Chancellor's Recent Speeches
Advancement Academy Conference 2000
Good morning, and thank you for joining us for this important conference.
I've been asked to talk about our conference theme, "Building A CSU Legacy."
This morning the L.A. Times ran a story about Bill Clinton's legacy. It said that his foreign policy legacy may be determined more by how he handles crises in the Middle East during his last three months in office than by anything he's accomplished over the previous seven years. That will be incredibly tough for him, because that's not the way great legacies are built.
On the other hand, I believe that the CSU is capable of building an important legacy. But like Bill Clinton, we can't build a legacy on demand. And we can't build a legacy if our only purpose is to build one.
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was first elected president, he wasn't thinking about building a legacy. He just wanted to get the country out of the Great Depression. But when he launched the New Deal, he created Social Security because he believed passionately that the federal government should support the elderly and the disabled. The Social Security program remains one of FDR's great legacies.
When Bill Gates first started out, he was just a kid who enjoyed playing with computers.
But he honestly believed that the personal computer would be an important tool for just about everyone. So he started building software for personal computers, and he created Microsoft. In the process, he built a technological legacy.
When Rosa Parks got on that famous bus ride, she didn't set out to change history. As she said at one point, "I did not get on the bus to get arrested -- I got on the bus to go home."
But she refused to give up her seat, stuck to her principles, and ultimately created an important civil rights legacy.
And then there's Bill Clinton. He was planning his legacy from the first day he took office. Actually, he was planning it from before he took office. Granted, he helped a lot of people. But what kind of legacy will he leave behind? Right now, it won't be a particularly noble one.
A legacy has to come from the heart and the spirit.
To build a legacy, you have to have clear goals and a focused agenda.
You have to do something important.
You have to do something that no one else has done.
You have to have the commitment to see it through.
You have to create something that is embraced, institutionalized, and sustained.
You have to leave behind something larger than life.
And whatever you do, you have to do it because you believe in it, not because you want to leave a legacy.
I believe that the CSU has the potential to build an important legacy. That's because we have a great mission. Our mission is to provide access to educational excellence for California's students.
We serve students who are the first in their families to go to college.
We serve students who thought they could never afford to go to college.
We serve young people, mid-career adults, and older people who never had a chance at education - or who need a second chance.
I think that's a great mission. It's something we can pursue with passion and intensity. With that kind of mission, we are unified behind a common, noble purpose.
So - how can we build our legacy?
First, we need to help people better understand what our mission is and how we carry it out every day.
We need to reach out and create more partnerships with educators, community groups, and businesses.
We need to help improve the public schools of California.
We need to celebrate our diversity as a system. The 23 different and distinctive campuses of the CSU are our strength.
We also need to look at those things that prevent us from building a strong legacy.
For instance - no institution ever built a legacy by comparing itself to someone else. We do something that no one else does. We have to celebrate that without comparing ourselves to anyone. We don't have to compare ourselves to the University of California. We stand on our own.
Also, we have too much negativity in our system. We spend too much time arguing and fussing when we could be focusing on enhancing teaching and scholarship. We have overdone our adversarial politics. There is too much "we" and "they" in our system. It's dysfunctional.
If we are negative about ourselves, it's going to be much harder to get our job done. It will be more difficult to get the word out about all of the good things that we do. It will be even harder to secure the external support we need.
So how do we fix that?
We need to promote greater collegiality within our system. We need to be positive about what we are doing and why we are doing it. We need to build on the qualities that support our mission.
And last - we can't all be working in a hundred different directions.
We have a common purpose that brings us all together. So we must think of ourselves as family and work together as a team.
I know that our advancement offices have a great deal to be proud of. I want to take just a moment to recognize and applaud your efforts:
I want to congratulate all of you for the important work you are doing for the CSU. The advancement arm has been the most positive part of our family.
I believe that we are building something important in California. We are laying a foundation that will last longer than our own lifetimes.
We are uniting - purposefully and passionately - behind the CSU mission.
That's my dream for the CSU. That's how I hope we will carry out our mission.
I want to close with a short story about building something important.
A man was walking by a construction site with dozens of workers. He went up to one worker and asked him, "What are you working on?"
The worker said, "I'm laying bricks."
Then the man went up to another worker and asked him, "What are you working on?"
And the second worker said to him, "I'm building a great cathedral."
I think that the second worker knew what it takes to create a legacy. It takes a vision and a sense of purpose.
Our vision should guide all of our day-to-day operations. Our vision should help us see the larger purpose of why we are here and what the CSU is trying to do. I am convinced that if we hold that vision clearly, we can build a strong CSU legacy.
I look forward to building that future with you - as a family, and as a team.
Thank you very much for the all of the work that you do for the CSU.
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