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Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White – January 23, 2013

Chancellor, California State University
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting: Chancellor’s Report
Long Beach, CA
January 23, 2013

Thank you, Chair Linscheid.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you and all of the trustees for entrusting me with this humbling yet exciting responsibility.

As you know, I believe that higher education is a vital enterprise for our state, and that the California State University has an absolutely critical role to play in the coming months and years. I am proud and honored to be a part of this system.

I should mention that this is the third time I have sat in this chair. The first time was last week with faculty and colleagues of the Academic Senate. The second time was yesterday in a profoundly important discussion among trustees, presidents, and co-workers. The third time was today.

Another family member, however, sat here on Monday—my son Logan. He saw the hammer on Chair Linscheid's desk and he wanted to know, "Why does he get the hammer—is he more important than you?"

Then he took a look at the name tag on the other side of me and said, "I thought the governor sat next to you. Who is...Edmund?!"

First Days

During my first days on the job, I have been meeting with the presidents, vice chancellors, leaders of bargaining units, and with the Academic Senate. I've also been walking around the floors of the building and getting to know names and faces.

I also had a chance to meet four CSULB students while they stuffed boxes for Super Sunday. It was my first "student-fix" of the year. It felt good.

So did listening to Rudy Silva, who has been transformed by the generosity of donors, and by the faculty, staff, and students at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB. And to Anne Smith, the extended education nursing student from Stanislaus who spoke today about the time and value of the degree. And Marine Miguel Saldana, a Fresno student and a veteran who spoke on educational needs and innovation and access.

Last week I spoke before members of the Auxiliary Organizations Association at their conference in Pasadena. I told them that I hope we can harness the "power of 23" with our 23 campuses. We are a dynamic repository of academic programs and business practices that allows the whole to exceed the sum of its parts.

I likened it to a painting: If you have just two or three colors, you can make a decent picture—like maybe my son in 3rd grade. But if you have 23 colors you can paint like Monet.

That's what we have here—a masterpiece constantly in the making that powers California's economy and social mobility. We inform California's approach to climate and transportation. We decrease the use of the criminal justice system and social support programs. We create the workforce that serves private business in all the sectors and all the counties of California.

The Udacity press conference at San Jose State last week got widespread coverage. That's because, from a national perspective, the CSU is leading the way in the development of new learning strategies, as we discussed across the system yesterday and this morning.

The integration of technology and faculty is allowing us to fulfill our mission of reaching more students and helping them earn a degree in a shorter amount of time.

For example, our new Cal State Online program will give us a bigger platform from which to launch our many successful online programs. The program that was just launched is targeting students who had to "stop out" on their degree because of work, family, or other commitments. By giving them the tools to succeed and complete their degree, we are helping these students to get where they need to go. And to me, that is the very definition of what our job should be.

I have also been learning about several key initiatives that are being designed to reduce costs and help us re-direct some resources to teaching and learning and research.

For example, we are working on a shared services center for procurement and accounts payable. The shared services center, along with strategic sourcing, is expected to reduce costs by more than $30 million each year when fully implemented.

Our Common Financial System eliminates redundant campus-based financial system modifications and is expected to reduce administrative costs by more than $10 million each year.

Our Next Generation Cyber-infrastructure strategy is moving toward the integration of cloud technologies, allowing us to reduce the number of CSU data centers and standardize network equipment. We are also working to reduce utility and operating costs to support our online delivery systems.

I know that this move toward technology-enhanced online learning is a major priority of the trustees, presidents, and faculty, and I'm proud that the CSU is at the vanguard of these efforts. I am looking forward to learning more about all of these issues as I visit all 23 of our campuses this year.

Budget

As we heard from the budget presentation yesterday, we are grateful to the governor for a reinvestment of state funds into higher education.

I know that the CSU has been challenged over the past several years. However, with finances more stable and predictable in the out years, and now that Proposition 30 has passed, we are cautiously optimistic that our budget will begin to turn around. Thank you to all of you for your efforts on behalf of Proposition 30.

The CSU has a vital role to play in the future success of our state. I will work relentlessly with you to tell that story.

When I visit with the governor and the legislature throughout the spring, I will keep reiterating that message. We have an important job to do here. What we do matters—for our students, and for the future of California.

Transitions

Finally, regarding transitions on our campuses, we currently have two presidential searches underway, for our Fresno and Los Angeles campuses. Our first open meeting for both campuses will be held early next month. We anticipate being able to name our new presidents in May.

We also have two upcoming investitures, for President Garcia next month and for President Wong in March.

And here at the Chancellor's Office, I am sad to report the retirement of our general counsel, Chris Helwick. Chris has served as general counsel here at the CSU since 1994; and earlier she worked in the UC general counsel's office. Chris is known and respected all across the country for her work in university legal issues. In fact, one of the incentives during the recruitment process at the CSU was that we have a "great general counsel" here. I'm starting to think this might have been a bait-and-switch.

But truly, she will be greatly missed, here at the Chancellor's Office and at our campuses. I will work with the trustees to make a recommendation to them in the next few months.

I want to thank all of our presidents, faculty, and staff for their hard work during these leadership transition periods.

I couldn't be more proud or more bullish on the CSU and on California's future. In fact, I knew that the CSU was a great place, but now that I am here, I'm learning that we are even better than I knew. The branding folks will probably say no, but I'm thinking that we should change our tagline—"The CSU: Working for California"—to "The CSU: You Have No Idea How Well We Are Working for California."

Chair Linscheid, that concludes my report.​