Remarks by Timothy P. White
Chancellor, The California State University
CSU Foundation Board of Governors Annual Meeting
Rancho Palos Verdes, California
June 6, 2019
Good afternoon. It’s great to be with all of you again – especially at this moment in time for the California State University. Fresh off commencement season, with building momentum toward our Graduation Initiative 2025 goals and two new presidential appointments – it is a time for great optimism.
But first, I want to express my deep appreciation for all that you do. You are among Cal State’s most committed, passionate and effective advocates and ambassadors to the business, cultural and educational leaders of the communities we serve.
I am especially grateful for your work to assure the continued vibrancy of the CSU Trustees’ Awards. Thanks to your efforts, our Trustees have truly embraced this program as their own and it is again on solid financial footing.
I would be remiss if I did not recognize Ali Razi in this regard. Ali … thank you. Your leadership – and generous gift – helps ensure that this program will continue to transform the lives of gifted, driven and deserving Californians.
Californians like Oshae Rodgers.
Oshae grew up in poverty. His senior year in high school, troubles at home had him living out of a sleeping bag in the store room of a local business. A school guidance counselor told him he had too many strikes against him to succeed in college.
Oshae’s uncle eventually took him in – under the condition that he continue his education. Oshae enrolled at Cal State Northridge and was instantly inspired by the academic setting and intellectual exchanges with faculty and peers.
In 2016, Oshae became a CSU Trustees’ Award recipient … alleviating his financial burdens and helping propel him to further academic success. Three weeks ago, he graduated with a B.A. in history. He wants to become a teacher. He says, “If I can just touch one life … that person will touch other lives – and I’ll have done my job.”
I might suggest that you, too, have done your job.
Oshae’s is just one of many triumphant commencement stories. Last year, Cal State conferred a record 125,920 degrees. We don’t yet have official numbers from this year, but many campuses are reporting record graduating classes.
Helping fuel these record numbers is the remarkable progress we’re making toward our Graduation Initiative 2025 goals. I’ll share just one example.
One of the initiative’s focal areas looks to ensure that all Cal State students, including those who arrive academically underprepared, are given the opportunity and support they need to get – and remain – on track to graduate in a timely manner.
Beginning with the fall 2018 term, instead of relegating incoming students in need of additional preparation in mathematics and English to developmental education courses for no credit, these students were enrolled in redesigned, credit-bearing courses – with additional learning-support resources. Non-credit developmental education courses were eliminated.
It was a bold step that was met with some skepticism … But let me share some of the early results, focusing on mathematics.
In 2018, roughly the same number of students arrived at Cal State in need of additional academic preparation in math as compared to 2017 – a little more than 17,000. But in 2018, because of the new policy, 10,550 more students attempted a credit-bearing, lower-division math course. With the additional academic support provided, the completion rate for the credit-bearing courses in 2018 matched the completion rate for noncredit courses in 2017.
The bottom line? Seven thousand. Seven thousand more students completed a lower-division math course. Seven thousand more students earned credit … saved money … saved time … and are now on track to earn their degrees.
Again, the results are early. But if this trend holds … and we anticipate it will … it’s a transformative outcome.
Indeed, Cal State’s future is looking bright … and, as I’m sure you are aware, this future includes two new presidents.
Lynn Mahoney will become San Francisco State’s 14th president – and the first woman to serve in the role in a permanent capacity. Lynn is currently the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Cal State LA.
San Francisco’s dynamic, engaged and vocal community is one of its greatest strengths, but it can also present challenges for campus leadership. Lynn has been “battle-tested” in this regard, with the difficult issues Cal State LA has experienced this past year around enrollment. She has demonstrated principled leadership and an ability to think clearly under fire. I have every confidence she’s the right leader for San Francisco State’s students, faculty and staff.
Tom Jackson, Jr. will assume leadership of Humboldt State. Currently president of Black Hills State University in South Dakota, Tom will be Humboldt’s eighth – and first African American president.
Humboldt has recently endured a series of difficult challenges, including the tragic deaths of two students and serious financial issues due in part to enrollment fluctuations. Retiring President Rossbacher has made courageous and necessary decisions in the face of these challenges, leaving Tom with a stable foundation upon which he can build out his vision. He comes to Humboldt with a career of demonstrated success and a unique set of skills that will enable him to bring Humboldt’s campus and extended communities together … to find commonalities and elevate the entire region.
Lynn and Tom join a dynamically diverse group of extraordinarily gifted and dedicated CSU presidents. Their insights and perspectives enrich their campuses in myriad ways. When we gather to discuss the critical issues impacting Cal State students – our conversations have never been more insightful, more appropriate or more forward-looking than they are now.
In closing, I’d like to thank you again for your generous and committed support of the California State University – and for your participation in this annual meeting. I hope that you’ll be able to use what you’ve learned today as you continue to advance the mission of this great university.