Report of the Chair

Remarks by Roberta Achtenberg
Chair of the Board
CSU Board of Trustees – Chair’s Report
January 23, 2008

I trust everyone had a festive holiday season with family and friends. I would like to express my personal wish to everyone for a healthy and productive new year.

I would like to use this opportunity to praise Dr. Lillian Taiz for her leadership in making the first move toward us in building a relationship. It is a bold move. It is important that all of the stakeholders work together whenever possible, and I hope it becomes a habit.

It will take a long time to reverse the course of the state’s finances. We are, indeed, in deep trouble. Together, we need to make the case to editorial boards, mayors, the business community, members of the legislature, and the governor. It is an imperative that we convey a unified message to attract the support of many allies. A key element is speaking with one voice to all willing to listen to us. Chancellor Reed created a joint working group of the constituent groups with key message points and strategies, and joint publicity. I expect the people of California will be with us when they understand the issue at stake: supplying an educated workforce that moves the state forward. We will act responsibly as we undertake this effort.

I want to thank the student leaders, the academic senates, the alumni, the union leaders and their members as we make clear we are a stronger as we engage this daunting struggle. I have to tell you that our plight may get worse before it gets better unless the state decides to re-invest in the CSU. In the Chancellor’s Report, I know Dr. Reed will comment on this topic more extensively.

We have been pleased with the responses from stakeholders who attended the events in Long Beach, San Francisco and Fresno in the fall or who reacted to the draft plan posted in October. The latest draft of the Access to Excellence plan was posted on the web site last week for review by members of the Steering Committee. After their comments are received by January 28, it will be accessible by the public. Essentially, this document re-states the important causes of the CSU. Shaped by the Steering Committee, and now reflecting and incorporating stakeholder input, this draft is now the basis for what will be a final strategic plan. Significantly, on the basis of the Steering Committee’s substantial November discussion, strategic plan goals now fall into either of two broad categories. One of these is “Commitments from the CSU,” comprising goals to which the university can unilaterally and immediately commit. The other is “Priorities for Public Policy Attention,” comprising goals that will require strategic linkages between the CSU and State policy leaders, K-12 and Community College leaders, the business community, and the broad philanthropic community. Issues that require such partnerships and State-level attention include building State policy capacity, funding, and statewide K-16 structures.

Moving forward, the Steering Committee will receive and consider comments concerning the most recent draft, though this time there will be no specific period formally set aside for consultation. Multiple opportunities for input have been prominent in the work prior to November, of course, beginning with campus “conversations,” an April 2007 systemwide meeting, specific and open invitations for posting comments about earlier drafts via the Internet, and across Fall 2007, three regional stakeholder meetings. In addition, prior to the March Board meeting we anticipate hosting a Sacramento meeting to discuss the evolving plan with policy-makers and -influentials. After that, the next step will be to bring a still-further refined draft plan to the Committee of the Whole at the March meeting for information and discussion. That March Board discussion will be a final opportunity for Board members to have their comments heard and considered by the Steering Committee prior to the development of a final draft. An Action Item for the Board is anticipated in May. I expect this plan will be an on-going and dynamic document. In the future, the Steering Committee will consider additional studies that should be undertaken.

As many of you know, the two Cal Poly universities have entered a Rose Float in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade for 60 years. And in 46 of those years, the Cal Poly float has won a major award. On January 1, the Cal Poly entry won the “Fantasy Trophy.” Eight television networks broadcast the parade to millions of viewer worldwide. What is noteworthy of the Cal Polys’ entry is that it is the parade’s only float designed, built, decorated and financed by college students. Congratulations to the students at Pomona and San Luis Obispo.

Congratulations to the Fresno State football team for their exciting win over Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl played in Boise, Idaho in late December.

The presidential search for San José State began this month. The Trustees Selection Committee and the Advisory Committee held its organizational meeting on January 14 on the San José campus. The search will continue into the spring and, if it progresses on the normal path, we should have a selection in May.

At the September meeting of this board, Henry Mendoza was introduced as the Governor’s newly appointed trustee. Henry offered wonderful contributions from the very beginning. Regrettably, the Governor’s Office did not properly file the appointment papers with the Senate Rules Committee so his appointment ended in November. The rules are such that re-submission of his appointment is not permitted for a period of time. Of course, we will miss his participation at the board table.

Every January, the board chair is required by our Rules of Procedure to nominate five trustees to serve on the Committee on Committees. This committee nominates the board chair, vice chair, CPEC representative and chairs and members of the standing committees. I nominate Debra Farar as committee chair, and trustees Jeff Bleich, Herb Carter, Ken Fong, Melinda Guzman, and Bill Hauck to serve on the Committee on Committees. A vote to approve the committee will be taken at the March meeting of this board.

That concludes my report. It is now time for the Chancellor’s Report.