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Report of the Chair

Remarks by Rebecca D. Eisen
Chair, California State University Board of Trustees
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting
Long Beach, CA
September 21, 2016

Before I begin my report, I want to welcome our newest student trustee, Jorge Reyes Salinas…

Trustee Salinas is pursuing his master’s degree in communication studies from CSUN… after receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2015.

Jorge, care to share a few words?

My sister and I, when we were young, once got into an argument about – of all things – which month was the first month of the year.

Being older and wiser, I of course, said that January was the first month of the year. But my sister – all of 8 years old – was quite adamant – September, she said, was clearly the first month of the year. September? Where do you get that, I asked? Everyone knows September is the first month of the year, she said – that’s when school starts!

Looking back, I now think she was onto something. Certainly there is something exhilarating about September and the start of school – a sense of “new beginnings.” And that is clearly the feeling we have this September – with 5 new presidents – all being emphatically embraced by their campuses.

And with 18 other campuses joining in our renewed Graduation Rate initiative with a whole raft of creative out of the box programming being developed and utilized up and down the CSU to help us move that needle.

I’ve been lucky to spend time on 3 of the campuses since we last met. Just yesterday I was at Fullerton.... where President Garcia arranged a series of amazing conversations for me with community members, faculty, staff and students.

Last week, I was at Sonoma State where President Sakaki took me on a tour of the striking and moving exhibit of Japanese Internment Camps, which her own family knew all too well.

And finally, a month ago I visited Bakersfield, where I saw an actual “roadrunner,” a High Speed Rail simulator, and where this photo in the Bakersfield Californian caught my eye.

It shows President Mitchell with his wife, Barbara, on their wedding day… and their just celebrated 50th wedding anniversary. And this past July marked twelve years since President Mitchell became president at Bakersfield.

Congratulations… on both anniversaries.

While I was at Bakersfield, the terrific Summer Olympics were winding down. They were so much fun to watch for us, knowing of the long and historic connection between the CSU and the Olympics.

Just in 2014, our incomparable alum Billie Jean King from Cal State LA was appointed by President Obama to represent the U.S. in the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

This year, in addition to the many coach, officials and trainers from the CSU, 7 additional CSU alums competed for Team USA:

  • Whitney Ashley – San Diego State – Women’s discus throw
  • Colton Brown – San Jose State – Men’s Judo
  • Paul George – Fresno State – gold medalist in Men’s Basketball
  • David Lee – Long Beach – bronze medalist in Men’s Volleyball
  • Marti Malloy – San Jose State – Women’s Judo
  • Kasey Perry-Glass – Sacramento State – bronze medalist in equestrian dressage
  • Kim Rhode – Cal Poly Pomona – bronze medalist in skeet shooting… Kim is the first woman ever to medal in six Olympic Games.

And five CSU alums from Fullerton, Northridge, Sacramento and San Luis Obispo competed this year for their native countries of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Puerto Rico, Great Britain and Bulgaria…

They are:

  • Josh Akognon
  • Hafsatu Kamara
  • Lynda Morales
  • Joe Joyce, and
  • Boris Novachkov

And finally, alums from Northridge and Dominguez Hills… Katie Holloway and David Garza… and former San José State goalkeeper Sean Boyle… competed at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Quite a year. I wanted to mention one particularly memorable part that CSU played in Olympic history –

This photo is of the famous moment in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City where alums of San Jose State – John Carlos and Tommie Smith – gave what they have called a "human rights salute" on the platform after winning gold and bronze in the 200 meter race.

Some will remember that these athletes were part of a very famous track and field program at San Jose State that had earned that campus the name Speed City.

Over 29 years, that program produced 102 All Americans and 27 Olympians.

But in 1988 because of “budget restrictions,” the program was disbanded.

We were all so excited then to hear that as of this fall, San Jose State will have a new track and field program. Thank you and congratulations for a great first day on the job to President Mary Papazian.

I also want to mention three other campuses where enormous contributions are being made to the science of – to put it bluntly – saving our planet.

Humboldt State: We all know that in the fields of forestry and wildlife conservation, Humboldt’s programming, research and scholarship are truly without peer in the United States.

In 2013, for example, Humboldt alum Bill Stanley actually discovered a new species of mammal – something that certainly doesn’t happen every day. He named it the “Hero Shrew,” in honor of his fellow alum and the former collections manager at Humboldt State’s Vertebrate Museum, Thorvald Holmes.

And you also may not know that Humboldt students participate virtually every year on a “Quiz Bowl” team sponsored by the Wildlife Society.

A few recent quiz bowl questions:

What biogeographical areas are separated by Wallace’s Line?

The answer: Southeast Asia and Australia.

And – my personal favorite – What is the most common mating system in birds?

The answer: Monogamy.

Last November the Humboldt team crushed the competition in Winnipeg and won their 11th title. We will anxiously await news as to how they fare this coming year.

Cal Poly Pomona deserves mention for its work in agriculture science. This year they unveiled a new research “greenhouse” – focused on breeding a very special type of wasp – Tamarixia Radiata.

Why – because that wasp is the antidote to a pest called the Asian citrus psyllid which is currently crippling the citrus industry in Florida and threatening the same industry here in California. Citrus is a $2 Billion industry and Cal Poly Pomona, partnering with the California Department of Food and Agriculture – is on the case.

Finally, while we’re talking about creatures, I could not miss the opportunity to congratulate Stanislaus State for sponsoring this year’s World Lagomorph Conference – a gathering of scientists and researchers from 23 countries, all experts in lagomorphs… the mammal order that includes rabbits, hares and pikas.

Biology professor Patrick Kelly – who leads the Endangered Species Recovery Program at Stan State – is himself an expert on a threatened local species – the riparian brush rabbit.

And while a bunny conference sounds like just plain fun, the protection of Endangered Species is clearly topical.

Some of you may have read, as I did, that as our very hot summer ended, a rare species of marsupial existing only in Australia was the first documented case ever of wildlife extinction tied directly to climate change.

So this kind of applied, hands-on, student-centric and timely research – the kind of work at which the CSU truly excels – will certainly help.

I can’t end without mentioning the automobile industry.

Why? Because as a result of aggressive regulations, they have been tasked with increasing their mpg rate—currently at around 25 mpg—to more than double that rate—54.5 mpg by 2025. Sound familiar? We too of course have agreed today that we will more than double our four year graduation rate also by the year 2025… and cut our achievement gap to zero.

I wanted to point out two important aspects of this aggressive challenge to the automobile industry. First, it has spawned an avalanche of innovation. Rivets are being replaced with glue. Solar panels are being added to car rooftops. Lighter magnesium is replacing steel and aluminum. And I could go on… if I knew anything about cars… which I don’t.

But second, innovation is not free. It is estimated that the cost of achieving this industry goal is going to be significant.

It simply cannot be done without resources.

Similarly, we are proposing a $75 million investment of state dollars this coming year and are planning similar amounts for the following 5 years to help us achieve OUR goals.

This $75 million is 2.5 percent of the allocation and investment California currently makes in the CSU. I think we can all agree – this investment by the state is reasonable, timely, worthwhile and frankly necessary.

I look forward to working with all of you to see that our request is granted.

One last congratulations to Trustee Maggie White… who graduated this summer from Stanislaus State with a BA in Communication Studies… and she is now already in her master’s program.

Congratulations, Maggie.

That concludes my report. Chancellor White?