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Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White February 2, 2018

Remarks by Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
CSU Entertainment Alliance – Advisory Council Meeting
January 29, 2018

Thank you all for coming… and thank you for your dedication to the students of the California State University.

I especially want to thank Robert Ramirez and Netflix for hosting us today…

Not many people know this, but I’m on Netflix… from my starring role on an episode of the hit TV show, Undercover Boss.

Now, I don’t know how far you’ll need to scroll down the Netflix app… but you can find my episode under the category, University Chancellors with Bad Fake Mustaches.

At the last CSU Entertainment Alliance meeting I attended, I jotted down my own Letterman-style Top 10 list of goals and foci... with a few opportunities that I found interesting.

I’m told that this list – in my handwriting, I must add – was blown up and printed out by CSUEA staff as a sort of North Star for moving forward.

First of all, I’m flattered. If only the rest of my staff would treat my notes and scribbles with the same level of care and consideration. Well done, Dina, Simone, Haley and Michael.

Anyways, I have that Top 10 list in front of me here… and without going through it point by point, I want to commend all of you for your work to help us find Polaris and guide us forward.

I want to especially thank:

  • Trustee Jean Picker Firstenberg… now a member of the CSUEA Advisory Council… for her dedication to the mission of the CSU and CSUEA… and for her family’s generous contributions to support film students at CSUN.
  • Grazia Como from Dreamworks… for offering to develop a new Fellowship Program, expanding on the successful DreamCrits program despite some challenging periods after Dreamworks changed ownership.
  • Ilyanne Morden Kichaven from the Screen Actors Guild… for working with CSUEA to produce a sold-out Actor’s Panel & SAG-AFTRA 101 event at your LA headquarters… and for offering to host us last October.
  • Nancy Robinson from The Television Academy Foundation… for advocating for CSU students as participants in the competitive and prestigious TV Academy Internship Program. Several CSUN and SFSU students were interns in 2017 and one SFSU student went from intern to employee… which is our ultimate goal with this alliance.
  • Juan Rodriguez from Disney Media Networks… for working with CSUEA on developing its new Mentorship Program… for serving as a mentor to CSU Summer Internship students… and for working on developing a new CSUEA-Disney Institute Apprenticeship Program.
  • Kevin Roebuck from Oracle… for working with CSUEA on an Immersive Workshop Experience featuring Oracle Executives and industry leaders at Digital Hollywood in May 2017. Kevin has also been involved in helping the CSUEA on workforce development programs with the Oracle Institute… including a badge and certification program for entertainment arts students that focus on general analytical, coding, bots, AI and other related tech skills.

The important takeaway is that because of you and your colleagues in the industry and on campus, the CSUEA is moving from discussion to action… breaking down siloes within our university… and between education and entertainment.

  • Developing a mentorship program as part of your housing program for interns.
  • Creating a CSU-wide online course on the “Business of Entertainment.”
  • Researching the development of a global entertainment education studies program.
  • Working to raise funds to double the free housing program as part of the summer internship and mentorship opportunity.
  • Coordinating with our Chancellor’s Office web team and Portfolium to reimagine how we can best help our students, faculty and alumni highlight and promote their work… and linking it with an Internship and Job Opportunity Database.

And because of your work and that of your industry and campus colleagues, we’re building pathways for CSU students to excel in their studies, graduate with a degree and enter an industry that they – like you – are so passionate about.

  • Students like Michael Morales, who with his colleagues at San Francisco State, made the short film, Guardia de mi Hermano (My Brother’s Keeper)… which will be screened this year at the Cannes Film Festival.

Indeed, many in the CSU entertainment family were recognized this past year.

  • Cal State LA alumnus Pablo De La Hoya won a Student Academy Award for his work on the documentary film, Hale.
  • San Francisco State alumnus Spencer Averick won his first Emmy Award this past September for his writing on the Netflix documentary, 13TH. Averick also garnered a 2017 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature for 13TH.
  • And CSUN professor Jennifer Akana Sturla was named a 2018 Time Warner Native Producer Fellow through the Sundance Institute.

Last week, I gave my annual State of the CSU address at our Board of Trustees meeting.

  • We’re building on our momentum from the past year to ensure genuine access and affordability, improve graduation rates and ensure student and alumni success.
  • Our legacy and vision ensures that the CSU will continue to be the engine of economic prosperity and social mobility in the Golden State.
  • We are a force for positive change, lifting up millions of Californians.
  • We need our allies, partners, friends and champions to continue to help tell our story and advocate with us in Sacramento.

The headlines from the Graduation Initiative 2025 Symposium last October were encouraging.

  • I’m thrilled to report that our graduation rates for degree programs in the entertainment and creative arts fields are higher than the systemwide rate…
    • Four-year rate is 4.8 percentage points higher than the CSU average.
    • Six-year rate is 7 percentage points higher than the CSU average.

So why are rates for entertainment and creative arts graduates higher than the CSU average? 

  • Internships, mentorship programs and unique learning experiences that play a key role in retention and graduation… and in turn, create robust workforce development opportunities.
  • We’ll hear later today from Portfolium… who we are partnering with to better showcase the incredible work and content of our students and alumni… and better connect them with job and internship opportunities.
  • Curricular innovations that streamline degree programs… including career-ready badges and certification programs.
  • A growing emphasis on the cutting-edge… connecting entertainment with technology… and tech firms like Google and Oracle.
  • Because of our collective efforts, entertainment and creative arts students can see a clearer path from university to graduation to career.

I am happy to share that gift commitments to the CSU reached over $500 million in 2016–2017, a record for our university.  Thank you to our friends in the entertainment and creative arts fields for their contributions.

  • $17 million gift from Younes and Soraya Nazarian to CSUN… the largest gift in CSU history dedicated to supporting the arts… renamed the Valley Performing Arts Center to the “Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts.”
  • $2 million gift to Cal State Northridge from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association last November – established a scholarship endowment for low-income and historically underrepresented populations in the entertainment industry… and upgraded equipment and systems at CSUN’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts.
  • HFPA also contributed $95,000 to Cal State Long Beach’s Film & Electronic Arts Department and $90,000 to Cal State LA’s Department of Television, Film and Media Studies…. for scholarships and documentary production equipment.
  • Cal State LA also received a $15,000 grant from the Academy Foundation (Oscars) which will help launch the Urban Stories Film Incubator.

My deepest thanks for all that you and your colleagues have done and will do to further the mission of the CSU Entertainment Alliance and the California State University.

  • I am always impressed by the longevity and dedication from this group. CSUEA – and its previous names – has been in existence for 10 years.
  • In the years ahead, we will need your help more than ever to champion our mission … to tell the stories of our outstanding students, faculty and alumni… and to connect us with your industry colleagues and help us advocate up in Sacramento.

Your guidance and leadership have been monumental… and I look forward to building upon our shared success in years to come.

Thank you.