Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed
Chancellor, California State University
CSU Advancement Academy Conference
Long Beach, CA
April 28, 2003

Thank you, Debra (Farar). And a special thanks to Louis (Caldera) and his staff for all the work they did to organize this successful conference.

I want to thank all of you for being here – trustees, presidents, and development staff – and especially our deans, provosts, and Bautzer faculty members. We have a great story to tell and all of you can help us tell that story. So thank you for taking the time to come here today.

I have a short story to share with you this afternoon, and I think you're all going to fall over in shock when you hear that it's not about football. It's about opera.

The great opera singer Beverly Sills tells a true story about when she used to run the New York City Opera. One evening she attended a formal dinner where she was seated next to a very wealthy CEO. She took the opportunity to ask him for a major gift to the opera. She was thinking big, so she asked him for a million bucks.

The CEO wasn't known to be a big fan of the arts, but he did have a good sense of humor. So he said to her, "If I give you the money, do I have to go to the opera?"

And she said, "Of course you have to go!"

He said: "How about this: I'll give you a million dollars if I don't have to go. But I'll only give you $900,000 if I have to show up."

She told him she would take the $900,000 and would see him at the next performance.

A few days after that, she escorted the CEO and his wife to the opera and they were treated to a spectacular show.

A week or so later, she was invited to a dinner party at the CEO's home. Every guest got a little trinket on his or her plate, except for Beverly Sills. When she asked him why she didn't get anything, he grumbled, "Look under your damn plate."

And there was a check for the remaining $100,000.

What Beverly Sills did was more than simply ask for money. She attached meaning to what the money stood for.

Her story also illustrates a larger truth about fundraising: It's not about finding ways to talk people into giving you money. It's about helping them understand the long-term significance of their contributions. That is what helps build a culture of giving.

At the CSU, we have it a little bit easier. We don't have to convince anyone to become a fan of the opera. But the theory still holds true: We need to help people see what the CSU does for this state and how a strong educational system will benefit all of us.

For instance, we often say that the CSU is "Working for California." What do we mean when we say that?

  • The CSU makes higher education accessible and affordable.

  • That means more students are able to pursue a college education.

  • That means more students graduate with the high level of knowledge and training that they need to succeed in the 21st century workforce.

  • That means more employers have the qualified workers that they need to become world competitors.

  • And that means California's economy and communities grow stronger.

If our supporters truly understand all of these things that the CSU does for the state of California, they will be with us for the long term.

Their contributions help us establish a "margin of excellence." Those contributions help fund facilities, professorships, equipment, academic programs, research, and scholarships. They also help us increase our endowment for future operating flexibility.

We can be very proud of our past accomplishments in fundraising. In only ten years, we have seen private giving increase from less than $100 million per year to over a quarter-billion in our last fiscal year. Since 1993, our campuses have raised over $2 billion in private support.

I am very grateful to all of you who helped us reach those record numbers.

Now we have a new challenge around the corner with the state's current budget crisis.

This budget crisis means that we will have to continue to work harder and do more in advancement than ever before. We will need to reach out in directions that we might not have even contemplated ten years ago.

But I have great confidence that we will succeed. That's because we have outstanding people and we have an incredible story to tell.

Thank you again for coming here to learn more about advancement. I hope that this conference helps you learn more, meet more of your colleagues, and become more inspired to share the CSU story.

Thank you very much.


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