Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White - January 19, 2018

Remarks by Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
University Presidents' Conference
Tainan, Taiwan
January 19, 2018

I want to thank you and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office for your hospitality and graciousness in planning this trip… and throughout our time here.

And particularly I would like to acknowledge Dr. Yao, the political deputy minister who we visited with earlier this week in Taipei at the ministry and also Peters Chen and Victoria Wong for taking such good care of us this week.

Thank you Chairman Lee for that kind introduction, and to your colleagues here at Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology for your hospitality and graciousness in hosting the conference.

And oh my, you are first in the world when it comes to last evening's reception. Thanks for including us, and my wife, Dr. Karen White … we had a great time. It's very clear that you enjoy each other and it's those relationships that really do matter in our world university leaders.

And I want to thank all the presidents and fellow higher education leaders that are here today in this room.

You do me… and the California State University… a great honor by spending your time with us… and by asking critical questions about how we can bring our universities… and our peoples… closer together.

Perhaps one of the most well-known images of California is of a bridge…

The Golden Gate Bridge… an apt symbol as it connects two lands separated by a vast channel of water…

… this bridge is appropriately placed in the City of San Francisco... since San Francisco itself serves as a bridge among many of the world's cultures…

… and serving this dynamic city is San Francisco State University… a pioneer and leader in so many areas of academia, including cultural and ethnic studies.

Indeed... universities can also serve as bridges… bridging industries, communities, countries, continents and peoples.

And in partnership with your institutions… the California State University is uniquely positioned as a bridge, by our size… by our educational breadth… and by our unique heritage.

The California State University plays a vital and important role in higher education in California.

It is the largest and most diverse bachelor's and master's-level university in the United States, and we also offer some doctorate degrees. We have been the driver of socioeconomic advancement in California since our creation.

Consistent with our mission to prepare students for a global society and economy, the California State University also enrolls students from around the world… and sends its students to dozens of other countries to study… and has faculty engaged in research collaboration with international colleagues… and has graduates around the world… including more than 3,700 degrees earned by Taiwanese citizens over just the last ten years… 3,700 CSU graduates here in Taiwan.

Indeed, this is a deep and bedrock foundation for our partnership.

Yet, the opportunity here today is to create new bridges to connect California, Taiwan and the entire Pacific Rim… building from our already strong connections in trade, education and culture.

That is why I am so pleased joining me today is Garrett Ashley, our vice chancellor of University Relations and Advancement. Garrett, wave your hand.

Also, Leo Van Cleve, assistant vice chancellor of international and off-campus programs. Leo?

And Dr. Lars Walton, chief of staff and senior advisor.

So afterward, during the break, find them if you'd like to have further conversations about partnerships.

And let me be direct in saying what steps will accomplish our shared goal of bridging a closer relationship:

  • We must create more opportunities for students and faculty to travel… and explore… to learn in each other's universities… to build friendships and professional admiration for those who live just a small ocean apart
  • We must create more opportunities to conduct research… to create works of art… or to explore the human condition in multicultural and multidisciplinary teams
  • We must create more opportunities to collaborate on shared global challenges of famine and poverty, of wealth inequity, population displacement and climate change.

And to achieve these things, we must identify new resources to support our joint endeavors including technology to support collaboration at a distance and travel grants to bring peers together.

I say this because the 23 campuses of the California State University – and the hundreds of colleges and universities represented here today – need partners…

… because our graduates will not be prepared to live or thrive in a global economy without an international perspective.

And because the problems the world faces – and the problems that we will leave behind regrettably for our children to solve – are too great for any single university, city, island, state or nation to overcome alone.

So thank you for indulging this call to action… so early in my comments this morning.

You know, speeches are often places for high rhetoric, big ideas and exuberant optimism but, for me, it is the tangible accomplishments and outcomes that truly matter and carry us forward.

With that in mind then… I return to the California State University's core assets… our size, our educational breadth, and our unique heritage.

Though we have 23 campuses… with nearly a dozen additional major satellite campuses, I think of the California State University as one university…

One university that serves nearly one half million students, employing some 50,000 faculty and staff…

And this one university has a huge geographic reach… stretching almost 800 miles from San Diego State University near the Mexican border at the south up to Humboldt State University near the Oregon border in the north.

In fact …

If you were to place Humboldt alongside Taipei in the North…

… then you would have to continue South, past Manila in the Philippines, to reach San Diego.

That is why I spend a lot of my time working from various airports and airplanes, traveling from campus to campus to get a feel for the daily accomplishments across these vast distances.

And my time with students, faculty and staff has shown me that the reach of the California State University extends far beyond our geographic footprint.

We reach every industry that matters for today's and tomorrow's economy.

The California State University has historically been, and continues to be, the dominant player in teacher education… not only for the state of California but for the United States of America.

It is not hyperbole to say that we have the unique privilege and responsibility of educating those who will educate the next generation and the generations to follow.

Additionally, the CSU produces half or more of the state's bachelor's degrees in engineering, public administration and criminal justice, and nearly half of the degrees in life sciences, nursing, media, culture and design, and three out of every four degrees serving California's iconic agriculture and wine industries, alongside unique programs supporting California's world-renowned hospitality and tourism industries.

And of course, the CSU has many world-class information technology programs powering the success of innovation hubs like the Silicon Valley.

Now listen to this: In total, one in ten employees in California …one in ten earned a bachelor's degree at one of the California State University campuses.

One in Ten!

And when you think about California, if it were to be a nation, it would be the world's sixth-largest economy. And so the CSU is responsible for ten percent of the employees in the world's sixth largest economy. We're very proud of that.

We're also proud of the fact that across the United States, that if you have earned a degree, one in 20 of the degrees across all 50 states is a California State University degree — five percent of America's degree holders.

We think of ourselves with our alumni as sort of a powerhouse. We have nearly 3.5 million living alumni… many of whom live and work in California… but many who also live across the United States and around the world.

I was fortunate to meet more than 400 alumni in this past week, traveling from Hong Kong to Taipei and Tainan.

Yet, when I think of the CSU's uniquely global reach, I cannot help but think of the Training Ship Golden Bear… one of the California State University Maritime Academy…

Every summer the TS Golden Bear crosses into international waters, reaching ports here in Asia, Europe and South America… carrying a complement of 318 students and 56 faculty and crew.

And I can confide in you – as fellow presidents – that it cost about a million dollars US, last time we had to fill up the ship's tanks.

Now, that's the equivalent fuel cost of an airliner making eight round trips between Los Angeles and Taipei.

Yet, standing on the deck of the Golden Bear, it is instantly apparent that this is a unique educational asset serving the entire eastern side of the Pacific Rim…

… and the California State University Maritime Academy occupies a critically important role as a master's-level educational institute specializing in global trade.

In fact, the Maritime Academy trains most of the highly-skilled pilots that navigate the ports of the Western United States…

… while also educating merchant vessel officers and engineers...

… and preparing students for the unique challenges and opportunities of global commerce.

Yet, for all our global outreach, the California State University remains connected and focused by our proud California heritage.

The students of the CSU reflect the diversity of the State of California, because 94 percent of our students are from California's communities.

… and that creates a thrilling mix of people and identities.

Students of Latino or Hispanic heritage are the California State University's largest ethnic group at 40 percent…

But there are 55,000 students of Asian heritage attending the CSU… being our third largest ethnic group at 12 percent of our student body…

Indeed, we have 500 Taiwanese nationals currently attending our campuses… and 2,300 students who are US residents of Taiwanese heritage.

And… the CSU's commitment to diversity is represented in our senior leadership.

Many of the 23 presidents we have shattered barriers of ethnic and gender discrimination. In fact, four of the 23 presidents are of Asian heritage, and two of whom are women, which we're very, very proud of.

Yet, diversity in the California State University is about more than statistics, it is about whether we are engaged in the communities that we serve.

And for a fine example of engagement I look to President Les Wong of San Francisco State. Les is right here with us today with the wonderful First Lady Mrs. Phyllis Wong, as well as Vice President Robert Nava.

President Wong has been honored countless times for his engagement with the Asian community, including being named to the Committee of 100 – alongside many CEOs of Taiwanese heritage who are based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In fact, San Francisco State is an active member of Ascend, the largest, non-profit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals in North America, with a focus on Leadership Development in Silicon Valley.

The campus hosts Ascend's largest student chapter with over 200 members mostly comprised of Business majors.

Now look, I could give dozens of examples from all 23 campuses of how we connect our campuses with the communities they serve and by extension how we connect Californians to cultures that span the globe.

We talk about international cities, cities that occupy a special place in the world, cities that combine a rich history with a dynamic and diversified population and economy, cities that capture the current moment in education, art and ideas.

Cities like Taipei and Tainan…

Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Long Beach…

And it is apparent to me, from my office looking out the windows at the adjoining ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and the massive new towers of the Gerald Desmond Bridge spanning those ports, that California is an international state.

We serve as the gateway, a pillar of the bridge, if you will, that unites the Americas with all of Asia and much of Africa.

And much like California, Taiwan serves as a bridge and a pillar to a system of global economic activity and cultural exchange.

Now look, we may not be the most populous of global players, but listen, as California's population approaches 40 million… and Taiwan's approaches 25 million, we are certainly populous enough to hold our own.

The population figures are not where we draw our strength. We draw it from the ways in which we engage and direct the advancements of the future.

And – to return to my earlier comments – we gain our power from partnerships. Partnerships that we have already forged across the Pacific.

There are many examples, let me give just a few …

San José State University sends students to Taiwan to study your excellent health system, and bring those lessons back to California.

Meanwhile, California Polytechnic State University, in San Luis Obispo, is launching a six-week Environmental Management and Sustainable Development summer program in Taipei and Nantou.

The program is possible because of partnerships with the National Taipei University of Technology and National Chi-Nan University.

Similarly, Cal State San Bernardino has two partnerships, with Tunghai University and National Taiwan Normal University.

And San Diego State University is partnered with National Taiwan University on a dual Master of Business Administration program.

And San Francisco State University has active partnerships with the National Taiwan Sport University and Tamkang University… which by the way, Tamkang University is led by President Flora Chang who is here and who is an alumna of San Francisco State.

In the interest of time, I am not able to share the many other partnerships that are missing from these examples…

… they all are equally important…

… and they all help build the cultural appreciation and competence we expect of our California State University graduates.

So as I close, let me remind us that California State University campuses recognize that not every student can afford to leave their families and their support networks to travel abroad.

And for me… this is one of the biggest reasons I am a passionate advocate for international students who attend the California State Universities.

As I mentioned earlier, 94 percent of our students come from the state California.

But the 6 percent who come from outside the state have an enriching effect on every student's education.

In effect, they bring the world to California.

And, beyond that, some 40 percent of our California students speak a language other than English at home.

That is what I want:

I want students to get the experience of cultural immersion… of being the guest in someone else's worldview… and working through language barriers even if they never have the opportunity to leave California.

That is a tall order, but California's inherent diversity… and our passionate and engaged international students and visiting professors help make that experience a reality.

That is the power of partnerships.

Since the nations surrounding the Pacific are known as the Rim of Fire, I think it is only appropriate that we carry the torch of knowledge, that we light the beacons of peace and prosperity…

… that we illuminate the bridges of partnership.

Thank you again for the opportunity to join you this morning And I welcome questions and partnership ideas that President Wong, vice chancellor Ashley and assistant vice chancellor Van Cleve and I can bring back to our colleagues.

Thank you very much.