Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White – July 24, 2019

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting – Chancellor’s Report
Long Beach, CA
July 24, 2019

Thank you, Chairman Day, for those are really remarkable stories.

The origin of the term “milestone" can be traced to the third century. The Romans had constructed a vast network of roads throughout Europe – some 53,000 miles worth. Stones were placed every 1,000 paces to help travelers mark their progress. About one hundred such stones are still in existence; most bear an inscription honoring whichever emperor was in power at the time.

While there is far less pacing involved today, we still use milestones to mark our progress. In a figurative sense, “milestone events" represent continuity and growth. They are an opportunity to reflect, to celebrate triumphs and to gather ourselves for challenges yet to be overcome.

Today, I want to quickly recognize three important milestones for the CSU.

This month, three presidents assume leadership of Cal State campuses. Presidents Jackson, Mahoney and Neufeldt – welcome. You are inspired and visionary leaders. Each of you is a champion of access, educational quality and student success. Your insight, expertise and experience will enrich Humboldt, San Francisco and San Marcos, and benefit all 23 CSU campuses. When I gather with our campus leaders to discuss the critical issues affecting Cal State students, our conversations have never been more robust, more appropriate and more forward-thinking. I have every confidence that these conversations will only be enhanced and enlivened with your participation. Again, welcome.

In another milestone event, the CSU's Equal Opportunity Program celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

EOP was borne out of the civil rights movement of the sixties. A hard-fought, student-led campaign ultimately brought EOP into being with the April 1969 passage of Senate Bill 1072 – the Harmer Bill. EOP's charge is to provide college access and support to students from historically low-income families. The word “historically" is significant – it underscores one of EOP's fundamental missions, to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty through the social mobility that higher education provides.

However, EOP's mission does not stop at breaking the cycle of poverty. It is a vehicle for social, cultural and political participation, representation and advancement. Its leaders and staff – past and present – are dedicated to creating authentic access to higher education as a purposeful means for achieving social equity.

Since EOP's inception, well over a quarter million students have participated in the program, which spans each of the CSU's 23 campuses. A quarter million students received a high-quality education, graduated, and are now leaders in every business and industry sector in California. Indeed, if you are looking for the very embodiment of the CSU mission, it can be found in EOP's impact.

Most of you are probably aware that EOP grants and admission assistance are given to economically and educationally disadvantaged students who show academic potential and a motivation to succeed. But often overlooked are the EOP's innovative and groundbreaking student-support services, many of which have become best practices throughout the CSU and across the nation. These include cultural inclusivity, holistic advising, support to smooth the transition to college, the acclaimed EOP Summer Bridge program and developmental coaching through graduation. Many of the innovations developed through EOP have informed our flagship student success effort – Graduation Initiative 2025.

A 50th Anniversary Gala will be held in about a month, on September 9th, right here in Long Beach at the Hyatt Regency, in conjunction with EOP's 2019 Conference. I encourage you to attend. You'll be inspired by the stories of current students and alumni – and have the opportunity to celebrate EOP: one of the CSU's great contributions to higher education and the state of California.  

Also happening in about a month, approximately 70,000 freshmen arrive on CSU campuses to begin their academic journeys. The fall 2019 cohort represents the third and final milestone I will discuss today… not because they are any more important than the students they precede or follow – of course, they are not – but because of the moment in time this cohort represents.

This group of students is the first cohort that will determine whether we reach our ambitious Graduation Initiative 2025 goals for six-year graduation rates and equity gaps.

Student success has always been at the core of our mission and it will continue to be long after 2025. But let's take advantage of this opportunity. Let's seize this moment, with a unity of purpose.

Eliminating equity gaps for students from historically underserved communities, while simultaneously raising success measures for all. This is the challenge for our time.

As the nation's largest and most diverse four-year institution, meeting this challenge is our moral imperative. As the Graduation Initiative 2025 presentation demonstrated yesterday, eliminating equity gaps is a goal that is within our reach. The data are clear: we are making significant progress. The state is behind us, investing boldly in our mission.

We have been preparing for this moment for years. Now, it's incumbent on us to apply what we've learned with a heightened intentionality of effort, to make our students feel welcome and to ensure they have all the support they need to succeed, to flourish and to achieve their academic and personal dreams.

California State University: The time is now.

Chairman Day, that concludes my report.