Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. WhiteChancellor, California State UniversityCSU Board of Trustees Meeting – Chancellor’s ReportLong Beach, CAMarch 24, 2020
Thank you, Chair Day.
In the interest of expediency during these exigent circumstances, I will also offer an abbreviated report today.
I want to use my time to express my deepest gratitude, appreciation and, indeed, admiration for the ingenuity, resiliency and unshakable resolve demonstrated by the, campus leadership, faculty, staff, students and Trustees of the California State University during this unprecedented public health emergency. Our collective efforts are guided by our North Star to protect the health and well-being of our students, employees and campus communities as we strive to maintain academic continuity and our students’ progress to degree. Your efforts have been both inspired and inspiring. I have seen and heard of many dozens of inventive and creative processes and methods you have developed to maintain critical services and fulfill our academic mission during this crisis – even as we adjust to new work settings and unfamiliar ways of conducting our operations.
It’s something I will never forget.
And like Chair Day, I want to thank Presidents Harrison and Morishita for the remarkable – but characteristic – commitment they’ve demonstrated in extending their service to their campuses and the CSU through fall 2020. I am grateful to Chair Day and the Board of Trustees for accepting my offer to continue as Chancellor through December. It is my hope and firm belief that maintaining a continuity of leadership will prove helpful as we work through and adapt to the emerging realities we face; that it will lend some experience and certainty to these times of uncertainty; and that by delaying transfer in CSU leadership – whether in the Chancellor’s Office or on our campuses – we will be able to focus entirely on the evolving demands of this crisis.
But even as I applaud our efforts, I know – we all know – that in many respects, our work is just beginning and will extend over many months. It is work that will, at times, test our will, try our patience and demand every ounce of our experience and intellect. For the foreseeable future, our “comfort zone” will be but a fond memory.
And as Clarissa Estes wrote in her piece “We Were Made For These Times”: “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.”
Chair Day commented we are in uncharted waters, which prompts me to suggest that individually and collectively, I believe we the people of the CSU are analogous to being a great ship. And in the concluding words of Estes: “When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”
And so I humbly ask that you do as I do when faced with a particularly daunting – perhaps seemingly insurmountable – challenge. Become laser-focused on our worthy and critically important mission. Remember, the CSU is in the business of transforming lives. We elevate communities. We are preparing the workforce of today and tomorrow that will drive California to its brightest future and that will develop safeguards against future societal crises.
During my time here at the CSU, we’ve faced many imposing challenges together and this pandemic might be the most formidable yet. But if my seven and a half years here have taught me anything, it’s that collectively, focused on our mission, we don’t merely survive challenges, we rise to meet them, emerging stronger, more capable and more resilient than ever.
We have done it before. And we will do it now, for the benefit of our current and future students and the great state of California.
Chair Day, that concludes my report.