Continuums of Service by Campus Compact

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
Continuums of Service by Campus Compact
Long Beach, CA
April 9, 2015

Thank you Jennifer Hine, Elaine Ikeda, Andrew Seligsohn, and everyone at Campus Compact for the invitation to speak this afternoon...

It’s been a very nautically-themed week for me, being here on the historic Queen Mary…

I might take a dinghy back to the CSU offices about a half-mile away across Queensway Bay…

And yesterday, I visited our CSU California Maritime Academy campus in Vallejo – just outside San Francisco – for the opening of an exciting new maritime safety and security training facility developed through a fantastic public-private partnership with Chevron. 

For those of you not familiar with Cal Maritime… I highly encourage you to read up on this unique campus… one built and sustained on the idea of partnerships, stakeholder investment and long-term civic engagement. 

A prime example for today’s conversation…

When I think about civic engagement in higher education, I’m first reminded of the CSU’s mission and commitment to its students and the people of California. 

Our commitment starts with the premise that our students need to live, work, compete and prosper in a global pluralistic society.

We are about opportunity through access and diversity; we are about quality; we are about student success. We pride ourselves on who we educate and graduate, not on who we exclude.

As the largest public higher education system in the United States – providing baccalaureate, masters, and applied doctoral degrees - the CSU is committed to preparing our students for the complex issues they’ll face in the workplace and civil society after graduation… and for finding solutions to those problems.

For more than five decades, the CSU has prepared students to be informed, active and committed leaders.  Our campuses have served as models of academic excellence and as catalysts for strengthening our communities through engagement.

We place immense value on our ability to prepare students to successfully apply their learning beyond their first job, and instead focus on a lifetime of active involvement in the economy with likely multiple jobs, and society.

The CSU is committed to this idea… We believe that higher education must go beyond “workforce training” and include a focus on developing full citizens who are:

  • Culturally competent problem solvers who strive for social, economic and environmental justice;
  • Civically engaged citizens with strong work ethics and an ethical compass;
  • Technologically competent pioneers for innovation; and,
  • Embracing teamwork, focused on goals, seeking success and managing disappointment.

These are qualities that our public and private stakeholders – those who share a leadership role in the CSU – expect from our graduates in order to meet the needs and find solutions to the most critical issues facing our state, nation and world.

By including all stakeholders in the conversation – and as a public university in California, there are a lot of stakeholders – we discover that our campuses need to be – and are – central hubs for educating students for a lifetime of active citizenship. 

The research supports our efforts. Students are better prepared for active citizenship when their efforts are supported for longer periods of time – which occurs when a university prioritizes civic engagement as a part of its mission. 

We also know that colleges and universities have become the central institutions for civic engagement of younger generations. More importantly, research has indicated that there is no comparable institution that provides young adults this opportunity to gain the skills and experience of civic engagement.

I agree wholeheartedly that civic engagement and service-learning must be integral in the mission of higher education institutions – an idea that has been at the core of the CSU’s mission since its inception. 

This point was further emphasized to me when I was summoned to the chambers of the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Cantil Sakauye. Her perspective on this issue of civic engagement came from the role that it can play with law enforcement and public safety – so we see that this issue goes far beyond the classroom or university setting.

All 23 campuses in the CSU have community service centers and more than half of our 460,000 students are engaged in some type of community service.

Our campuses have built, expanded and sustained key partnerships with nonprofits, K-14, businesses, local government and philanthropic organizations through service-learning and community service.

Combined, CSU students are totaling 32 million hours annually of civic engagement work – with a total economic impact of $722 million.

Recently, the Carnegie Foundation designated 11 CSU campuses with the 2015 Community Engagement Classification and 15 campuses were named in the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The CSU’s Center for Community Engagement, which oversees systemwide initiatives and community engagement capacity, is currently working to improve our data gathering for community engagement programs.

Along with a 3-year STEM service-learning research study funded by the W.M. Keck Foundation, the Center is developing, in partnership with Cal State Monterey Bay, a web-based platform that can track, report and identify risk in service-learning and community engagement programs. This platform helps campuses and me tell our story with business leaders and elected officials.

And partnerships, like the one between Cal Maritime and Chevron, are key to developing active citizens that can address the complexities and demands of the 21st century in California and across the globe.  

Let’s just think about that for a moment… Cal Maritime, the smallest of our 23 campuses, pumps nearly 90 million dollars per year into the California economy.

Its students enter the workforce – at a nearly 100 percent job placement rate, most in the six figures to start – and begin contributing to the economy and civil society almost immediately.

Cal Maritime’s students and alumni are actively enriching the SF Bay Area community through summer academic enrichment programs for disadvantaged teens, introducing them to a future in STEM fields…

Its 500-foot-long, 10,000-ton training ship – the T.S. Golden Bear – contains one of only four subcontracted test facilities in the world approved by the U.S. Coast Guard to perform ballast water management system testing, critical to ensuring that invasive species do not contaminate critical watersheds… partnering with governments and industry on this technology.

During annual international training cruises, Cal Maritime students, in partnership with the local Kiwanis club, take part in philanthropic programs at various ports-of-call… and truly exemplifying the ideals of global service-learning.

Later this month, Cal Maritime students will leave for Panama, the east coast of the U.S., and Western Europe.

Now, we can’t all be ship captains or go on international training cruises… although we can pretend a bit today while on the R.M.S. Queen Mary… but if we understand the massive impact that the smallest campus in our system can make on a regional and global level, just think about what the difference the other 22 can do and will continue to make…

In fact, CSU campus engagement programs have developed more than 4,500 partnerships that work to make a difference in local communities and around the world.

Combine that with the 32 million hours of service our students complete each year and the immense scale that the CSU offers… partnering with local communities from Arcata to San Diego, from Silicon Valley to the Imperial Valley, and all points in between.

For example… one of my alma maters, Cal State East Bay – which also hosts California Campus Compact’s offices – requires all first year students to participate in service-learning, collaborating with faculty members and community organizations in the Oakland and East Bay region.

Other campuses are focused on improving higher education access for underserved communities, like the Cambodian community located near Cal State Long Beach…

With such a diverse range of complex issues, it only makes sense for our system to allow each campus to define its own priorities for civic engagement and service-learning based on the needs and issues of the community it serves.  We strive to be clear on goals, but loose on the means of getting there.

And finding solutions to complex issues like poverty and climate change – California’s water drought, for example – demands a diverse collection of voices that require:

  • Deep engagement from the nonprofit, business, and academic sectors;
  • Regional approach and statewide scale;
  • And serious examination within a multi-disciplinary approach.

I believe that higher education, particularly the CSU, is uniquely positioned to find solutions to the problems facing California and the nation, where a vast majority of the country’s food and agriculture is produced in the relatively-small and arid Central Valley.

On the topic of California’s water drought… one of the most pressing issue in the state and one that profoundly impacts the nation and world…

The CSU is already using its experience and resources to engage communities and find meaningful solutions to this problem.

Currently, our campuses are leading community outreach, research and policy analysis that will be essential to addressing the immediate consequences of California’s water drought – and the longer-term, global challenges of ensuring a safe and reliable water supply.

Cal State is doing this through the Agricultural Research Initiative, the Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology and the Water Resources and Policy Initiative… among numerous campus programs, research centers and multi-disciplinary collaborations.

In the hardest hit areas of California, particularly the Central Valley and inland desert communities, colleges and universities will need to become more engaged in community-based efforts to improve resource efficiency. 

These efforts require all of California’s stakeholders to work together and develop an effective community engagement strategy. The CSU, with our regional distribution across the state, can play a critical role as organizing partners.

And I believe that in order for us to solve the most critical issues of our time, we will need to solve another drought plaguing our state… a drought of 1 million college graduates by 2025.

This degree drought will hinder our state’s ability to compete in the global marketplace, educate our children, and solve the problems of poverty and climate change…

In the last decade, more than 900,000 CSU degrees have been earned.  An impressive figure, but that number will need to rise if California is to mitigate this coming education drought.

The CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 is an effort to mitigate that education drought and boost the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by an additional 100,000 relative to current graduation rates – adding another 1 million CSU graduates in the next decade to help meet projected demand. 

And demand is high – nearly 1 in 10 Californians and 1 in 20 nationwide have a degree from the CSU.

We’ve also set targets to close the achievement gap for historically underrepresented and low-income students by nearly half…. And we’re collaborating closely with our community, business, faculty and academic stakeholders to ensure that service-learning and civic engagement is a key part of this plan.

We must ensure that our students – who come from diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic realities... from affluent neighborhoods in Silicon Valley to underserved communities here in Long Beach – are prepared, rewarded, challenged and supported in order to find solutions to our society’s most complex issues. 

And when those 1 million graduates enter the economy and society of California over the next decade, we know that their worldview will be pointed towards civic engagement and lifelong service to their communities.

Thank you.