Report of the Chair

Remarks by Adam Day
Vice Chair, California State University Board of Trustees
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting
Long Beach, CA
May 24, 2017

Before I begin my report…

I want to add to the chorus of thanks and appreciation for Elliot Hirshman…

I wish to convey my congratulations to Sally Roush, who has been selected by Chancellor White to serve as interim president of San Diego State University beginning on July 1, 2017.

I look forward to Sally’s leadership at San Diego State… a university community that she knows well.

And I am also looking forward to continuing our rigorous and thoughtful search for the permanent president of the university... with an appointment timeframe of summer 2018.

On that note, trustees Abrego, Kimbell and Morales have agreed to serve on the search committee, with Chancellor White and Chair Eisen serving as ex-officios. I am honored to serve as chair.                                                                                                               

Between March and May, we celebrated the investitures of presidents Hutchinson, Junn, Sakaki, Papazian and Beck.

Congratulations to all on your investitures. These five new-ish presidents are proving to be truly outstanding and consequential leaders on their respective campuses… and are making waves nationally as well.

Stanislaus president Ellen Junn, for example, was recently selected by the magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as one of 25 women making a difference through leadership… while also tackling the toughest challenges facing higher education.

Congratulations, Ellen…

This award – like the many others our university community has received over the years – illustrates the CSU’s deep and lasting commitment, now six decades and counting, to our value of inclusive excellence.

In preparation for my report today, Chair Eisen forwarded me a recent article from The Boston Globe, which lamented the lack of diversity – and particularly, lack of women – in top leadership positions throughout higher education and Corporate America.

In 2011, the American Council on Education reported that women made up just 26 percent of all college presidents nationally.

And for women CEOs in Corporate America, that rate falls to under 10 percent.

So, candidly, I’m proud that nearly half of campus presidents in the CSU – 11 out of 23 – are women… and many identify as women of color. The CSU’s doubling of the national rate also holds true for our trustee colleagues.

We know what this commitment to inclusion and excellence brings to the CSU. When we embrace the myriad backgrounds, experiences and outlooks of everyone in our campus community, we develop new ideas, innovations and solutions to solve our greatest challenges... together.

The CSU should be – and is – a national leader in ensuring diversity and inclusive excellence at every level of our university… from the students we serve to the campus presidents and trustees who serve them.

And just as we continue to push for more diversity and equity in higher education, we also know that with a commitment to inclusion must also come that same rigor toward excellence.

So today, I would like to share three stories of inclusive excellence – one, past… one, present… and one, future.

A few decades ago, CalTrans was expanding Route 54 in National City, near San Diego, when they came upon a trove of mastodon bones.

Now, anyone with experience moving dirt in California knows that the discovery of fossils or artifacts is a rather common occurrence.

Yet, what makes this story unique is what these fossils may indicate about the history of humans on the American continents.

And since this is a Board of Trustees chair report, this story has a connection to the CSU.

Decades after the initial discovery along Route 54, a study led by Dr. Tom Deméré, curator of paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum and adjunct professor of evolutionary biology at San Diego State… determined through uranium decay tests that the bones – and, more importantly, the evidence of human manipulation of said bones – actually date back 130,000 years… far surpassing previous estimates of the first humans in the Americans by 115,000 years.

The study – published last month in the journal Nature – is big news to archaeologists, professors and students… as well as to the members of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, where I happen to serve as chief administrative officer.

The Kumeyaay people – according to tribal chairman Cody Martinez – traditionally believe that they have lived in the area since time immemorial.

Certainly, this discovery – led by a San Diego State faculty member – is a groundbreaking look into our past… and adds another dimension to our understanding of human existence.

Now, moving from deep below San Diego to the campus at San Luis Obispo...

I know we were all pleased – and awestruck – to hear the news that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo alumnus William Frost and his wife, Linda, recently gave a $110 million gift to the university’s College of Science and Mathematics.

The Frosts’ gift is among the largest ever given to public higher education in California... and currently stands as the largest gift in CSU history.

Most notably, this generous and forward-thinking gift by Bill and Linda Frost will transform science and mathematics education at Cal Poly by greatly enhancing the resources for undergraduate research… including funding for a new interdisciplinary research center, more student scholarships and research stipends, new cutting-edge equipment and more faculty to teach and mentor undergraduates.

This truly is an incredible, transformational gift for the students, faculty and staff at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo… for the CSU… and certainly, for the people of California.

President Armstrong… on behalf of the Board of Trustees, please convey our deepest thanks and appreciation to the Frosts for this exceptional commitment to our students and mission.

And, going from San Luis Obispo to about 250 miles above us right now… a toaster-sized cube satellite named CSUN-Sat-1 is currently in orbit… researching ways to extend human existence beyond Earth.

CSUN-Sat-1, in case you couldn’t guess… was designed, built and commanded by students and faculty from Cal State Northridge.

While CSUN-Sat-1 marks Cal State Northridge’s first satellite in orbit, this technology is actually a product of the CSU… with Cal State Fullerton faculty conducting research on deployable antennas… and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo being one of two universities to develop the original specifications for cube satellites back in 1999.

CSUN-Sat-1 was sent into space on April 18th aboard an Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station and released into orbit… where it will conduct research and test a new lithium ion battery designed by our friends at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The plan is to see if this new battery can put up with the conditions of deep space… with the goal of it eventually being used on deep-space missions to Mars.

So, if all things go well, Mars might have a CSUN satellite campus – get it? – in the near future.

All bad puns aside… it is evident that these three stories of legacy, generosity and discovery – and the countless others like it that are made and told each day on all 23 campuses and throughout the state – are proof positive that inclusive excellence is indeed thriving in the California State University.

Finally, I’d like to comment on two items brought to our attention.

First, I have reviewed all of the Academic Senate resolutions… and I recognize – as we all do – the important voice of faculty in the California State University.

Second, a recent state audit dealing with growth in the number of CSU management personnel, accountability of CSU’s budget, and compensation of CSU executives was issued on April 20, 2017.

The Board of Trustees have discussed the matters and takes them very seriously. I have asked the Chancellor to work on the recommendations in the audit and to update the Auditor and the full Board of Trustees on progress.

That concludes my report.

Chancellor White?