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Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White - October 22, 2017

Remarks by Timothy P. White
hancellor, California State University
AASCU Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
October 22, 2017


Thank you for the kind introduction. Deborah and Muriel… thank you for your distinguished and principled leadership.

Welcome all of you to California… just another crisp fall day in late October… crisp skin if you forgot sunscreen!

California is an interesting state-nation… if we were a nation.

By population… we would be 35th in the world. By economy… we are the 6th largest.

How can that be?

Several reasons, but the one I'd opine as most important is the public higher education system in California… the community colleges, the CSU and the University of California.

We – the CSU – are exclusively providing BA, MS and applied doctoral degrees, teaching credentials and a joint Ph.D. with the UC.

And you've heard the numbers of 480,000 students, 50,000 staff, 3.4 million alumni, 23 campuses… an 800-mile long university.

But what you may not know is that our first campus – San Jose State University – was founded 11 years before the first UC campus.

And that 1 in 10 employees in California has a CSU degree… and 1 in 20 nationally.

The CSU serves a diverse student body and I commend the leadership of AASCU that has also shown in support of the Pell Grant Program… in support of our Dreamer students… and in support of Title IX protections.

I'm proud that the CSU and all 23 presidents here also demonstrated on these issues of our times.

We are in a time of great peril… and this requires great leaders… leaders who will defend higher education… particularly the principle of equitable access to higher education.

I am pleased to serve alongside President Garcia… incoming AASCU chair… and President Castro… being honored today for Fresno State's – one of my alma maters – tremendous work in student success and completion.

These two leaders are exemplars of the 23 CSU campus presidents. People who are – to a person – in this for the students.

And their nurturing of students shows in student success… yet, also shows in the way in which CSU campuses reach… and reflect… California's communities.

Today, I am very proud to say that 21 of the 23 California State University campuses have received Hispanic-Serving Institution designation!

The CSU – stretching from just north of the border with Mexico to a little south of the border with Oregon – has no majority among ethnic and racial identities among our 480,000 students… but students identifying as Hispanic make up the largest plurality… at 40 percent.

Truly, the CSU is fortunate.

Fortunate in…

why we were created…

where you find our campuses…

what programs we offer…

and who we admit and graduate.

All of these elements lead to a more diverse university by nature.

But, the CSU has also nurtured this diversity by being a constant presence in the community… by offering an education that is relevant and valuable… by connecting classrooms to research labs, design studios, executive suites and political offices.

We have nurtured diversity by providing undergraduates with hands-on experiences that they would never have otherwise… by challenging our graduates to develop and lead their own teams… and by recruiting faculty who prioritize classroom education alongside their scholarly activities.

Finally… we have nurtured diversity by caring about the whole student... by confronting issues of food and housing insecurity… by offering services for first-generation students, for dreamers, for those who may need a little assistance with English or math, and for those facing individual challenges or traumas.

That is what it means for a Hispanic-Serving Institution… for an AAPI-Serving Institution… for a Predominantly or Historically Black Institution… indeed, for a Minority-Serving Institution… to SERVE.

Service means that we cast aside privileged notions of who a college student used to be… and we embrace our students for who they are and what they will accomplish.

We celebrate and are known for who we got to and through, not who we exclude.

Lately, I've been reflecting on why we exist.

We must, more than ever before, recognize that we must exact more visible moral leadership.

Yes, the disciplines and interdisciplines and professions matter. As do all the skills and experiences surrounding the emergence of the mind and soul to be a productive member of society… lifting self, family, community and country.

At the same time, there are forces… centrifugal forces… the political demands of the day-to-day which seek to pull us apart.

Higher education, however… the colleges and universities like ours… are the vital centripetal forces bringing society back together.

There's a commonality among us… where we understand and respect difference and the distributions of unique ideas and identities.

And look who we teach in this way. For the past five years, we've added 42,000 students… of which 35,000 are Pell grant recipients.

That's right… the CSU has added more Pell students in the last five years than the Ivy Leagues, USC, UCLA and UC Berkeley have in total.

And we have over 8,300 Dreamer students. Most are DACA along with several hundred DACA employees.

The cause of Dreamers is one that I and the CSU presidents fully embrace. Support for Dreamers is, for us, what it means to LEAD and to SERVE.

And I was moved by President Howard's strong statement on the DACA program… the immediate work of AASCU's advocacy team… and the great many colleagues from AASCU institutions that reached out to the CSU as partners… looking for ways that we could be better advocates together.

So let us not shy away from the moral leadership needed, particularly in these times.

Together, we help students fulfill their potential and realize their dreams.

Thank you, and again, welcome to California.