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Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed – March 25, 2009

​Chancellor, California State University
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting
March 25, 2009

Thank you, Vice Chair Carter.

As you mentioned, we are proud that Trustee Chair Bleich will be working for the President for the next several months. If you are there (in Washington, D.C.) do call him because he can get you a blue pass and that means you get in the gate and go to the West Wing. While there ask him to take you to lunch in the West Wing – it is a special place.

Budget

Seriously, we have been very busy the past two months since our last board meeting. I want to thank Speaker Bass for her leadership during that time and thank her for her many courtesies to me. She is always available, she is always at the end of the telephone line when we call even though she always knows we will ask for more. The speaker cares about the California State University – she is a proud graduate of Dominguez Hills. From the beginning of her service, she has really helped us.

I have been in public administration 40 years plus…but I have never seen an economic meltdown like we have now in this country and this state. We talked yesterday in the Governmental Affairs and in Finance committees, and in all the talk there is no good choice for CSU right now.

We are in a meltdown, and I anticipate that will continue for at least the next 18 months before we start seeing a turnaround. So it will be 2010-11 before we start seeing the sun shine. In the meantime, I anticipate a lot of pain for the California State University.

I have begun to do what we did in 2003-05 which is to meet every month with all of our presidents, because we need that time to anticipate and try to plan for all of the economic changes and conditions at the national or state level.

I have asked all the presidents and our senior leadership in the Chancellor’s Office to assist me to look at all of the different options before us because we are obviously going to have to reduce our budget. My goal is to keep and save all of the positions we possibly can to serve our students because our number one goal will be to serve all of the students with as high quality as we possibly can.

I anticipate that everybody in this room and out there (in the public) is going to have to come together to put their shoulders behind the CSU. We need to continue the Alliance because we need to make sure that the Governor and Legislature know the value of the California State University to the workforce and economy, just as some of our speakers said. Now is the time for us to be as strong advocates as we can possibly be.

Stimulus Bill

It is not all bad news. First, the stimulus bill that was passed by the Congress about a month ago does help us. I don’t think it will help to the extent that we can overcome the “trigger” of $10 billion in Sacramento, so that means we will take another $50 million cut on top of where we are. However, the bill recognizes the most needy students in this country.

The CSU is the largest Pell recipient in the United States. We have calculated that our Pell students - some 125,000 students - will receive $81 million more. Next year the Pell grants will go to $5,500 per student from $5,350, and that will mean another $21 million. So we are going to receive more than $100 million in the next 18-20 months for our students. So that’s good news for the CSU.

Our California Congressional delegation knew what they were doing. If you happen to see (Representatives) George Miller and Nancy Pelosi, thank them. They really did know what they were doing to help students. As a matter of fact, that (increase) was put in the House bill and when it went to the Senate and conference committee there were no changes to the Pell awards.

Second is work study. We have about 1,800 students on work study. We are going to be able to add 3,000-4,000 more work study students. They will be able to earn about $2,500 per year while they are going to college. So there is some good news out there as we go about our business.

Outreach

Last month, all the presidents and many, many members of the CSU family including many students joined me for Super Sunday. Two hundred CSU people touched a hundred thousand families during the two weekends. We attended 71 African American churches throughout California.

I have made a commitment next year to expand to 100 or more churches during the four weekends in February. We will expand the program to churches in San Diego, San Bernardino and the San Joaquin Valley.

Bishop Blake, who helped me start this effort, said four years ago, “Charlie, I’m going to help you out. But we don’t want to just see you one time.” So we have made an effort to be accountable to all the ministers.

I met last week with all the northern and southern California ministers who help us. I was able to report to them that since we started this program we have seen a 20 percent increase of African American students enrolled. Nearly 4,000 more students are attending the CSU today than in 2004 (2004: 18,428; 2008 - 22,167 = 3,739 = 20 percent).

We can’t give up, we can’t quit. Bishop Blake said we can do more. So we are going to try to do more this summer. In addition to our Super Saturday events at the campuses, which include family members with the students getting advice about when to apply and how to get financial aid, we will run northern and southern California algebra I and II workshops as a pilot program in the churches.

In addition, we will continue to reach out to Latino community. We’ve seen a 15 percent increase in Latino admissions since we started the PIQE program. We are also talking with the Catholic churches about seeing if can do Super Sunday events in their churches to reach Latino families. We will also continue to work with the Asian communities, and of course with our veterans.

Veterans

We anticipate a huge increase in our Troops to College program with the new GI Bill. We’re not exactly satisfied with how the GI Bill is structured. It seems that the reward is that the more costly your college, the more money you get. We want to serve as many veterans as we can but for Penn State to get $17,000 per veteran and CSU to gets $3,000 per student for the same veteran we do not think is fair. I know that (San Diego State President) Steve Weber and (CSU Long Beach President) King Alexander are working on this.

We have really built a very good partnership with all the military in California. General Leonard at Camp Pendleton has been a real leader.

I want to commend all of our presidents. We’ve done something unique in this country: all 23 of our campuses have set aside five, free open admission slots per campus (115 system-wide). The base commanders can select any military person exiting the service to attend any one of the CSUs. It is interesting to me that they are so careful – their standards are probably higher than our standards because they want no failures.

In addition San Diego also has set up an off-campus center at Miramar Air Base for the marines and offers courses at night and on the weekends.

At CSU San Bernardino, they have a unique partnership with Fort Irwin Army base. Almost all of the troops that are being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan have to go through Ft. Irwin. The base has built a community that looks like a community in Iraq or Afghanistan.

CSU San Bernardino is doing two unique things: the journalism program has sent our students to that base to be “embedded” with the troops. Our reporters are getting practice about being journalists and the troops are learning how to live with journalists as a part of their efforts in those countries.

In addition to that, CSUSB for a number of years has been offering Arabic courses. So the Ft. Irwin general has asked the campus if they would offer Arabic language courses to their troops at Ft. Irvin, and we are going to do that.

Washington, D.C.

Earlier this month, we had our traditional visit to Washington, D.C., where the CSU convened for its annual “Hill Day.” I would have to say that this was the most successful visit yet that CSU has had since I have been here. We had more than 200 people attend our reception, including 13 members of Congress; that is the most ever.

During two days, our presidents and staff members visited with the entire California delegation. We have really been beneficiaries. I know some people don’t like this, but I feel that there will be earmarks as long as they are making appropriations, so we might as well get ours. We were successful in the earmarks that our members of Congress did for us.

I was privileged to be invited by the new Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to meet with him and his staff in his office. He also invited me to be on his television show, so we had a good and productive time there.

CIRM

I want to thank Trustee Achtenberg for something that she helped the entire CSU with; it took a lot of encouragement and “stick-to-it-ness.”

About three years ago, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) first received resources through a bond amendment to do stem cell research. Roberta and I went to Oakland to meet at their first office.We talked to them about funding the California State University to help build the diverse workforce that the industry needs.

I am pleased to say that two weeks ago the board met and awarded the CSU $16 million to build a workforce of biotechnology professionals, including developing and enhancing our Professional Science Master’s programs to serve the Ph.D. scientists and the labs that will be doing this work. This state faces a shortage of trained technicians in stem cell laboratories, so these funds will assist our campuses as we work to prepare the workforce of the future.

One final item to end on a good note:

Everybody in the United States met, knows, has seen or remembers Sully Sullenberger. Well, I didn’t know that he would touch the CSU also. Sully was the pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River and everyone walked away safely.

The week before the flight he had checked out a book that was from the Fresno State library. Well, the problem was that book was in the cargo hold of the plane. Wouldn’t you know this: Sully contacts the Fresno State library to see if he could get an extension and waiver of the overdue fees.

I’ll have to give (Fresno State President) John Welty credit – John not only waived all the fees, even a lost book fee, he put a template in the replacement book in the brand new library in Sully’s name. I think that’s a good story.

Vice Chair Carter that concludes my report. Thank you.