CSU/Community Colleges/UC Reception

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
CSU/Community Colleges/UC Reception
Sacramento, CA
January 14, 2014

Thank you, Chancellor Harris—and welcome, President Napolitano and distinguished guests.

Our public colleges and universities are at an important crossroads: a critical juncture of need and opportunity…a point of inflection freighted with optimism and accountability.

Our systems are all beginning to recover from a very difficult budgetary period. At the same time we are all staring down the need to increase graduates to boost California’s workforce – an estimated 1 million more college graduates by 2025.

Yet we have relatively new leadership at all three systems, giving us an opportunity for new ways of looking at things. The three of us have much leadership experience, but in our current jobs we average 10 months.

Together, the CSU, the UC, and the California Community Colleges represent the interests and needs of 2.5 million students – and countless generations of future students.

This is a time for us to re-think our purpose, re-design our strategies, and renew our commitment to working together for the benefit of those students. It is time to reinvigorate the Master Plan to meet the next 50 years of serving California.

In a panel discussion that President Napolitano and Chancellor Harris and I participated in last month, for example, we talked about how technology and online learning is influencing the face of higher education.

One of our challenges is to imagine and harness the capabilities of technology while preserving and even enhancing the quality of the learning experience...and to dramatically improve our ability to reach more students and get them to earn a degree sooner.

We need to stay focused not on process or “the way we’ve always done things,” but on meeting the real-life, changing needs of our students -- together.

We have a major opportunity here so we should think big and take bold strides to match.

As we move forward, we will continue to emphasize that public higher education is an investment in the fabric of California.

The quality of the education that we give our students today will determine the quality of our future schools, communities, workforce, and economy tomorrow…as well as accelerate the upward social mobility of our alumni.

That is why I am looking forward to a renewed era of cooperation and collaboration with my colleagues in California’s public higher education systems.

I have participated in all three segments as a student, as have some of my children. But I have a 4th grader at home… This means we’d better not mess it up!

On that note, I would like to introduce our honored guest, Janet Napolitano.

Janet Napolitano took office as president of the University of California system in September 2013.

As UC president, she leads a university system with 10 campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories, and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program.

The system encompasses more than 234,000 students, about 208,000 faculty and staff, more than 1.6 million living alumni, and an annual operating budget of more than $24 billion, of which only about $3 billion comes from the state of California.

President Napolitano comes to the UC with a long and distinguished history of public service and experience leading large, complex organizations at the federal and state levels.

She served as Secretary of Homeland Security for four years, as Governor of Arizona for six years, and before that as Attorney General of Arizona and as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

As Secretary of Homeland Security, she headed a department comprised of 22 agencies and directorates, and whose missions include counterterrorism, border security, immigration, cybersecurity and disaster response and recovery.

As Governor of Arizona, she focused on education, from pre-kindergarten through public higher education. She was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, and was named one of the nation’s top five governors by Time magazine.

We are very pleased to have her join us and we are looking forward to many years of collaboration ahead.

Please join me in welcoming President Janet Napolitano.