Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Pullias Lecture at USC - 3/5/99

Thank you, Dean Hentschke, for that kind introduction.

To my distinguished colleagues, students, alumni, and friends - good afternoon. It is a great pleasure and honor to be here at the University of Southern California to deliver the 21st Earl V. Pullias Lecture in Higher Education.

It is also a humbling experience to follow such a long line of outstanding speakers, including my counterparts Richard Atkinson and Thomas Nussbaum, my predecessors Barry Munitz and Ann Reynolds, and so many other great educators like Steve Sample who have inspired me throughout my career. I hope that my remarks today on the need for K-16 cooperation will do honor to the memory of Professor Pullias.

Preparing for this lecture has been a fascinating process, as I sorted through my own thoughts and looked back on the presentations of previous lecturers. I enjoyed seeing how our educational environment has evolved over this time.

For instance, when my predecessor Barry Munitz spoke in 1994, we were only beginning to understand technology's potential applications. Now, just five years later, we are coming to realize the power of computers, the Internet, and interactive learning to transform our institutions - through the World Wide Web, distance education, the Western Governors' University and the California Virtual University.

I believe that this lecture series serves as an important historical record of the educational issues of the day. As this series continues, our successors can look back at this address and others as a way to mark their own progress in the future.

As I mentioned, I want to talk today about a K-16 education continuum. But I first want to share with you a story about education as a lifelong continuum.

When the renowned Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was hospitalized at age 92, he received a visit from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The president was surprised to see Justice Holmes reading a Greek primer.

"What are you doing?" President Roosevelt asked him.
"I am reading," replied Justice Holmes.
"I can see that," said the president. "But why a Greek primer?"
The justice looked at him and said, "Why, to improve my mind, of course."

This story serves as a good illustration of the fact that the education of the human mind never stops. It does not stop at grade 8, grade 12, or after four years of college.

And despite what we would like to think, it doesn't stop after 5 p.m. on Friday, or between the months of June and September. It is a continuum throughout a lifetime.

Recognizing this reality, our educators simply cannot work as separate entities or operations. Our public schools, community colleges, and universities need to work together as a seamless community, engaged to provide our citizens a lifetime's worth of learning.

When I first came to California a year ago, one of the qualities that attracted me was this state's strong culture of access. California's entire system of higher education - from its community colleges, to the CSU, to the UC, to the private colleges and universities - is all focused on the idea of universal access.

Yet it came as a big surprise to me that the systems were not as integrated with each other as they should be. For instance, no one wants to talk about a common calendar, and it is very difficult to transfer between institutions. It is almost as if all of our systems work in completely different industries. There is no real recognition of just how interconnected all of our work really is.

We are now facing an urgent need to change all of that.

For one thing, California desperately needs to improve its public schools - for the future of its children, its workforce, and its society as a whole. We can't afford to graduate students who do not possess the basic skills they need to function in the workplace, especially at a time when the jobs in the workforce increasingly require a college degree.

For another thing, California is looking out at the horizon of what we call "Tidal Wave II" or the "baby boom echo" - the vast increase in student enrollment that we expect in the next ten years. Based on California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) projections, between the years 1993 and 2005 there will be a 24.3 percent increase in enrollment demand for California public colleges and universities - amounting to 455,000 students. That will certainly provide a challenge to our culture of access.

For yet another reason, our policymakers and our public are beginning to turn a critical eye toward what educators do, and how well we do it. The key word here is accountability. We are soon going to be faced with a situation where we will be called upon to account for the duplications, omissions, and lack of communication among our systems of education.

In short, if our institutions are going to face the challenges of the 21st century and maintain California's strong, proud tradition of access, they will need to change not just their culture but also their behavior. We will need to work together as a community of educators who serve a continuum of educational needs. And we will need to figure out a way to do it soon.

I want to divide my remarks today into two parts: First, I want to talk about the CSU's plans to strengthen ties to our fellow educators. Next, I will talk about what all educators can do to improve accountability as well as our ability to offer Californians a lifetime of quality educational opportunities.

Changes at the California State University

At the California State University system, we are wholly interconnected with our state's other systems of education. Nearly 85 percent of our first-time freshmen are from California's public schools. For every first-time freshman, we admit two community college transfer students.

We train 60 percent of California's teachers, who then go back into the public schools. And we teach the older, nontraditional students, many of whom attend school, have children, and hold down regular jobs at the same time.

What all of this means is that it is impossible to extract our work from the work of our other partners in education. It means that the work that we do affects everyone else in this business. And it means that we can't simply look at our own work in isolation. It is for that reason that I believe the CSU's top priority right now is to help improve the public schools.

I. Improving our public schools

Helping the public schools is a first step toward improving our own institutions.

And after the news from yesterday, that California's fourth-graders ranked second to last in a national reading test, we should all be looking for ways to improve that situation. In other words, we need to start thinking K-16.

Our own Cal State Long Beach was honored last month to host U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley for his State of American Education address. As Secretary Riley said in his address, "We are well past the time when our institutions of higher education can remain aloof from the task of helping to rebuild America's public education system."

At the CSU, we see ourselves as a part of an ongoing cycle. The more high-quality teachers we train, the better prepared our students are when they come to the CSU from the public schools. And the less time we spend on remedial work at the CSU, the more time we can spend giving our students a high-quality college-level education.

Recognizing this situation, the CSU's primary focus will be on teacher training - and I will talk more in detail on that in a moment. But first I will mention some ways to strengthen our K-12 connections and help those schools improve.

  • Offering our resources - First, I believe that every public school could benefit from the support of its local university. Our educators can act as mentors, provide professional development opportunities, even share our library resources. Many of our public schools are in desperate need of a helping hand - and we are well-equipped to give those teachers and our future students that help.

    In addition, this is not just a project for the school of education.

    This is a university-wide responsibility, for which we expect participation from all sectors of our campuses.

  • Helping to ease the transition between K-12 and university - We know that there is often a lack of communication between our K-12 schools and our universities in terms of expectations. That's why I am urging our campuses to get involved earlier to help students understand what they need to work on for college admission. For instance, our faculty should meet and work with K-12 teachers to explain our standards and expectations.

    I also want to expand a CSU pilot program that allows students to take tests early in high school to determine their level of college preparation. We should offer diagnostic tests in the 9th and 10th grades; and then a placement exam in the 11th grade. Once again, the sooner they know how well they are prepared, the sooner they can get whatever help they need.

  • Creating more partnerships - We need to work together in an organized fashion with our local school districts. Once we build and solidify these relationships, both sides will understand each other's needs better.

II. Improve teacher training

Now, turning back to teacher training: As I mentioned, this is one of the most important roles we can take in improving our public schools. It is also one of the main things we can do to improve our relations with all educators - and smooth out that education continuum.

In order to make those improvements, we need to focus on two main objectives - training more teachers and training better teachers.

As for more teachers, we know that class size reduction, retiring teachers, and enrollment increases all contribute to that need. It is estimated that the state of California will need between 250,000 and 300,000 new teachers in the next ten years. Whereas the CSU trains 60 percent of California's teachers, private higher education trains 30 percent of those teachers. So we all have a responsibility to the state to focus on these programs. In addition, nearly 30,000 teachers in California are currently holding emergency permits. So we know we will need more teachers for our classrooms.

As for better teachers, new research shows how critical it is to have a high-quality teacher. The Education Trust last year released a report showing that the teacher is the most significant factor in student achievement. The report showed that in some cases, students who were slightly above average actually slipped behind when they had low-performance teachers.

We know that it is better to have one highly capable teacher for 30 children than it is to have an untrained teacher in front of a class of 15 students. So we will need to keep a focus on quality in teacher training.

In response to these needs, the California State University's Board of Trustees last year called for:

  • Increasing the number of annual recommendations for credentials from 12,000 to 15,000 by July 2000.

  • Developing curricula that involve students in teacher preparation earlier in their undergraduate experience - perhaps even streamlining the teacher preparation program to four-and-one-half or four years.

  • Developing common exit standards based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.

We will address that mandate with several initiatives, including:

  • Developing year-round operations by offering state supported programs during the summer, following the lead of our pilot programs at Bakersfield, Humboldt, and Sacramento.

  • Developing new approaches to teacher preparation through distance education or alternative certification programs.

  • Expanding access by offering night, weekend, and short-term intensive courses.

  • Increasing recruitment of teachers through our Center for Teaching Careers (CalTeach).

  • Expanding support for new teachers, through an e-mail or 800-number help line.

  • Offering a warranty for the teachers who graduate from our programs.

  • Expanding professional development opportunities for working teachers.

In addition, we have created a host of special initiatives to deal with this issue.

Those initiatives include:

Integrated Undergraduate Programs - Some students complete four years of college, enter a teaching program, and then find out they don't like teaching. We hope to minimize that problem by working teacher preparation earlier into our undergraduate program. We plan to integrate subject matter and teacher preparation, and offer more entry points for teaching and earlier field experiences.

CalStateTeach - Tens of thousands of people teach in our classrooms every day without being fully credentialed. That's why we have developed a program to help those dedicated teachers receive the full training they need. Our new initiative, called CalStateTeach, was developed with the award-winning British Open University. It is an 18-month primarily school-site-based education program for working teachers that will be run through five regional centers and will start in September.

Advertising Campaign - We have not begun to tap the potential of our many citizens who think they might like to teach. That's why in January, CalTeach launched its first-ever statewide paid television advertising campaign to recruit individuals into the teaching field. CalTeach also has an 800 number (1-888-CALTEACH) and a Web site (www.calteach.csulb.edu). As of February 28, the Web site had received just over 1.7 million hits. And in January the toll-free number logged a record number of calls - 3,280.

As you can see, we have set lofty goals and we have our work cut out for us. But we have made a firm commitment to these endeavors because we believe they are vital to the integration of our education systems and for the future of our state's children.

III. Willingness to change

The third idea that I want to talk about as it relates to the CSU is the need to change both attitudes and behavior.

In 1994, Barry Munitz told this group that from the American business perspective, the academic world is "the least likely to shut something down, turn something off, or to ask whether a program could be provided differently." I find those remarks ironic today, because unfortunately, those attitudes have not changed much on either side over the past five years.

Of course, I am not simply advocating change for the sake of change. But I do believe we can make important strides toward the future by trying some new strategies and challenging old attitudes.

For instance:

  • Our universities must commit to a culture of quality. Every person on every campus must be willing to ask how we can do things better than we did previously.

    Our nation lost a great educator last year in John Stanford, the superintendent of the Seattle school system. He was an inspirational leader who had exactly the kind of attitude that I am talking about.

    When people would ask him how he was doing, or how the schools were, he would say, "Perfect - and improving."

    I believe that is a motto all of our campuses need to adopt - that we will do our best all the time, and that we will always look for ways to do things even better. Plus there's a willingness in that attitude never to settle for second best. We can all benefit from that kind of improvement-oriented thinking.

  • Next, our faculty and administrators need to be willing to expand the role of technology on our campuses. Of course we'll need to do this anyway just to keep up with the rapid pace of change. But given our expected enrollment crunch, we are going to have to rely more than ever on technology in classroom teaching.

    For instance, I believe we can expand our enrollment by 15 percent by incorporating Internet-based courses into our curriculum.

    In order to do this, our faculty are going to have to change their attitudes about how they teach classes, with a shift from an emphasis on teaching to learning. In other words, instead of thinking about "How am I going to teach this material to 50 students?" they will need to ask themselves, "How can I empower 50 students to learn this material?"

  • Next, I would like to see a greater willingness to accept accountability through performance and merit pay.

    As many of you know, the CSU is still trying to negotiate a contract agreement for our faculty. I know that the faculty union has been reluctant to expand pay for performance. And yet it's going to take this kind of change to move to the next level of quality. Such an arrangement could make a huge difference for our universities over the next four to five years.

  • Finally, as I mentioned earlier, our campuses need to move to year-round operations. This seems so logical to me, in fact, that I was very surprised when I first came to California that it hadn't been done already. If we institute year-round operations, it is estimated that we can increase our productivity by one-third.

    From a resource perspective, it makes the most sense for us to maximize the use of our existing facilities.

    And from an enrollment perspective, we won't have much choice in a few years but to stagger schedules and have students coming in year-round.

    Incidentally, when I arrived in California, I was also surprised to learn that our state did not fully fund summer courses for students. Hopefully our legislature will change that shortly. 

Changes Across California's Educational Systems

I want to talk next about the larger picture - about the changes that I would like to see happen across our state's educational systems in order to better integrate our work.

I. Better communication/ articulation across the systems

First, to continue a theme I mentioned in the beginning, I believe we need to have better communication and articulation across all of our systems.

This idea was reinforced in a report released last fall by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The report, titled, "The Challenges Facing California Higher Education: A Memorandum to the Next Governor of California," reviewed four major policy proposals for higher education in California. It concluded: 

"Several informal collaborations exist, but K-12 education largely operates in a different world that higher education. Within higher education itself, the three public systems currently function as independent silos. The reality is that the financial, structural, and policy divisions separating K-12 from higher education no longer make sense. Nor do similar divisions separating those public colleges and universities that are in close geographic proximity to each other."

I believe that California has a great and forward-thinking Master Plan. The plan works because it differentiates between the missions of the university systems. California is big enough to afford two world-class systems of public higher education, one that supports research and one that supports teaching.

Yet I believe that we need to find a way to work within the context of the Master Plan to bridge the gaps between our systems - not to water down their missions, but to strengthen them through communication and mutual support.

Some of those improvements across systems would include:

  • Common course numbering.

  • Common academic schedules.

  • Easing transferability between institutions, so that all courses count.

  • Opening doors for advanced work - such as 11th graders taking more college-level courses.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of building bridges between our systems.

Once we build these links, we will be able to close the "gaps" in our system, such as the need for remedial education.

II. More Accountability

Next, I would ask all of our respective systems to be more accountable to each other, and to the public at large. For instance, our K-12 schools should be more accountable in reducing the need for remedial education.

I have urged schools to teach reading all the way through 12th grade, requiring it throughout the curriculum. I have also urged them to teach "real math" - not "almost math" - such as algebra and geometry as early as 7th or 8th grade.

I would ask our universities to be more accountable in communicating and assisting K-12 students with the application and requirement process. Once again, the earlier the student knows that he or she has an area of academic weakness, the sooner we can help them work through that weakness. This approach will also help us improve our own retention and graduation rates.

Incidentally, the CSU and the University of California system are currently working together to align our freshman subject requirements. By doing so, we hope to make the admissions process easier for prospective students to understand.

In addition, our teacher-training institutions must be accountable to the K-12 schools that they serve. I am very pleased that one of our campuses, Cal State Long Beach, has announced that it will begin offering a warranty for its teacher education graduates.

This warranty shows a strong university commitment to accountability for its product. It also shows a strong willingness to communicate and work with our K-12 partners. By setting up this kind of relationship, we can determine the success of our recent graduates, and we can determine what skills need to be reinforced in our teacher preparation programs.

Along the same lines, I would urge our universities to be more accountable to the greater community, and to the employers who will hire our graduates. We should encourage strong communications between universities and businesses so that we can better understand what it is they need from our graduates.

Once again, we cannot forget that we are part of an education continuum that spans a lifetime. Just as the work of the educators before us affects what it is that we need to do, so does our work affect those who depend on our graduates.

III. Willingness to Change

Finally, I would urge all educators to adopt a willingness to change old habits.

  • First, we must be willing to look at changes within the institution. For instance, we need to build more flexibility and accountability into our personnel practices. While I am a strong supporter of tenure, I believe that all of our universities stand to benefit from a strong post-tenure review program.

  • We must also be willing to revisit our preconceived notions about summertime. Our universities are rapidly coming to a point where our resources and our state finances will be stretched to the limit. The first step in dealing with that kind of pressure is to ensure that we are making full use of all of our resources.

    If we need to alleviate some of the enrollment pressure by having students take courses year-round, that means we will have to teach year-round.

    As educators, we understand that learning doesn't stop between the months of May and September - so we will need to adjust our teaching schedules to reflect that reality.

  • Finally, we should all become accustomed to posing the question, "How can we do what we do even better?" The educational arena is becoming increasingly competitive - and if we don't do our job well, someone else will.

    It could be the National University or the University of Phoenix - or yet another non-traditional or for-profit university. So it's important that we take stock of what we are doing and maintain that constant drive toward self-improvement.

To sum up, we as educators have a very important job ahead. We need to address the vast educational needs of our growing student population. We need to be accountable to our public. And we need to work more closely together so that we can offer our citizens a lifetime's worth of education.

When the great California educator Clark Kerr spoke in a recent interview about the future of higher education, he talked about the need for what he called an "integrated university."

He said that while universities reach out in many ways, society is at the same time moving in on the university. "Higher education now faces the challenge of being less of an independent force and being integrated into more elements of society than ever before," he said.

These words inspire us to find new ways to connect, such as joint doctoral programs or public/private partnerships.

In this global age, where news and information are transmitted around the world in a matter of seconds, where technology is updated and improved every day, and where manual labor is being replaced by computers, there will be an increasing need for an educated populace.

Just as Clark Kerr said, education will need to draw closer to its constituents throughout society in order to understand and address a variety of growing needs.

As California educators, we owe our citizens accountability and high quality for everything we do. We owe it to our citizens to talk amongst ourselves and work together for the improvement of our entire educational system.

I want to close by sharing two experiences that I had as chancellor this year that sum up for me the importance of everything we as educators do in California.

The first experience was at Cal State Los Angeles, when I attended graduation ceremonies last year. When the president called up the honors graduates, three young women came up - two African American and one Latina.

They had tears falling down their faces, and each of them was holding a child. Later the celebrations continued long through the day - vibrant family celebrations, representing many generations. I was impressed by the commitment and determination that each of these graduates had shown to get this far, as well as the sheer joy that each family shared for such a momentous achievement.

The next experience occurred at our new CSU Channel Islands campus, during a ceremony in which the state officially transferred the land to the CSU. It was a formal ceremony, with seats set up on the lawn, a large podium, and all sorts of local leaders. Throughout the ceremony a man, who seemed to stand out from the rest of the crowd because of his old work clothes and baseball cap, stood to the side behind a clump of trees.

He came up to me afterwards and explained that he was a worker at a farm down the road. Although he had never had a chance to attend college, he was determined that his son would attend this new campus. So he asked me to sign the program for his son, as a representation of the dreams and the hopes in store for him.

I think both of these stories say a great deal about what education in California can and should be. It should be a place where a young working mother or the son of a farm worker can find the doors of opportunity open. It should be a place where needs are met, goals are attained and dreams are realized.

I believe that our society has many battles ahead, but I believe that those battles are winnable. We must all do our part to continue California's legacy of providing high-quality, accessible, affordable education for its citizens into the 21st century.

Our victory will occur in the classrooms of California.

Thank you very much.


Back to speeches