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Remarks by Dr. Charles B. Reed – November 19, 2008

​Chancellor, California State University
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting
November 19, 2008

Thank you, Chair Bleich.

In the interest of time, I will not give my report here but will ask people to read it on our website and in the board minutes.

All I want to say right now is that the CSU Alliance, the CSU family all must work together in this budgetary crisis. No one in this room is the enemy.

It is the Legislature that we have to aim our messages at. They need to understand that the CSU is an investment that they have to make. They need to support the Governor's request to raise revenue…the Legislature has to do that. The Governor has suggested revenue (tax) increases of $4.7 billion, and the lawmakers need to act on that.

Chair Bleich that is my shortened report. I was going to say some nice things about people in this room, and everyone can go online to see that. Thank you.

(Written remarks follow):

As Chair Bleich just said, and as we heard earlier during the Finance and Education Policy committees and also from our speakers, these are grim times for our students and campuses.

I am not going to repeat what I said earlier, but let me just summarize by saying these next few years will be difficult for everyone.

My hope is that we can all come together as one, like we did last year, and advocate with one voice for the CSU.

It will not help our cause if people go in different directions…we all need to be on the same page, repeating the same message that adequately funding higher education is crucial to getting our economy back on track.

  • Our 92,000 CSU graduates are what power this economy
  • We return $4.41 dollars for every dollar the state invests in the CSU
  • We have an annual economic impact of $14 billion dollars.

Those are the important facts that people need to know and remember.

California is not alone in this budget crisis - universities across the country are being drastically cut as states try to deal with the slumping economy. The demand for higher education is getting stronger, just as our state and national economy is getting weaker.

That is why it is critical that we work together. Let's remember that as we move forward to provide access to our campuses. Let's keep students first.

Higher Ed Survey

Last week the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released its second higher education survey.

Like last year, the CSU, UC and the community colleges received high marks for quality. On the other hand, the public doesn't want to pay to maintain that quality.

That is the challenge we are facing.

Californians see higher education as important to the future of their children and the state. But when it comes to paying, they hide their wallets. Eighty-three percent (83%) of residents are concerned that the state's budget crisis will lead to significant cuts in funding for higher education. Fifty-four percent (54%) say spending for public colleges and universities should be a high or very high priority.

Yet - and this is the big problem - fifty-two percent (52%) are unwilling to pay higher taxes. Sixty-two percent (62%) are against increasing student fees to avoid cuts. Fifty-three percent (53%) want the state to spend more money to avoid increasing tuition and fees - even if it means less money for other state programs.

Where is this money supposed to come from?

This is frustrating. People in California want higher education for their children and grandchildren, they want their roads repaired, they want all kinds of services, but they are not willing to pay for any of it.

Plus, just twelve percent (12%) have confidence in the state's ability to plan for the future of the higher education system.

Another issue that is frustrating is that survey respondents think that qualified students from low-income families have less opportunity than others to get a college education.

We all know that many of these students qualify for Pell Grants, and Cal Grants and our State University Grants.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of parents say they lack financial aid information. Sixty-one percent (61%) of Latinos and sixty-three percent (63%) of parents with household incomes of less than $40,000 say they lack this information.

We need to keep getting that message out to these communities that financial help is available.

A few other findings from the survey:
  • Thirty- five percent (35%) of all political, regional, and demographic groups say cost is the most important one facing higher education.
  • Most Californians favor expanding work-study opportunities, increasing money for scholarships, and establishing a sliding scale for tuition and fees so that college is more affordable.
  • Seventy-one percent (71%) of parents of children ages 18 and younger say that students have to borrow too much money to go to college. Most are worried about their own ability to afford a college education for their youngest child.
  • Sixty-eight percent (68%) say college is necessary and just 30 percent say there are many other ways to succeed.
  • Eighty-four percent (84%) of Latinos place a particularly high value on college. They are more likely than Asians, blacks, or whites to view a college education as essential.
  • Sixty-seven percent (67%) think that in 20 years the economy will need more college-educated workers than the state can produce.

Summarizing the survey:

Californians respect the job we are doing and know that the state needs a college-educated workforce, but they don't want to pay for it…something has to change in this state.

In Brief: Even in bad times, we do have some bright spots.

HACU & AASCU

Last month Cal State Fullerton President Milt Gordon was elected chair of the governing board of HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) at HACU's 22nd annual conference in Denver. HACU represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), where Latinos constitute at least 25 percent of the student population. Twelve (12) CSU campuses are members. Tomás Arciniega was also re-elected to the HACU Board of Directors, and Ruben Armiñana was elected as a Region I Representative.

Also, Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester was elected President-elect of AASCU (American Association of State Colleges and Universities).

These appointments are a testament to how well the CSU is viewed nationally.

Other Honors

Cal State LA President Jim Rosser received a Lifetime Achievement Award from The 100 Black Men of Los Angeles for his commitment to education, diversity and excellence.

Cal State Channel Islands President Richard Rush was named to the new Higher Education Cabinet formed by the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education to identify trends and conduct frank discussions about the pressing issues facing higher education.

Humboldt State President Rollin Richmond has been named to the Board of Directors of the California Council on Science and Technology.

San Francisco State President Bob Corrigan was featured in a cover story in the San Francisco Examiner celebrating his 20th anniversary as president. He also was inducted into the University of Massachusetts, Boston's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Palm Desert Campus

Congratulations to San Bernardino President Al Karnig and his staff for last month's opening of the fourth building of the Palm Desert campus. This is the Health Sciences building. Nurses and other health professionals will be trained there, and we all know that our health care system needs these future graduates.

What is particularly impressive is that this building - and the entire campus - has been built without state funds!

The money has come from individuals, desert cities, foundations and other local entities. In these tight budget times, we really appreciate these groups stepping up to the plate and recognizing the value of higher education.

Gates Foundation

I attended a meeting in Seattle to listen to Bill and Melinda Gates announce that they will spend $3 billion over five years from their foundation to help low-income students complete a college degree.

It is an ambitious program that will be targeted mostly at community colleges. We will stay tuned to these efforts and continue to work with them to include universities in their funding.

Active Duty Students

As Chair Bleich mentioned, we will be providing guaranteed admission for fall 2009 to 115 active duty and veterans from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard and Navy at our campuses.

These men and women have served the country with honor and distinction, and we are confident that they will succeed at the CSU. I want to say thank you to President Steve Weber and San Diego State, which launched the idea with five active duty Marines selected as candidates for admission. All 23 CSU presidents will be implementing a similar program to reserve five slots for active duty and veterans to enroll at their campus.

This program is tied to the Governor's Troops to College initiative and is another next step in our continuing effort to provide a clear path to college for our troops and veterans.

In another note about the military, congratulations to Fresno State. Its Air Force ROTC was named the best mid-sized unit in the country. It was awarded the Right of Line Award for "Best Detachment in the Nation" in the medium-size category.

Chair Bleich that concludes my report. Thank you.