and we cannot be affordable
  • It is that simple.

Number six: Technology, Sustainability and the World.

From technology we have already seen an:

  1. Impact on our students
  2. Impact on pedagogy, our teaching methods
  3. Impact on our way of doing business

We can expect to see much more rapidly – things move fast in the tech world. Look what has been developed in emergency communications since the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

We need to keep up not only with our students, but all those young people in our K-12 schools – they probably already know more than any of us in this room.

As far as sustainability, we need to start thinking “green” and also think about the major issues of global warming that affects all of us. Our students, and I am sure yours too, are already so active in these areas.

We also need to think about the bigger world out there, and what other countries are doing those so impacts us, such as China and the Asian world.

Let me stop here so we can hear from you about some of the issues I have mentioned, or you can add new items to the list.

Thank you for listening.

Let me turn it back to Claire.