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Assembly Budget Subcommittee

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
Assembly Budget Subcommittee
Sacramento, CA
March 3, 2015

Thank you Assemblymember McCarty, and members of the committee, for your invitation to participate in this hearing.

I am Tim White, Chancellor of the California State University.

Since its formation in 1960, the California State University has turned human potential into social and economic prosperity through a relentless focus on success through educational opportunity matched with quality.

And today, the CSU’s 3 million living alumni represent one in ten employees in California, and one in twenty university degree holders in the United States of America.

Consider this fact that demonstrates the strength of this Class of 3 Million Alumni

Two CSU campuses are in the top ten universities worldwide for the number of alumni working at Apple. San Jose State is number one and San Francisco State is number seven. Consider the influence those San Jose and San Francisco alumni have on the development of today’s technological innovation.

Technology, like California, is powered by the CSU.

Or consider the influence of the smallest CSU campus, the California Maritime Academy. Ninety-four percent of Cal Maritime graduates secure jobs in their fields immediately after graduation – often in the six figures.

These Cal Maritime graduates are employed in every link of the supply chain, including at seaports all around the country… which cumulatively handle nearly $4 billion worth of goods moving in and out of the U.S. per day.

Trade, like California, is powered by the CSU.

Or consider that the 23 campuses of the CSU combine as California’s number one supplier of teachers.

The CSU and its 23 campuses are also the organizing partners in national, state and regional efforts to prepare current teachers to adopt innovative teaching methods and apply new curriculum standards.

Education, like California, is powered by the CSU.

The CSU has lived up to its purpose and promise in the California Master Plan for Higher Education. Yet, the CSU has been increasingly deprived of the state funding needed to continue advancing California’s future.

At the same time, the state of California approaches a drought of one million college graduates by 2025. In ten years, the state will be one million bachelor’s degrees short of the needs of the industries that provide the lifeblood of California’s economy and tax base.

This shortage of educated workers is as grave as the state’s water shortage – if not more so.

So, here are three questions that we must consider together:

  • How does the university continue to create opportunity?
  • How does the university continue to sustain quality?
  • And how does the university continue to enable success?

The CSU has begun to answer these questions within our finite resources.

In the last decade, more than 900,000 CSU degrees have been earned – an impressive figure that will need to rise if California is to mitigate this coming education drought.

Earlier this year, I laid out an ambitious next phase of the CSU’s ongoing effort to enhance student achievement.  This phase will take the form of Graduation Initiative 2025.

The California State University has committed, over the next decade, to educating an additional 100,000 degree-holding Californians – above and beyond our current pace. This goal will expand the Class of CSU Alumni from 3 million to 4 million by 2025.

And while the median time to degree for students starting with the CSU today – as freshmen – is already less than 5 years, the next phase of CSU’s ongoing student achievement efforts will move that number even closer to four years.

And we will do so without sacrificing quality. Indeed, the bottom line of the Graduation Initiative is a path to success for every student that develops core skills in the essentials plus critical reasoning, cultural competency and civic engagement.

Graduation Initiative 2025 is a good next step… but addressing the coming education drought will require opening the channels of educational opportunity, which will demand additional resources. 

And if – as the Governor stated – students should not be the default financiers of higher education, then the state must step up its commitment… or it will see its public universities crumble due to a lack of sufficient investment – and knowledge-based companies will leave the state, or not start in California.

Let me articulate one way that this plays out.  The state’s allocation, while increasing today, is still below 2003-04 levels – a year when the university served 50,000 fewer students… 

Yet through all of this, the number of degrees earned over that same time span has increased by 20,000 annually. Our graduation rates are at all-time highs, and our time to degree is at an all-time low.

We save tens of millions of dollars a year through various efficiency measures in information technology, energy, financial services, insurance and libraries – to name a few, broad categories. Those savings mean less money coming out of our students’ pockets and the state treasury – across all segments.

And just last month, U.S. News and World Report released its Top Ranked Colleges for Efficiency. For the western region, three of our campuses – San Luis Obispo, Long Beach and Pomona – ranked in the top five.

So…the CSU is lean, efficient and effective. But California’s future demands more from our university, and we need the state to help meet that demand.

At the end of the day, we all – the state and the university – share common cause in seeing more students succeed at higher rates, so they can go on to design California’s future.

But shared success will only come from a shared commitment – state and university, faculty and staff, students and alumni, trustees and elected leaders.

So, I return to the questions posed at the beginning of my comments: How does the university continue to create opportunity, sustain quality and enable success?

And at an essential level the answers to these questions are connected to the relationship between the CSU and the state – including securing an appropriate level of funding.

In January, the Governor indicated a commitment of an additional $120 million for the CSU in the coming year.  I am thankful to him for this…

It means that the CSU can cover mandatory costs like increasing health care costs. It also means that all CSU employees will receive a 2% increase in their salaries, their benefits, or some combination of the two.

Additionally, our campuses can grow funded student enrollment by approximately 1% or 4,000 students, systemwide.

The proposed state funding increase of 4% on half of the CSU budget, some 2% overall, helps the university essentially keep up with inflation – but it leaves little to no new funding for proven student success and completion initiatives like expanding proven educational practices or enhancing advising services.

The proposal also means critical technological and physical infrastructure challenges will have little to no chance of being addressed. This is particularly troubling, considering that the state within the last year just shifted all infrastructure responsibility to the CSU with very little capital investment to get this new program off the ground. 

After years of budget slashing and precipitous declines in state support, a proposal that maintains the status quo is not restoration… it is stagnation.

The trustees adopted a budget request of $217 million in state support. This request is reasonable – given the scope of the state’s economic expansion, passage of Proposition 30 for education, and the needs of both the system and the state.

We have confidence in you – that you will help us succeed.

Specifically, the CSU budget request addresses: 

  • Opportunity – allowing up to 12,000 additional students to complete a degree at the CSU – students that in keeping with the CSU mission will come from every community in California and reflect the diversity of this state;
  • Quality – hiring faculty and staff to provide courses and the support services that students need to be able to graduate – and who will continue to advance research and problem solving in areas of high-need, for example water resource management; and
  • Success – investing in new educational approaches and proven technologies – ranging from quality online teaching and learning to e-advising systems to academic planning systems – all to increase student graduation.

We hope that the Legislature will add $97 million to the Governor’s proposed budget between now and June so that we can fully realize our common aims for students and the state.

Together, we will harness the power of the CSU and the strength of our community to lead California into the future – and open the floodgates of prosperity and progress.

Thank you very much.