Report of the Chair

Remarks by Jeffrey L. Bleich
Chair of the Board
CSU Board of Trustees – Chair’s Report
May 13, 2009

I’m very pleased to be back here.

Several people have asked what it is like to be on a temporary assignment in the White House. By which they usually mean, have I actually gotten to spend any real one-on-one face time with . . . Bo the Dog. I have and we’ve bonded, since basically we both work like dogs. The work is great but relentless. I no longer count the calendar in months but in dog months. So, since I started in March I figure I’ve technically been there a little over a year. My daughter found out that when the President went to the White House his daughters got a dog. So, not to be outdone by the President, we just got our own dog Lucy.

President Truman is famous for saying that if you want to have a friend you can trust in Washington DC, get a dog. But I think if you want a friend in Washington DC you can trust all you need to do is be part of the CSU. I’ve had the good fortune to visit with all of the Presidents, and to meet in the White House with President Quayomi and President Weber. I’ve received suggestions from President Shirvani, and traded messages with good friends like Trustee Guzman and Hank Reichman. Driving to work I heard my friend, Lillian Taiz, on NPR. I’ve enjoyed visits from many CSU students including some former CSSAers like Nadir Vissany and Heather Williams. And, of course, you can’t go anywhere in D.C. without seeing the indelible stamp of Chancellor Reed at every meeting on education. He is held up universally as the gold standard for higher education leaders. But when it comes to trusted friends, I want to give a special thank you to Trustee Carter for having done the work of two trustees. Being away has only reinforced my appreciation that you have all become more than just friends; you are family.

So on behalf of the board, I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to our newest family member on the board, Linda Lang, who was appointed by the governor on March 30. Welcome.

Also on March 30, the governor re-appointed our longest-serving member, Bill Hauck to a richly-deserved third term. It says something that three different Governors have each recognized Bill’s extraordinary talent and commitment to the CSU. We are lucky to have you, Bill. Congratulations.

Like a family, we share not just the joy of new additions and successes but also the sadness of each loss. Former trustee, Roy Brophy, of Sacramento passed away last month. Roy had an unprecedented career of service to higher education. He literally lived the California Master Plan by serving in all three systems of higher education in California. Roy initially served on the Community Colleges Board of Governors. He then joined this board from 1972 to 1980 and again from 1983 to 1986. Then in 1986, he left this board to accept an appointment to the UC Board of Regents.

Another sad loss is that this is likely the last meeting for faculty trustee Craig Smith. His term concludes on June 30th. Craig you have been a conscience for this Board and a wise and gifted thinker. We’ll miss you and we wish you well.

This is also the last meeting for student trustee Curtis Grima, whose term expires on June 30. In Curtis’ case, we know that this is the order of things since our whole goal is for our students to graduate and go out and succeed in the world. Curtis, we enjoyed your company on the board and wish you great success after you graduate. In July, Russel Statham will assume the position of voting student trustee and, he promises, all hell will break loose.

Most important though, I want to congratulate a system that continues to excel even in the toughest of tough times. The CSU system, Humboldt State University and CSU Northridge each won an award through the annual Chill Out: Campus Solutions to Global Warming competition, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. The CSU system was recognized for its efforts, in partnership with SunEdison, to bring 8 megawatts of solar power to 15 of the campuses. Humboldt State was honored for making alternative transportation a viable option on its campus through the free "Jack Pass." This pass provides for an unlimited number of bus rides for all campus students. Northridge received an award for maintaining the largest fuel cell power plant of any university in the world. The ultra-clean, 1-megawatt plant generates 18% of the campus’s electricity while producing nearly zero particulate emissions. This is literally the future – it is what people talk about as something we may one day achieve, and we are already achieving it here at the CSU.

San Diego State astronomy professor Bill Welsh is one of nine astronomers nationwide to serve on the NASA Kepler Telescope Mission. The Kepler Mission will survey approximately 100,000 stars over three and a half years to determine if there are any planets similar to earth. Dr. Welsh has been involving his students in aspects of his research.

I am informing the board that at the July meeting, I will appoint an ad hoc committee of trustees to monitor the implementation of the ten-year strategic plan: Access to Excellence. This ad hoc committee will be chaired by Roberta Achtenberg.

Finally it is baseball season. As President Paul Zingg reminds us, when it comes to sports books, the smaller the ball the better the book. Which is why there are dozens of great baseball books and no great books about basketball. We will all be cheering for Dominguez Hills and Sonoma State in the Men’s Division II baseball playoffs and screaming for Fresno State, Fullerton, Long Beach, and San Diego women’s softball teams to win the Division I tournament. In a little over a week, the Division I baseball tournament will be selected and it is likely a couple of Cal State teams will be among them.

It feels good to be back. So now we turn to the Chancellor’s Report.