Report of the Chair

Remarks by Jeffrey L. Bleich
Chair of the Board
CSU Board of Trustees – Chair’s Report
July 21, 2009

This is the time in our meeting in which the chair recognizes some of the accomplishments within the CSU. And, even after the very serious agenda of budget cuts and fees, that we have had, I would not like to have accomplishments overshadowed.

Congratulations are in order for Trustees Bill Hauck and Henry Mendoza on their successful confirmation by the California Senate on June 26. You are both bona fide members of the board and suffer with the rest of us in volunteering your time to the CSU.

In spring, approximately 94,400 degrees were conferred at our 23 campuses. This is what it is all about: getting students through their university experience to graduation. We are proud of the accomplishment of each graduate and wish them well as they progress in their chosen careers. I want to personally thank members of the Board of Trustees who participated in commencement ceremonies. From my own experience, I can tell you that the presence of trustees is noticed and much appreciated by the graduates and their families, the campus faculty and staff, and the presidents. It truly is an uplifting experience for us to celebrate with our graduates.

I noticed recently that Humboldt State University recognized award-winning Geography Professor Stephen Cunha, who was a 2007 WANG Award recipient in 2007, was named the Humboldt State 2009 Scholar of the Year Earlier this month, the White House announced the individuals and organizations receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Of the 22, two are CSU faculty members. I am very proud that Dr. Frank Bayliss, professor of biology at San Francisco State, and Dr. Steven Oppenheimer, professor of biology at CSU Northridge, will be receiving this award from President Barack Obama this coming fall. Each award recipient also receives a $10,000 grant to further their mentoring work.

For the college sports fans here, I am pleased to note that the Sonoma State’s men’s golf team claimed the title of NCAA 2009 Division-II national golf champs. Congratulations to the Sonoma State golf team.

Former Long Beach State baseball star Evan Longoria was named the American League’s starting third baseman for the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which was played last Tuesday in St. Louis. Longoria plays for the Tampa Bay Rays and he is the third former Long Beach State player to compete in a Major League Baseball All-Star game.

In terms of service to their communities, this summer several of the campuses are offering youth camps, including activities such as sports camps, art camps, and computer camps. Of particular note for the board’s concern about pre-collegiate skill development, a number of our campuses have organized pre-algebra and algebra institutes in conjunction with the CSU’s African American Initiative. What is particularly significant is that the institute locations have grown from three sites last summer to 15 sites this summer with our church partners. Additional algebra workshops are offered on our campuses in special sessions organized by extended education.

This is the time of the year where under Trustee policy, the Board Chair approves and reports on the annual operating budget for the State University House. I approved an operating budget of $74,000 for 2009-2010 with provisions for supplies and services, insurance, and utilities.

The funding, all of which is non-state money, is derived from the proceeds of the sale of the previous State University House in Bel-Air. The trust fund is restricted to supporting the operation, furnishing, and maintenance of the State University House. When the trust was established in 1991, two spending rules were instituted to protect the corpus and ensure there are sufficient interest earnings in the future to cover operational and maintenance costs without using General Fund dollars. We have held true to this commitment. Do any Board members have any questions?

The legislature announced a budget deal last night that takes $9 billion from education which includes a $3 billion cut in higher education. That represents a massive cut of support for 95,000 university students.

The trustees recognize the struggles of students, many who are the first in their families to be university students. Our leadership agonizes every day to find solutions. Our faculty and staff will struggle absorbing furloughs or workforce reductions. We admire the staff that keeps the campuses clean, looking good and functioning. The California Master Plan, struck 50 years ago, gave promise for everyone to have a better life and now the budget cuts imposed on us from Sacramento shatter that dream. Whether it is an oil severance tax, a tobacco tax, or a service tax, California needs more revenue to maintain higher education and public services. To the Board of Trustees, the budget shortfall of $584 million is a huge economic tsunami with no relief in sight. We do not take pleasure in raising fees. We heard staff this afternoon say it is possible the budget crisis could be repeated in six months. Unless the system in Sacramento is changed, there will always be three votes short of the two-thirds needed to pass a budget or raise taxes.

The finger pointing game used by some in this room and outside will not solve these dysfunctional problems in our government. As trustees, we are not paid a salary or retainer to be here; we are here because we believe in public education. Personal attacks do not resonate well. What resonates well are professor James Refalo from Los Angeles who conducted an analysis of fees at comparison state university with California, the student who spoke in favor of fee increases to sustain the core of the CSU, Student Trustee Russel Statham whose thoughtful comments were ridiculed, Pat Gantt who said his union is very unhappy about furloughs but agreed to them to mitigate the budget cut, and our presidents who are already 40% behind in pay who will give up a month’s pay. In conclusion, we hear you and will fight for the resources needed to operate the CSU.

That completes my report.

Chancellor Reed, will you deliver your report.