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Remarks by Timothy P. White - September 25, 2019

Remarks by Timothy P. White
Chancellor, The California State University
CSU Board of Trustees – Chancellor's Report
Long Beach, California
September 25, 2019

Before I begin, I would like to welcome our new trustees to their first board meeting. Trustees Krinsk and Khames, your insight and unique life experiences will undoubtedly enrich this board, as will your dedication to helping the California State University fulfill its mission for the benefit of all students, as well as this great state. Again, welcome.

One week ago, I had the privilege of addressing a group of educational, business and community leaders from California's Central Valley. The topic was one we grapple with across the CSU, across educational segments and across the state: how do we address capacity constraints to drive social mobility through increased access to and completion in higher education.

I left the Fresno State campus – where the event was held – with a profound sense of optimism. It wasn't as if we had crafted a solution to this complex and pernicious problem over the course of our morning together. Rather, the source of my optimism was the willingness … the enthusiasm … of the Central Valley's educational and business and community leaders to set aside self-interest to work together to elevate the entire region. The Valley's leaders, including our presidents, truly want what's best for the students and families they serve – whether the best fit for a particular student might be at a CSU, a UC, an independent university or a community college. They acknowledge and understand the very real economic challenges this region faces. But more important, they understand the remarkable talents and unrelenting determination of the Central Valley's students – so many of whom are not place-bound, but place-committed … who simply want to earn a high-quality education near their homes… to discover their passions and gain the knowledge and skills to achieve their dreams … and, ultimately, to elevate the families – and the communities – they dearly love.

Indeed, this sort of authentic cooperation and collaboration … across segments and among stakeholders … is essential in developing innovative solutions to education's most vexing issues, whether on a regional, statewide or national level.

That is why I am so pleased – and honored – to have been appointed to Governor Newsom's recently announced Council for Post-Secondary Education. I believe the council shows great promise to be a vital and effective consultative resource for the governor on issues related to access, affordability, student success and completion, and California's future economic prosperity.

For years, the public education sectors have demonstrated a willingness to work together for the benefit of all California students, whether it's developing transfer pathways from the state's community colleges, advocating for more robust financial aid or addressing students' basic needs.

On this point, I want to quickly acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of UC President Janet Napolitano who – as I am sure most of you are aware – announced last week that she will be stepping down at the end of the academic year. Her intellect, vision and willingness to engage with all stakeholders to expand educational opportunities for all Californians will be greatly missed.

The governor's council that Janet and I among others are on provides a new coordinating body for these sorts of longstanding collaborations, and adds important voices representing economic development, finance and labor, as well as the independent colleges and universities.

This is a significant integration. Higher education is an ecosystem … and now we'll have all the key components of this ecosystem gathered around one table. With all the stakeholders present, the discussions will perhaps become more complicated, but, ultimately, they will be richer and more valuable, leading to more innovative, more comprehensive and more actionable solutions.

I sense a new energy. One that will keep the council from becoming mired in the age-old and ineffectual debate over the role of higher education – whether it's to promote an educated citizenry or to provide our students with the knowledge and skills they need for professional success.

Of course, it is both.

See how quickly that debate can be resolved?

We want our students to be civically engaged, productive members of their communities. And we want them to have a good job … to be nimble, versatile and creative problem solvers, able to adapt to the changing future of work and to create a new future of work … to be scientifically and financially literate and culturally competent … to have all the skills and personal qualities that set them on a course for lifelong achievement.

I am confident that the members of the council are of like mind in this regard.

And I am pleased that we have system and institutional leaders on the council. Ideas that show potential for moving the needle can be taken directly to our respective governance structures for consideration and appropriate action … not to override systems of shared governance or the authority of this board, of course, but to prevent potential solutions from becoming bogged down in bureaucracy.

So, I think it's the right construct to advise the governor on bold and innovative ideas that serve current and future students, as well as the state. And, importantly, I think California has the right governor in place to contribute to and act on such bold ideas.

As you all know, Governor Newsom and the legislature have made a strong investment in higher education and the CSU in this year's budget. And he has a clear and vital vision for the future of public higher education in California.

I am pleased that Governor Newsom will be outlining that vision for us as part of the CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025 Symposium, held October 17th and 18th in Sacramento. The governor's participation in the symposium is another concrete example of his commitment to the CSU, and I encourage you to attend. In addition to the governor's remarks, the symposium provides an important opportunity to reflect on our university's most significant student success initiative … to identify what's working and what's not, and where adjustments need to be made … and to gather with educational leaders from the CSU and beyond to share best practices and think deeply about innovative ways we can help all our students – regardless of income, background, gender, race, ethnicity or status – achieve their academic, personal and professional goals.

I hope to see you there.

Before I conclude, I wish to acknowledge Leroy Morishita, president of Cal State East Bay, who announced his intention to retire in June 2020.

The way I see it, Leroy, this gives us nine months to change your mind.

Kidding aside, we will miss Leroy's constant professionalism, institutional knowledge and kind, positive spirit. We will properly thank him later, and look forward to his wise counsel and leadership until then.

Chairman Day, that concludes my report.​