Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Financial Officers Association Conference
Santa Barbara, CA
4/9/01

Good morning, and thank you, Becka (Paulsen) for that welcome.

I want to begin by thanking you for all that you do for the California State University. I know that the reason our university system keeps moving along, day in and day out, is because of the work that you do.

Some people say that academics are the heart of the university. That may be true. But if that's the case, then our financial operations represent the bones and the muscles - the support structures - that enable us to carry out our academic mission.

Imagine a body with out bones or muscles. That's pretty much what our university would look like if it weren't for all of you. So thank you for holding us together, helping us stay strong, and keeping this university in motion. With your careful budgeting, accounting, and auditing, you help us maintain our integrity and our reputation for accountability.

I know that you are scheduled to hear from many other speakers about issues that you face on a day-to-day basis. So I thought I would talk about the "big picture" at the CSU - where we are going, and how we need to change to meet the demands of the new century.

Institutional Change

First, let me begin with a few words on institutional change. In the 21st century, practically nothing is certain except for change. And with rapid technological developments and real-time communications, change is happening at lightning speed.

The management consultant Peter Drucker says that in the past, a craftsman who had learned a trade by age 18 or 19 essentially knew everything he would ever need to know during his lifetime. But in our fast-paced technology-based society, just about every worker will have to acquire new knowledge every four or five years or become obsolete.

At a university, we're in the knowledge business. So this should be good news. But making changes in the way we operate our institutions can be very difficult. That's because universities have such respect for long-standing traditions.

Still, it's becoming increasingly clear that we're going to have to adapt if we want to survive. I'm talking about changes like:

  • Keeping up with technological developments to improve university administration and to provide relevant educational experiences for our students;

  • Building more partnerships within our communities;

  • Recognizing that the success of our university depends on the success of the K-12 system, and reaching out to help our K-12 counterparts. We are "tied at the hip" to public K-12 schools. In fact, 98 percent of our students come from the public schools. So we need to reach out and help them.

  • Building new outreach efforts and support systems that reflect our state's increasingly diverse student population;

  • Realizing the need to work as a team rather than as disconnected entities.

Some of these changes, like keeping up with technological developments, will require more money. Some of these changes will require a change in mindset and a change in focus. But all of these changes will require recognition that we are a part of a larger society that is increasingly interconnected.

We cannot go back to the old idea of the "ivory tower" that is up on a hill above the rest of society. We are an inherent part of that society, and we have a responsibility to play an active role.

Access at the California State University

Perhaps the best illustration of the need for change is the increased demand for access to our universities.

The CSU's mission is to provide all eligible California students with access to an affordable, high-quality baccalaureate education. That's a great mission. It's a mission we can be proud of. And it's a mission that makes us unique. Our mission puts the focus on teaching and serving students. In fact, we are the best at what we do.

But in the past few years, the CSU has faced a major challenge in carrying out that mission: the enrollment surge known as Tidal Wave II.

The CSU's enrollment has grown by about 50,000 students over the past six years. Since I arrived at the CSU three years ago, our student population has grown by about 30,000 students. Our current student population is about 370,000. Some projections show that we might reach nearly 500,000 students by 2010.

Our challenge is to serve these new students, and to serve them with the same high quality that they have come to expect from the CSU.

That's why we've had to make some changes. We've taken on several short-term and long-term efforts to expand and improve our ability to serve. Those efforts include:

Year-Round Operations

Historically, the state has not funded summer courses at most CSU campuses. That doesn't make sense to me. Why should a student pay two or three times more to take History 101 during the summertime?

Right now, five campuses offer state-supported summer courses. Under our current plans, 10 more campuses will convert to state support this year.

We'll convert another six campuses in summer 2002.

It's important to have this option available for our students, many of whom are older or work regular jobs. Offering state-supported sessions also frees up classroom space during the regular school year and traditional course times.

Facilities Usage

We're continuing to reach out to more students by using off-campus facilities. In the past two years, we have expanded operations at off-campus centers at Channel Islands and Coachella Valley.

We've also expanded joint use of facilities with community colleges. This allows us to increase access for place-bound students and improve articulation.

Flexible Scheduling

We're also developing more flexible scheduling. Many of our students are not available to take courses from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. If we make more evening and weekend courses available, we're serving more students and freeing up more classroom space during the traditional course times.

Non-traditional scheduling strategies like short-term intensive courses have the same kind of advantage.

We're also looking at ways to use technology. With mixed-mode methodology, a course may be held in the classroom one day, on video another day, on CD-ROM another day. Using these new technologies, we don't have to be limited to just one scheduling plan.

Some of you may have heard of our CalStateTEACH program. This allows elementary school teachers to earn their full credentials while continuing to work. We use a mix of distance technology and one-on-one mentoring so that these teachers can get the most out of the program without quitting their regular jobs.

CMS

We also are looking to improve technology throughout the CSU.

CETI is dead. Instead, we are now installing a modern information management system for finance, human resources, and student services.

We needed to do this because our current systems are over 25 years old. A 25-year-old system does not serve our students or our employees well. A common system will also allow our campuses to work together more effectively.

Semester Calendar

I have asked the quarter-system campuses in the CSU to evaluate converting to the semester system. There are several benefits to having us all on the semester system:

Improved access: Our campuses would be fully aligned with California's community colleges and high schools, which are nearly all on semester calendars.

Cost savings: Semester calendars are less costly from an administrative standpoint. Semester campuses have one less cycle for admissions, registration, graduation, etc.

Instructional benefits: Semester calendars require fewer administrative operations that are tied to the start and close of an academic term.

This means that more time can be devoted to instruction rather than "housekeeping."

Currently six CSU campuses operate on quarter calendars (Cal Poly SLO, Los Angeles, Hayward, Cal Poly Pomona, San Bernardino, and Bakersfield); and CSU Stanislaus is on a non-traditional semester calendar.

We have asked these seven presidents, in consultation with their academic senates, to evaluate this conversion. For the campuses that choose to convert within the next two to three years, the CSU is prepared to provide the necessary transition support using funds from this year's budget.

Meeting Increased Budgetary Needs

Finally, the multi-billion dollar question is, how do we pay for all of these changes?

Gov. Davis and our state legislators have been extremely good to the CSU. Over the last three years, the CSU's general fund budget has increased by about $843 million - the largest three-year increase since the mid-1980s.

For 2001/2002, Gov. Davis has proposed a budget of $267.9 million, a 12 percent increase. It would bring the CSU's operating budget to about $3.5 billion, the largest budget ever for the CSU.

But there is one potential complication this year - the California energy crisis. We have asked for an additional $41.1 million to compensate for increased natural gas prices, for both this year and next year. Still, we don't know what other effects this energy crisis might have on our budget.

In mid-May, the governor submits a revised budget request known as the "May Revision" or "May Revise," which is based on the April forecast of state revenues. We will know more about any potential changes to our budget when the May Revise comes out.

In the meantime, we are continuing to move forward with our long-term plan for the university, which is to continue to carry out our mission in spite of the challenges that come our way.

We will continue to look for new ways to increase access, build partnerships, and work like a team. And we will continue to be a student-centered and student-focused operation.

We will face some difficult challenges, but these challenges are all a part of the larger picture of change that everyone in our society will face in the 21st century.

I am looking forward to those challenges, and I hope you are too.

Thank you again for all that you do to make the CSU an outstanding institution.


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