Chancellor, California State University
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting
January 28, 2009
Thank you, Chair Bleich.
Welcome Trustee (Henry) Mendoza for the second time to this board. We look forward to your financial skills during this budget crisis.
As Chair Bleich said, the budget is affecting everything we do. We are in overdrive mode, going from crisis to crisis to crisis. We have shut down all our state-funded construction projects; some 13,000-15,000 people are now out of work. We had bad news then got better news (from the state) about financial aid. We first thought we had to handle that a different way, but we are going to cover financial aid for our students. We were told there was no cash to do that, but now we know we have 85 percent of the cash, so we will figure this all out for our students.
You know all the horrible parts of this budget – Jeff (Bleich) talked about that just now and we discussed it in the Finance Committee yesterday. You’ve heard me say this before: California is at a crossroads. Well, we are no longer at a crossroads. We are right up to the very edge of the cliff, and will have to do a 180 (turn) and decide which way to go if we are to recover. When I say a 180 turn, I mean we have to turn around and look and see what kind of California do we want; because with that cliff there, if we go off, this could become a third-world country. (California is located) not very far away from a third-world country, where a lot of students don’t go to college…and they have some of the largest problems in the world there.
So that is what we’re facing. I have advocated recently that I would like to see our campuses hold a series of conversations and town hall meetings to talk about what kind of California do we want. We need to have the citizens, parents and business leaders be a part of that conversation to take a look at where California is now, and what kind of California do we want.
Now I know this: California is sick. It doesn’t have a cold anymore …it has moved from pneumonia to something else. If it is going to get well, we need to take our medicine, take our cuts. It won’t taste good, but we have to take it. If you are going to have a world class set of universities, then you have to pay for it. Now, that’s the only way I know to get there.
Fifty years ago, this state had a different view of the future and what they wanted it to be. CSU is a part of the success of this state.
We must continue to support the Alliance for the CSU. We have to tell our story, our particular story over and over and over again. We have to go beyond that, though; we have to enlist everyone in this effort. We cannot just talk about ourselves, but we have to talk to our neighbors about what is at risk and where this state is going. Our neighbors and community partners have to join in our efforts.
The CSU supplies the workforce in the industries that make this state economically powerful – the engineers, computer scientists, teachers, nurses, agricultural specialists, and those in the entertainment and hospitality fields.
Students are first, and we must provide the best education that we can. We cannot stop our outreach efforts to the state’s future workforce. We must provide as much access as we can. Yesterday we heard a report about the public schools. I am proud of our partnership with the public schools, and we will continue to help close the achievement gap. The CSU is committed to help close the achievement gap by 50 percent over the next five years. Also, we must do something about students dropping out; about third-graders and reading; about fifth-graders and math, and that means Algebra I and II for all students; and we have to have lab sciences and more language instruction.
Next month, my colleagues, the presidents, board members and I and others will again reach out to the underserved students at our annual Super Sunday events in the African American churches in the Bay Area and the Los Angeles Area. We will be in almost 100 churches in February. In four years we have gone from being in nine churches to 100. We talk about preparing their children to go to college and then into the workforce.
We will continue to distribute our “How to Get to College” poster and work with the public schools to help students prepare for college. We have printed and sent out three million over the past years. We will continue to outreach to the Latino parents through PIQE (Parent Institute for Quality Education), and we will work with our Asian-American communities.
We have stepped up our efforts with the military in our “Troops to College” program. There are a tremendous number of military personnel coming back to California, and we have to reach out to them to see what CSU can do to help educate the underserved students; most of those troops are underserved students.
Those of us in this room must redouble our efforts. We must be flexible, creative and strong advocates for the CSU. You’ll hear from Karen’s (Zamarripa) office and the presidents’ offices about reaching out. It is more than the legislators we are reaching out to – it is to our neighbors for them to call, write and email about the value of the CSU to this state.
And we must remember to keep students first in whatever we do.
In closed session yesterday, I informed the Board of Trustees and they approved that I was changing Ben Quillian’s title from vice chancellor for administration and finance to executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer. We are meeting our ratings agencies (Standard &Poor’s and Moody’s) and we need to have a CFO there. There will be no salary adjustment because of the salary freeze that I announced a few weeks ago for presidents, vice presidents, vice chancellors and the chancellor.
Chair Bleich mentioned that former Congresswoman Hilda Solis is now part of President Obama’s administration. There are more connections:
Others who have taken on additional duties are:
Northridge President Jolene Koester is the new chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). This is a very prestigious position.
Fullerton President Milt Gordon is the new chair of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and he is providing leadership to them.
Lastly, (Fresno State President) John Welty brought his national (baseball) team here before. I love it when we win national championships; I love when they bring a team to our board meeting. It doesn’t get any better than that. It is world class and that’s what Dominguez Hills has done on two different occasions since I have been chancellor.
Please come up here so we can honor your Men’s Soccer Team as the NCAA Division II national champions (Team comes up, President Garcia speaks, photos taken, a present given to Chancellor).
Thank you, Millie. This is the first (championship) ring that I have received in California; I do have a couple from Florida. However, Millie, you’ve outdone all these other presidents…I’ve gotten a signed baseball, a signed soccer ball, but you really stepped it up (with the ring). Thank you.
Chair Bleich that concludes my report. Thank you.