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Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White - May 31, 2018

Remarks by Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
CSU Foundation Board of Governor’s Retreat
Carlsbad, California
May 31, 2018


Thank you Ron and Garrett for the invitation to be here today.

Thank you to Lori for the great review of the Foundation’s role and history.

And thank you to Kristin for leading the upcoming strategy session.

Past, Present, Future…

The ability to drive change rests on understanding those three elements.

I say drive change because we are all called to action. And Kristin’s upcoming session will look at setting the course for the Foundation…

My contribution to that conversation is to restate the role of the California State University, highlight many ways that individual board members are contributing to the CSU, and suggest some additional areas of focus.

To begin, let me restate the CSU’s role.

We are the engine that made prosperity possible in California.

We are the ladder that enabled millions to rise.

We are the first and best path toward a more equal and just society.

We are key to California’s future.

We exist as a public university because California needs educated people… a lot of them. Our social and economic fabric depends on the knowledge, tools, skills and experiences gained as students pursue a bachelor’s degree. Without a properly funded and robust public university, California will fall into decline. With a sufficiently, predictably and stably funded and robust public university, California thrives.

And the Graduation Initiative is our next step in that public mission. It sets up where we are going as a university. It creates a clear path for every student, at every level of preparedness, and from every socioeconomic background.

And the Graduation Initiative sets a clear path for the future of California… a future that will depend on the hard techniques and soft skills gained in a university setting.

The CSU is an amazing place because we empower change... for the individual, for the society and for the economy.

And each of you effect change at our university.

George and Judy funded the Athletics Performance Center at San Francisco State and have made major gifts to the International Center for the Arts, Center for Modern Greek Studies, the Cinema Department and Documentary Film Institute.

Ron and the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation supports the Summer Undergraduate Research Program for agribusiness students… out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Kristin and SchoolsFirst Credit Union supports the Cal State Fullerton Center for Creativity and Critical Thinking in Teacher Education.

Michael serves on the President’s Council at Cal State LA… and, with Debe, has endowed a scholarship for students majoring in Accounting.

Those are clear actions that support the change at our university. And I am sure that is a small sample… that each of you contribute in numerous other ways.

So, as you explore new ways to effect change, or engage with CSU partners, consider these three areas.

First… support for faculty creativity… whether it is course redesign, creation of new academic innovations or stretch courses that cover related material over more than one term.

Second… support for professional development… providing tools and mentoring to fuel innovation in teaching and learning.

Third… support and spread our message… be the ambassador that brings the accomplishments of the university into daily life and discussions among California’s influencers… electeds and electors.

And as our ambassador… I want you to know and see the change in the CSU community that I do.

Indeed, I wish that you too could be there when I visited the Meta Labat Cal State Northridge.

The lab is a student-led computer software development hub with actual clients… both from the university and surrounding community. The lab gives students opportunities to explore tracks in user interface design, front and back-end development, infrastructure operations and marketing.

But, the most extraordinary thing about the lab is the collaboration across the tracks… driven by client needs. This is as close to career-level, corporate-world experience you can get… short of a full-time career-level job.

This program is also one of many interdisciplinary directed research ventures in the CSU…

Whether it is American River Ecosystem program at Sacramento State… a program that engages undergraduates in critical data collection and analysis… furthering our understanding of a waterway that is absolutely central to California.

… Or the ZIP Launchpad at San Diego State, which serves as a training ground and booster for emerging engineers and entrepreneurs.

… And, of course… multi-campus, interdisciplinary centers like the CSU Institute for Palliative Care… that is coordinated just down the road, at Cal State San Marcos… exploring new frontiers in how we respond to managed, long-term and chronic health conditions.

You’ll hear more mañana from Jennifer Ballentine.

Innovative programs like these are part of how we define change and success through the Graduation Initiative.

These immersive experiences show tremendous potential to engage students in learning… invest them in academic success… and graduate.

And I will let you in on a well-kept secret…

The CSU is a powerhouse of applied knowledge and directed research. That is a big part of what defines our undergraduate and graduate experience.

In fact…

I want you to turn to page 19 of that 2018 Fact Book in front of you.

Look at how much the CSU generates in externally funded research, scholarship and creative activities.

Do you think that the California public or leadership knows that we bring nearly $600 million in external funding to solve our state’s most pressing directed-research problems?

CSU researchers and students are the ones in the field and in the community putting research to work.

Now, turn back to page 5, where you can see the massive impact we have on the state’s workforce. One in ten California employees… $17 billion in economic activity!

That’s huge.

The irony is that our massive impact in some ways makes our story harder to tell.

We are ubiquitous.

The CSU is so much bigger and much more impactful than any of us can truly wrap our minds around. The scale is absolutely mind-boggling.

So, the other handout in front of you brings the CSU down to scale… shrinking of our student population of nearly half a million to just 100 people.

And out of that 100 students…

  • 33 are first generation
  • 95 are California residents
  • 62 receive enough non-loan aid to fully cover tuition…
  • And 46 receive enough non-loan aid to fully cover tuition and student fees

How different reality can be from perception.

That is why the CSU needs active ambassadors.

So, I want you to have these tools at your disposal. I want you to feel more confident as a CSU ambassador and change agent.

Let’s take the remainder of this session to discuss what you need.

I will start with these three questions as prompts…

  • How frequently are you approached by a friend or colleague with a question about the CSU?
  • Did you know the answer to that question?
  • Did you know where to go to find the answer?