Remarks by Dr. Joseph I. Castro - July 27, 2021

Cal State Tech Connect
Welcome Remarks (as prepared)
Chancellor Joseph I. Castro
July 27, 2021

Thank you for that kind introduction, Michael, and for including me on your agenda today.

I would also like to thank Chris O’Connell, Felix Zuniga, Kate Miffitt and Kendra Ard for pulling together this fantastic event.

And to the CSU’s remarkable IT professionals in attendance – 1,000 strong! – welcome to the fifth-annual Cal State Tech conference. It was important to me that I join you today, the first time I have had that privilege since I became chancellor to express my deep gratitude for the vital work you perform every day.

There has been no more shining example of this work and the critical role you play at the CSU than your extraordinary efforts that have helped us continue to thrive through the pandemic.

Through your dedication, ingenuity and creativity, you transformed the CSU into the largest online university in the nation essentially overnight. 

With a strategic and steady approach, and in the midst of uncertainty, you created a more resilient university, and allowed us to meet unprecedented challenges over the last year and a half.  I want you to know your efforts are recognized and they are appreciated.

Working hand-in-hand with our faculty and staff, CSU technology professionals facilitated a seamless transition to virtual learning and support for our diverse and talented students, allowing them to safely maintain progress on their path to graduation. This was accomplished in multiple ways, and I’d like to mention just a few here today.

You transformed teaching materials so they were accessible online. You provided software, tools, training and help-desk support. You readied and distributed technology devices to students. And, of course, you implemented and supported tools that have allowed staff and faculty to perform their jobs remotely. In this regard, please allow me to borrow a data point from Chief Information Officer Michael Berman. It’s one that will make your head spin: over the past year, CSU IT professionals have supported more than 10 billion minutes of Zoom meetings.

You helped ensure continuity of campus services by transitioning them from paper-based activities to digital workflows. You provided access to the remote phone system, resources and data systems needed to keep up daily operations. And – sometimes overlooked, but of critical importance – you helped us maintain information security, even while the CSU’s digital footprint grew increasingly larger.

And this was all done at the drop of a hat and without the luxury of an existing how-to manual at your disposal. Thank you for this exceptional work!

I always endeavor to look for a silver lining during challenging times, and countless examples have emerged over the past 16 months. First among them, the technology tools you developed through this public health crisis have demonstrated tremendous benefits for our students while enhancing the efficiency of campus operations. And we will rely on these tools – and our students will continue to enjoy their benefits – long after the pandemic – even as you continue to find innovative tech solutions to deepen our connections, enhance student success and advance equity.

To this end, just two weeks ago, the CSU launched the first phase of SEE SUCCESS, which stands for California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success. This bold initiative will enhance student achievement and create more equitable opportunities for the CSU community by providing incoming first-year and transfer students at the eight participating campuses with an iPad Air, Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio. This equipment will be offered free-of-charge to up to 35,000 students for the duration of their CSU undergraduate experience.

And this is just the beginning. With your leadership and expertise, I have every confidence:

  • that our students will continue to become better connected and more technologically proficient as a result of new tools and services;
  • that university operations will continue to become more efficient and effective;
  • that, with your guidance, our faculty will continue to discover exciting new tools that enhance teaching and learning;
  • that our advisors and other student-support staff will find technology-based solutions to support and engage students like never before; and
  • and that our digital transformation will continue to gain momentum, positioning us as a national model at the forefront of innovation.

On behalf of the entire university, I want to again extend my heartfelt gratitude for keeping us all connected. Thanks in large part to your efforts, we are indeed one university across 23 campuses and there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together.

Michael, I understand you have some questions for me. Could you please lead the Q&A session?