Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White - May 8, 2017

Remarks by Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
2017 CSU Business Conference
Anaheim, CA
May 8, 2017


Thank you, Missy Jarnagin for that introduction… and thank you all for the invitation to speak today.

Before I left the office to come here this afternoon, I told my staff I was off to the Happiest Place on Earth

They assumed Disneyland...but little did they know, I was actually talking about this room, filled with such dedicated, talented and innovative people.

And indeed, there is much to be happy and proud about for the California State University this year… largely because of the progress, efforts and achievements that you have made in your respective fields to further advance our shared values, vision and mission.

Together, you have worked to ensure that resources are going into the areas and fields that directly impact and foster student success…

You have developed new and exciting partnerships between CSU campuses and our sibling systems – the UC and California Community Colleges – to share resources, expand our buying power and decrease costs on everything from pharmaceuticals to office supplies…

You have strengthened and expanded our capabilities to respond to – and, hopefully avoid – crises and challenges that arise from an institution of this size, range and scope…

You have created new and meaningful opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to do what they do best… to learn, teach, discover and inspire… to make a difference.

And throughout the business operations of the CSU – from accounting to asset management, and all points, departments and projects in between – you have improved both the efficiency and effectiveness of how we do business.

Efficiency and effectiveness… that's really the magic formula for success.

Efficiency alone may keep costs low… but it lacks purpose and commitment to mission.

In turn, effectiveness, while focused on mission, is untenable alone in this era of ever-shrinking budgets.

Yet, when reach that sweet spot of efficiency with effectiveness… we can do incredible things for our students, faculty, staff, alumni… indeed, for the people of California.

And as I look toward the years ahead, doing incredible things – being both efficient and effective – really is our mantra and path forward.

For example, as you know, our ambitious Graduation Initiative 2025 efforts are now in full swing on every campus.

Jeff Gold from Academic and Student Affairs at the Chancellor's Office will be providing a more detailed update on our efforts, challenges and successes…

So I'll just add that in less than two years since we launched Graduation Initiative 2025, we've already seen real progress in our four and six year graduation rates… and we've deployed smart and rigorous ways to eliminate equity and achievement gaps for underrepresented students across California.

We've made great strides in our Graduation Initiative 2025 goals in part because your business colleagues on campus and across the system have made certain that the areas and programs critical to student success – namely, adding more classes, faculty and advisors and expanding student support services – have the necessary resources in place.

So, because of your outstanding efforts… our faculty, advisors and staff are able to do incredible things.

In Sacramento, we continue our advocacy efforts… pushing for more robust, consistent state resources and statutory flexibility in a wide array of areas, many of which fall under your purview.

And in Washington, D.C., despite the difficult environment, we stand as national leaders and champions of affordability, accessibility, diversity and quality in public higher education.

We've seen success in both capitals because we have a strong case to make to legislators and policymakers… that we're an incredibly efficient and effective operation… that we know how to maximize their investment… and that we're excellent stewards of the public good.

Indeed, because of your outstanding efforts… our government relations staff, advocates and champions are doing incredible things like our success in pushing for Year-Round Pell, which was included in the recent federal omnibus appropriations bill.

And on campus, each and every day, our students are gaining personal knowledge while adding to the public discourse… leading research and discovery in everything from equine science to cube satellites that will help NASA send humans to Mars.

Let's percolate on this last example for a moment…

Some of you may have heard that Cal State Northridge recently had their shoebox-sized cube satellite – dubbed CSUN-Sat-1 – deployed into Earth's orbit.

An incredible achievement for our students and faculty… and undeniably, the entire CSU.

But it is also very much your achievement… your success.

CSUN's cube sat required powerful computers, 3D printers, fabrication equipment and more… all financed, purchased and deployed by our business, finance and operations staff.

It required – I'm sure – the proper insurance and partnership agreements with NASA and JPL to get it from the campus laboratory into orbit 250 miles above our heads.

It required a commitment from our auxiliaries to fund research projects and award scholarships…

And it certainly required countless other departments and divisions across the CSU.

You and your colleagues across the CSU enabled this success… and the myriad other successes that make the CSU such a great place to learn, work, discover and thrive.

So for that, and everything else you have done to enable student, faculty, staff and alumni success… thank you.

Lastly, I want to share with you all some deep thinking I've been doing recently on our place in the economy, polity and society of California and the world.

I am… in the simplest of terms... trying to answer the question:

Why does this matter?

We know… through anecdotes and hard data that California's global success has been and is powered by the many generations of educated, tenacious and innovative people.

And for the last sixty years, the CSU has educated and graduated millions of alumni – 3.4 million to be exact – with the skills and knowledge needed to sustain and grow California's diverse society and economy.

We can look to two recent studies to further prove the value of the CSU's distinct public mission and to society writ large.

Most of us have heard about that recent Stanford study which tracked the social mobility of students before they entered college and again after they graduated.

The results of that study indicated something that we already knew in our heart, but perhaps bears repeating…

Access to an affordable, quality and inclusive public higher education – the hallmark of the CSU – is by far the best way to move millions of Californians from cycles of unemployment, incarceration and hopelessness into cycles of employment, success and prosperity.

Many CSU campuses were cited by Stanford as leaders on this front.

And in fact, the Stanford study cited Cal State LA – a campus set in the heart of historic, diverse and largely working-class Los Angeles – as the best university in the country for ensuring social mobility for its students and alumni.

That's consequential. That's transformative. And that's why we need to focus our efforts, with the support of every person, team, department, division, campus, initiative and consortium across the CSU – including… nay, especially… all of you here today.

Despite the immense progress that we have made as a university, as Californians and as Americans… the feelings and realities of despair and hopelessness remain dangerously pervasive in today's uncertain world.

I'm sure many of you are aware of another recent study – done by Loyola Marymount University – which polled Angelenos every five years since the 1992 LA Riots and asked them about rates of employment, income inequality and education throughout Los Angeles.

The researchers then compared those figures to previous studies done over the last 25 years.

What LMU researchers found is rather shocking.

They found that both the facts and feelings about socioeconomic inequality in Los Angeles is at – and in some cases, even exceeds – pre-1992 levels.

In other words, the inequality, despair and hopelessness that eventually and unfortunately led to violence and destruction in LA in the early 1990s is once again a pervasive fact and lived experience for many people in 2017.

If we think deeply on this issue, we know that this reality goes beyond the communities of South LA. Communities in Fresno… San Bernardino… Chico… certainly, many communities throughout California share these same feelings and realities.

That's alarming. And it should be – and is – a call to action for civil society as a whole, including the CSU.

We know that there are factors at play that are beyond our immediate control. Yet, we also know that with the time, resources and resolve, all of the issues that face California and the world today can be solved through the work of an educated citizenry.

Together, we can get to the core of the question of why… and we can use the answers and insight from that question to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality, affordable and inclusive educational experience… with the skills, knowledge and support needed for graduation and a lifetime of success.

I know that you and your colleagues will find the answer to the question of why… and will continue to enable the California State University and its 479,000 students to do incredible things.

Thank you.

It is now my pleasure to introduce Taylor Herren. Taylor is a graduate student at Chico State's college of agriculture and a graduate fellow at the Wildcat Leadership Institute.

On the system level, I have worked closely with Taylor on many of the most challenging issues facing the CSU – and public higher education – over the last few years.

As a former president of both the California State Student Association and Chico State Associated Students, Taylor has championed the issues of affordability, accessibility, sustainability, federal Title IX protections and campus sexual assault.

Each time I work with Taylor, I come away even more impressed by her immense knowledge, professionalism, insight, passion and compassion for the issues… and for her deep care and dedication to the CSU and its students, faculty, staff and alumni.

With that, it is my great honor to invite Taylor Herren to the podium.