Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White - April 18, 2019

Remarks by Timothy P. White (as prepared)
Chancellor, The California State University
CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) Annual Convening
Long Beach, California
April 18, 2019​

Thank you, Krista, for the introduction and for your work in organizing this important event.

Good morning. Let me be among the last to welcome you to Long Beach for COAST's annual systemwide meeting. I'm pleased that this year's convening has expanded to a two-day format and understand that yesterday's lightning talks were outstanding.

The growth of this event – and of COAST's collective reach and impact – comes at a critical time, as the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change…and of climate change deniers. More than ever, we need your scholarship and research. We need your passion. And we need your informed and powerful voice before our policy makers and industry leaders.

Thank you for all that you do to better understand and protect California's treasured coastline.

Arguably though, COAST's greatest impact is on the lives of Cal State students. I'd like to take a moment to highlight just a few examples.

Based at Monterey Bay, the Scholars in Training pilot program promotes the retention of undergraduate STEM students – particularly first-generation students, Pell-eligible students and students of color. The program pairs undergrads – who, as a requirement of the program, have zero research experience – with graduate students. The first- and second-year students assist the graduate students with their research. They're actively engaged in the lab and in the field. They're paid for their work, but more important, they are immersed in the research experience…which is proven to have a dramatic impact on retention.

The pilot program is small, but the early results have been positive – and the student experiences transformative. It's a program that shows great promise for expansion across multiple campuses.

COAST's robust internship program places Cal State undergraduate and graduate students with federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private industry leaders. Internships are full-time in the summer, with the students receiving a $5,000 stipend to help defray expenses.

Last summer, Cal Maritime student Monica Ford interned with the California State Lands Commission Marine Invasive Species Program. Her work focused on reducing the introduction of invasive species that attach to the hulls and ballast tanks of cargo ships – at a huge ecological and economic cost.

According to Monica's supervisor – who, by the way, earned his master's degree at Moss Landing – her work will directly influence how the State Land Commission implements and enforces new regulations.

Another example…Cal State San Marcos student Kathleen Moorman received COAST support to conduct undergraduate research. Working with chemistry professor Dr. Jacquie Trischman, Kathleen isolated a compound that grows on marine algae and shows promise as an antibiotic for the treatment of tuberculosis – which remains one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, despite being deemed a curable disease.  

Kathleen's financial award was modest, but its impact was anything but. Her research inspired her to pursue her Ph.D. Though she was nervous about applying, the confidence she gained from receiving the award pushed her to apply to more competitive programs…including her first choice at the University of Iowa – where she was accepted.      

Again, these are just a few examples – but they underscore the diverse and powerful ways that COAST changes the trajectory of Cal State students' lives.

COAST has embarked upon its second decade. Before I close my remarks, I would like to quickly reflect upon a few of the organization's achievements over its first 10 years.

  • Since its inception, COAST's membership had grown to more than 600 Cal State faculty and research scientists.
  • You have convened 13 briefings in Sacramento to educate legislative and agency staff on critical marine and coastal issues.
  • You have made more than 1,000 awards to students at all 23 CSU campuses, totaling more than $1,750,000.
  • You have made awards to 181 individual faculty members totaling more than $1.4 million. And that investment has resulted in more than $13 million in extramural funding to the university. If only we could generate an 828% return on all our investments.

I commend you for this extraordinary work. It's had a very real and consequential impact on our coastal watersheds and – as the examples I mentioned earlier illustrate so powerfully – the lives of our students.

Looking forward, the challenges you face are growing in scale and in complexity. Rising sea levels and temperatures…marine pollution and acidification…invasive species…shoreline erosion and coastal flooding…intensification of storms…you are confronting some of the big issues of our time. The stakes have never been higher.

That's why I am so grateful for all of you here today and for your colleagues who comprise this remarkable organization. More than ever, California, the nation and the world need your collective brainpower, your passion, compassion, collaborative creativity, and your powerful and persuasive voice.  

Again, I thank you for your attendance and participation in this significant meeting, and for all you do to further student achievement and success at the California State University. ​