Long Beach Mayor’s ReceptionTalking Points (as prepared)Chancellor Joseph I. CastroJuly 14, 2021
Thank you, Mayor Garcia, for that kind introduction and for hosting tonight’s reception.
This is one of the first in-person events my wife, Mary, and I have had the pleasure of attending since I began my service as the CSU’s eighth chancellor. And it is not lost on me that our presence here tonight – our safety and comfort in being here – is due in large part to the City’s valiant efforts over the past year to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. I think that deserves a round of applause!
Mary and I look forward to mingling with all of you – can you believe we actually get to mingle? – and to learn about your own stories and priorities. But first I want to say just a few words of welcome.
For those who don’t know me, I am the grandson of a Dreamer from Michoacán, Mexico, whose father – my great grandfather – had come to the United States almost a century ago to help build the railroad. My grandparents were farmworkers. Together with my single mother they raised me, working hard to give me the opportunities they didn’t have.
I was the first in my family to go to college, attending UC Berkeley as part of a program that recruited students from the Central Valley and from modest financial means. Thanks to this opportunity, and the example set by my mother and grandparents, I’ve had the privilege of dedicating my career to transforming lives through the power of higher education, most recently as president at Fresno State.
With my deep Central Valley roots, there were really only two things that could convince me to move south. First was the opportunity to positively impact lives at a scale that only the CSU provides, as the largest, most diverse four-year public university in the country. And not far behind was the stellar reputation of the City of Long Beach.
The Castro family moved here in January, and we absolutely love it. Although this is one of the largest cities in the state, I wholeheartedly agree that you’ve somehow managed to retain the small town feel that I’m so used to.
Perhaps even more important, I’ve been thrilled to learn that our city’s essential core values dovetail so beautifully with those of the CSU. The entire Long Beach community represents and champions diversity, equity and inclusion, opportunity for all, and success through education.
These are the values you so effectively live out in your daily work and – so often – in partnership with the CSU.
In fact, the Long Beach College Promise is still the gold standard within the CSU for creating a seamless pathway –from Long Beach Unified to Long Beach City College to Cal State Long Beach – for thousands of grade-schoolers from all backgrounds.
Thank you for continuing to support this invaluable model. And with our shared values, I know I can count on your support for a few of my other priorities going forward.
First, we are looking forward to safely returning the majority of courses and activities to in-person delivery this fall, including at Cal State Long Beach. You may have heard that all CSU and UC campuses are requiring students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to seek an exemption on medical or religious grounds. This requirement takes effect at the beginning of the fall term, or upon full FDA approval of the vaccine, whichever occurs later. The push is on this summer to administer even more vaccines, and I truly appreciate your continued partnership.
The CSU is also in its final push to meet our Graduation Initiative 2025 goals of improving graduation rates and closing equity gaps between our low-income students, students of color and first-generation students and their peers – once and for all.
May I ask, by a show of hands: how many of you are Cal State alumni? That’s amazing! We recently reached a milestone of 4 million alumni around the globe, so you are in very good company.
I know our alumni – and the Long Beach community as a whole – provide so many supports for our students, from helping them meet basic needs to providing mentorships, internships, jobs and community engagement.
These opportunities are invaluable in helping students of all backgrounds achieve the lifelong benefits of a CSU degree – and in helping us achieve our GI2025 goals. And for that I thank you.
And finally, I would like to note the CSU’s efforts to diversify our leadership, faculty and staff to better reflect the talented and diverse students we serve. It remains extraordinarily important to me that our students see themselves and feel a sense of belonging on our campuses – connected with faculty and staff who understand their lived experiences and are uniquely able to inspire their very best.
I’ve already started discussions with UC President Michael Drake to develop a pipeline program that encourages CSU graduates to enter UC doctoral programs and then return to the CSU to teach. I hope you will help us in growing and encouraging the next generation of Long Beach Ph.D.s.
I’ll end my remarks here so that we can spend the rest of our time together in conversation. And please know that I am always available for future discussions and to serve as a resource for you in your important work.
I look forward to answering any questions you might have and to hearing your insights and ideas for building and expanding our partnerships into the future.
Again, thank you!