Chancellor's Recent Speeches
Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Thank you, Ron (Loveridge, Mayor of Riverside).
Universities and cities have a lot in common – we both want the money due us from the state … But if you look at the state budget that was just signed, you don’t see much coming to either of us…
Let me start by saying that the California State University Chancellor’s Office and our Cal State Long Beach campus get along well with the City of Long Beach and its Mayor, Bob Foster, who is here today.
Bob is an alumnus of our San José campus and served nine years as a member of the CSU Board of Trustees, where he was chair of our collective bargaining committee.
That was a tough job of rough-and-tumble politics – it prepared him to live the easier life of a mayor …
Seriously, I know your jobs as mayors and city managers are difficult, especially in these tough budget times.
I can look at it from both sides – (1) as a university system head, and (2) in one of my previous jobs as chief of staff to the governor of Florida.
There’s politics in both jobs, and we fight for more funds for our students, while you fight for your residents.
I want to talk about the relationships we currently have and hear from you about the opportunity for more partnerships.
But before I do that, let me just give you a few facts about the California State University that you might not know:
So that is who the CSU is. Let me now talk about the relationships we have with our cities.
Our university system has had pretty good relationships with the cities where our 23 campuses are located up and down this state.
And unless you count at our Humboldt campus, we haven’t yet had to deal with too many tree sitters, like the University of California campuses in Berkeley and Santa Cruz…
Of course there have been some bumps in the road – maybe one or two of our students occasionally get out of line – but for the most part, I believe that we have forged some strong partnerships with cities where our campuses are located.
Let me give you a couple of examples of partnerships. Then let’s talk about the opportunity to create more of them:
We also work with counties. Our Channel Islands campus just acquired 369 acres from the County of Ventura. The campus will preserve portions of the site as open space and wildlife habitat, while providing community access and programs for students and faculty in biology, geography and environmental studies.
I believe that these kinds of opportunities came about because at the core of what we both do is try to serve our constituents better – we at the university serve students, and you serve your residents.
Since I because Chancellor more than 10 years ago, I have a four-word rule when I need to get focused on an issue. That rule is: The student comes first. The university is not about serving “The Institution.” We’re here for students – we need to serve students.
When I deal with an issue with a city or anyone and the discussions get bogged down, I ask myself these questions:
Why are we really here? Who do we serve? How do we get from point “A” to point “B” in a way that is best for our students and for student learning?
I would guess that you do the same thing when you think about issues that affect your communities – you try to figure out what is best for your residents.
Sometimes what is best for students and for residents is the same thing, like the examples I cited above.
Sometimes it takes more time until we can reach agreement, but we must, especially in these fiscally challenged times. I don’t think either of us wants to go to court and spend money on our attorneys. It is best to work things out, if we can.
CEQA and Marina decision
I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but I know there will probably be a question, so let me talk a little about the 2006 California Supreme Court Marina decision.
As you know, it dealt with Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), the requirement for off-site mitigation of capital projects and what infrastructure improvements are to be borne by the universities and local governments.
We have modified our procedures consistent with the court ruling and established some “fair share” guidelines.
The experience has been mixed and some issues are unclear. Our approach is that we are in this together so let’s work it out together. It serves no one to have these lawsuits.
We have had some good experiences. For example, we worked well with the city of Long Beach over lights and street improvements on a major entry into the campus.
We also finalized a good agreement with the city and county of San Francisco for fair share mitigation related to transit improvements based on future campus trip generation and a ridership analysis.
This is a complicated decision. It will be with us for a long time, especially as we both work with diminished budgets. But as long as we continue to have honest discussions and negotiate in good faith, I believe we can work most issues out.
I have told you about some of our successful partnerships. There are certainly more out there.
So, how we can work together better, how we can advocate for our students and our residents better with Sacramento?
A question for you: Where could you use our help?
We could really use your help on influencing the Legislature and businesses to support our universities.
Let me end with a few thoughts from an article I read two Sundays ago by your closing speaker, author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
My favorite kinds of books are biographies and she has written some good ones.
In the article in Sunday’s Parade magazine, “The Secrets of America’s Great Presidents,” she listed ten traits of good presidents, using examples from Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
Many of those attributes apply to how universities and cities work together, such as (1) having a willingness to change; (2) an ability to learn from errors; (3) the courage to stay strong; (4) having a moral compass and (5) a gift for inspiring others.
If we think about those when we work together we will do well for our students and our residents.
Thank you. I would be happy to take a few questions.