CSURMA - Fitting the Pieces Together

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
CSURMA - Fitting the Pieces Together
San Diego, CA
April 28, 2015

Thank you, Steve Relyea, for that introduction… and for all of the hard work, guidance, and wisdom that you and your entire team bring to our university.

Thank you as well to Robert Eaton and Zach Gifford and the CSU finance and systemwide risk management staff.

It is a pleasure to be back in San Diego among so many Cal State colleagues, partners, and stakeholders.

A warm welcome as well to Ken Smith, director of the UC’s environmental health & safety office.

And thank you to Dan Howell from Alliant Insurance Services and Cindy Parker from Sedgwick Claims Management Services for joining us today.

This is the first time that I’m able to talk with all of you together in the same room.

First, let me express my appreciation for the critical work that you all do.

  • Thank you for protecting the California State University by ensuring the integrity of our mission, processes and systems;
  • Thank you for being a voice of accountability and transparency;
  • Thank you for facilitating the development, adoption, and sharing of best practices through your distinct mix of objectivity, creativity, and expertise.

You are our intelligence gatherers, our resource guides, our support systems. Your influence touches nearly every level of our institution - and your dedication and insight makes sure that the CSU can continue to meet the needs of its students and Californians.

With 23 campuses and 90 auxiliary organizations, our system is a dynamic laboratory for emerging practices… not practice, not best practice… rather, exemplary practice… in risk management, health and safety, and accounting.

Our system is only successful if we all work together, sharing in the leadership of this university, ensuring that we are consistently learning from each other, and evaluating our failures and successes…

As the CSU continues to move towards shared methods of data processing, human resources management and procurement of goods and services, it is critically important that we continue to seek out innovative and effective ways to:

  • provide staff and managers the right tools and training to succeed;
  • share information and exemplary practices;
  • develop new efficiencies and cost-saving strategies, while sustaining or improving quality;
  • identify and quantify opportunities to be better;
  • ensure that our campuses, students, faculty, staff, and community guests are protected in a safe, welcoming environment.

The overarching goal is to reinforce a systemwide culture of continuous improvement, leveraging the people and power of the CSU and California’s public higher education institutions.

And as the mission statement suggests, systemwide risk management is committed to supporting new opportunities, addressing the uncertainties, and ensuring that the CSU’s mission of providing a safe, productive space to spur student success remains on solid ground.

On that point… it comes as no surprise that the safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests remains paramount to our mission at the CSU.

During a systemwide Title IX meeting in February, I spoke about the essential need for our universities to be safe places to learn, teach, and work.

And as I stated at that meeting, learning simply cannot take place in an environment of fear.

When one member of our community is victimized by another - we are all diminished and we must be at our best.

We must use the CSU’s scale to its advantage and use innovative practices to reduce the instances of wrongdoing, such as sexual assault, and prepare the community to support victims when violence does occur.

And I am encouraged by the dedication of everyone in this room today towards continuous improvement on these issues.

We have made significant, thoughtful efforts in the awareness and prevention of sexual assault on all 23 campuses, including the appointment of the CSU’s first Title IX compliance officer, Pamela Thomason.

The CSU is also implementing a comprehensive, consistent, cross-discipline approach to addressing sexual assault on campuses.

We are requiring mandatory sexual violence training for students and employees, placing confidential advocates on all campuses and revisions to system policies that reflect changes in state law and expectations of our students and their families.

This effort, which combined the expertise of our people in academic and student affairs, human resources, general counsel and others… is a prime example of what the CSU and its stakeholders can accomplish when we come together as a community.

And sharing leadership and working together will be critical if we are to meet the needs of the 21st century economy.

California’s economic growth is centered on developing the skills necessary to be at the cutting edge - and even perhaps a bit ahead of that - of new technology and innovation.

It will require a nimble, focused education system where students can transcend the typical classroom setting and push the boundaries of what a public university can accomplish.

Advancements in technology will help guide our campuses, pointing institutions and academic programs in the direction of where innovation, culture and industry are heading in the future.

One of these relatively new innovations, which will be discussed later on today, is the proliferation of unmanned aircraft systems… drones, for an aviation layperson.

New innovations and technologies have great potential to transform, enhance and supplement course offerings, research programs, and more...

Case in point… who would have thought five years ago that the CSU would need to develop a policy for unmanned aircraft systems?

As these systems improve and costs decrease, I suspect that we’ll see more interest across campus departments, programs and disciplines to use this technology… from our marine research labs to athletics to TV and film production… to student mischief within living and learning spaces...

Another change we’re seeing across California and the nation is the rise of microbreweries, a burgeoning industry that is expected to continue its exponential growth in the next decade.

While the innovative methods and techniques in beer making might be lost on the average consumer, new programs like the Innovation Brew Works at Cal Poly Pomona continue to push the envelope on what an academic program can do - providing students with the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to become masters and innovators in an exciting, multi-billion dollar industry, crossing disciplines in agriculture, chemistry, and in the case of Pomona, entrepreneurship and hospitality.

As you all know, with innovation and potential comes risk. I can see a few people here having minor crises over the thought of drones delivering student-made craft beer on campus grounds.

The CSU will continue to rely on your know-how and expertise to develop and enforce smart policies, procedures, and recommendations. Policies that allow for innovation and new technology while ensuring that our core mission remains protected.

From aerial drones to craft breweries to data security to water conservation… the shared efforts and objectives of CSURMA and CABO means that we will have effective, logical frameworks that allow for innovation in education and peace of mind.

As part of a larger initiative to increase efficiency, quality and effectiveness, and reduce costs, we’ve made enormous strides in how the CSU sources supplies and services, using its size and scale to its advantage.

Campuses from the CSU, California Community Colleges and the UC are banding together to negotiate contracts for products and services. Across the system, the CSU is developing centralized processing for everything from construction management to human resources to parking violations.

Through strategic sourcing, smart partnerships and more centralized processing, the CSU has avoided or saved:

  • $37 million in costs for IT network equipment since 2011;
  • $51 million in strategic debt refinancing over the past year;
  • $16 million annually as a result of energy efficiency projects;
  • $17 million on consolidated purchasing agreements for software, office, and technology projects.

In the courtroom, the CSU’s general counsel has reduced litigation and settlement costs - and risk - by pursuing a smart and firm strategy for legal matters brought against the university and its campuses.

When it comes to the water drought plaguing California, the CSU Water Resources and Policy Initiatives and its over 250 water resource experts are working with local communities, businesses, and municipalities to find innovative solutions through research and policy to address the drought’s impact on agriculture, industry, and the environment.

In concert with Governor Brown’s actions on the drought, I have asked each campus to think deeply about this crisis in ways they might do better to reduce their overall water consumption, find innovative ways to implement grey water and water recycling methods, and overall impact on natural resources.

Innovative projects at Fresno State, Cal State Fullerton, Humboldt State and Cal State San Bernardino - among others - are looking at how to integrate water conservation techniques throughout the state, including citrus orchards and fragile redwood groves.

As with everything I have touched on this morning, let us remember that innovations, technologies, and projects do not emerge from a vacuum.

They require a dedicated smart staff, a dedicated and smart faculty, and a capable and inspirational student body. They require a wise allocation of resources and they require a strong, sturdy foundation - a foundation built and fortified by your efforts and those of your colleagues.

I look to all of you to help promote and share solutions that will meet our system?s challenges and maximize our opportunities.

By striking the right balance between mitigating risk and allowing innovation and campus flexibility, you will shine a light on what works and what doesn’t and help guide our institution to a fruitful and productive future.

I am confident that with shared leadership and continuous improvement, we can continue to serve the California State University’s 460,000 students, 47,000 faculty and staff - and 3 million alumni.

Thank you.