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Report of the Chair

Remarks by Lou Monville
Chair, CSU Board of Trustees
Report to the Board of Trustees
Long Beach, CA
May 25, 2016

Welcome to the twelfth installment of Lou Monville presents… the CSU Chair’s Report. On today’s episode: some reflection and a lot of gratitude.

One of the highlights for me – as trustee and as chair of this august body – is hearing about the incredible work of our university community… and then relaying those stories to others.

I’m convinced that it is impossible to relay the totality of how the California State University benefits the people and communities of California. It simply cannot be done.

No matter how proudly we speak about the university, there is always another layer of incredible work for the public benefit:

  • Another student’s life forever changed by a faculty member.
  • Another successful alumna who was connected to her first job by a university staff member.
  • Another community shaped by the vision and passion of a president.
  • And another California resident saved by technology that the CSU helped pioneer.

Many organizations talk about the ripples of their actions… we are making waves.

That brings me to two stories relayed to this board in past reports.

First, the chancellor shared just last month about the detection of gravitational waves… a historic discovery… with professors, students and alumni from Fullerton, Humboldt and Sonoma joining peers around the world… scientists who all played significant roles in the discovery.

And among the waves of Mediterranean – last year – the students and crew of the Cal Maritime T.S. Golden Bear aided a vessel off the coast of Spain.

The small boat, with nine Algerian refugees onboard, approached the Cal Maritime ship.

The students and crew acted with tremendous professionalism and kindness as they assessed the security situation, identified the needs of the refugees, and went above and beyond in providing for them until the authorities arrived.

This was not the first time that the students and crew of the T.S. Golden Bear acted courageously to rescue a stranded vessel… nor will it be the last.

These two stories… without question… demonstrate a global reach.

And we heard another example yesterday in the Model United Nations presentation… with the countless alumni who have gone on to serve our state, nation and world as intelligence and military officers, diplomats, attorneys and investigators.

We talk about humility as a virtue… perhaps for an individual it is… but, for our university, the virtue is to be bold – brash even – in the telling of who we are and why we matter.

We aren’t causing ripples, we’re making waves.

On the topic of making – or in this case, riding – waves.

Cal State Channel Islands student Austin Finley recently won the National Scholastic Surfing Association’s California State Championship… finishing first in the College Men’s Division... and in the process, beating out around 180 other surfers from universities and colleges across the state.

This is my last time to celebrate a student athlete as chair, so you know I had to make this one righteous

Austin now moves on to the National Championship in June… held in Huntington Beach.

If Austin has the time between now and June, he might want to take a trip down to the Surf Lab at Cal State San Marcos, a cutting-edge student-faculty research center placed at the nexus of kinesiology, recreation and industry innovation.

Riding the wave is an apt analogy for being a trustee. You are riding on the powerful forces of this immense university. There are moments of incredible beauty and amazement… commencement… punctuated by a few moments of absolute terror… budget.

In my time on the CSU Board of Trustees, I have learned from great people who showed tremendous grace under this pressure. People who were humble in their personal interactions, but bold in their dreams.

I would count each of my colleagues currently on the board in that group. As well as all of the presidents here today.

I would also like to remember some of those who came before us and served with distinction:

  • Charlie Reed… my motivator. He showed true grit and determination… never letting anything get in the way of the best interests of the students.
  • Bob Linscheid… my friend. He and I supported each other as the newbies on the board. Who knew at the time that we would both one day serve as chair.
  • Bill Hauck and Pete Mehas… my mentors. We lost their wisdom too soon… They were giants in their fields… with incredible knowledge of policy and the intricacies of this system. I learned so much by simply observing their actions and hearing their discussions.
  • Herb Carter and Roberta Achtenberg… my guides. Two individuals who always reminded us why we are here and whom we serve. They cared deeply for students, faculty and staff… and they deftly led those of us who came after them…

    …I’ll add Debra to this list, though of course she continues to serve on the board.

    Debra and I went through Senate confirmation together. We were in the trenches together then and ever since. And I can tell you that Debra is the best person to have by your side when things get tough.
  • Last but not least, those who have inspired me every step of the way – our student trustees. I can think of many inspirational students who have served in the past, including Andrew LeFlamme and Ian Ruddell

Kelsey, I can tell you that you stand among the very best to serve in this role. Kelsey sent out a graduation invitation that quoted novelist R.S. Grey… she believed she could, so she did… and yes, Kelsey, you have. Congratulations!

Maggie… you are in tremendous company in all those who have previously held the role of student trustee. And you have demonstrated great strength and leadership in your time on the board. So, to you and to all your CSSA colleagues, thank you.

I too started my time with the CSU system by serving in CSSA. So I hope all the students here continue to stay involved… and someday return to this room… serving alongside the next generation of student leaders.

And my tremendous respect to Steve and all those who preceded him in the role of faculty trustee. It is not easy to serve as the conduit for 25,000 faculty. You have a powerful voice and you use it to great effect… informing this board and shaping our policy discussion. So, to you and your Academic Senate colleagues, thank you.

To my Alumni Council colleagues, Dia and Aaron in particular, thank you for your tremendous support over these past two years… and allowing me to participate in the Class of 3 Million. I know that – with your assistance – John Nilon will be an incredible trustee and champion of our alumni… and of our students as future alumni.

I must also recognize Becky EisenBecky, it has been a privilege to serve with you. It is truly exciting to think of what you will accomplish in your time as chair. And apologies in advance for the fact that your retirement comes with a full-time job for the CSU… Dia knows how that goes.

The upside of being chair is that you’ll get to work with an amazing team.

Loren, Steve, Fram, Larry, Garrett and Lori… I appreciate everything you and your staff have done for me… and the incredible time and attention spent on ensuring that the chair and the board are informed and educated on all the policy areas that affect our university. And there are a lot of them.

To the staff of the Trustees’ Secretariat and Executive Office… Thank you! You each contribute to the success of this board and of the CSU as a whole in so many ways… often moving behind the scenes without recognition… so today, I want to recognize all that you do.

To our two Executive Writerswho are both giving me the wrap it up sign… at least in their heads… thank you for the amazing research and stories… and for keeping us all on track.

And leading this talented team, thank you Tim… You came to the CSU with your own story of how this university shaped your destiny. I can tell you now that the story has come full circle.

You have shaped countless lives of students and alumni, of faculty and staff. You are an inspirational and consequential leader.

To… most importantly… Elizabeth… and to my children… thank you for the patience shown over the last two years. It is hard to be a parent in a young family – while working full-time and serving in a full-time volunteer leadership role. It is even harder to be the spouse of that person.

For every mess I left for you to clean up… for every activity I missed… and for every time I was too tired to help or to play… sorry and thank you for being so understanding and supportive.

Now… for the last time… that concludes my report.

Chancellor White?