Entertainment Industry Initiative Remarks

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
Entertainment Industry Initiative (EII)
Advisory Board Meeting
Los Angeles, CA
September 11, 2015

Thank you, Alberto, for leading this advisory board meeting today… and for Univision’s incredible hospitality…

Thank you to Les and Dina from San Francisco State for spearheading this initiative…

And of course, thank you to the advisory board members for your continued dedication to California State University’s students, faculty and staff.

I am incredibly excited for this upcoming year and for what’s in store for the CSU and this initiative…

As you may know, the CSU received its first fully-funded budget from the Governor and legislature in nearly a decade. This news is huge for the long-term success of our university community and the state as a whole.

Thank you to those in this room who raised your voice on this issue.

There’s that saying that a budget is a profoundly moral document – and I believe that we are taking the first steps to reinvigorate the ideals and vision laid out sixty years ago… that public higher education is a fundamental part of the societal and economic fabric of California.

This year’s budget success comes at a great time.  Through the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025, we’re making strides to improve graduation rates, shorten the time to a degree, reduce course bottlenecks and build pathways to success for all students.

We’re investing heavily in technology, enhancing the student learning environment while integrating cutting-edge data analysis tools to identify successpatterns, engage students and expand on our successes.

This push is something that really excites me, because we’re not just using technology for technology’s sake. Rather, we’re finding ways to utilize new technology to solve long standing obstacles to student success by bringing individualized learning to scale.

Within this initiative, there is a lot to celebrate as well.

Cal State Los Angeles is one of only six universities selected as an official affiliate of the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles… providing students with incredible access to the museum’s rich musical history and archives…

San Francisco State professors Sachi Cunningham and Jon Funabiki accompanied six students to Japan to create a multimedia website documenting the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster…

And the highly-regarded department of cinema and television arts at Cal State Northridge recently received a $60,000 grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association… along with an additional contribution for an endowed scholarship fund to support Northridge’s film students.

All told, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has awarded Cal State Northridge more than $835,000 over the past 18 years to support senior film projects – benefiting nearly 150 senior film fellows.

And CSU campuses continue to produce incredible alumni working in the industry – many of whom are joining us today – helping to shape our curriculum and provide opportunities to students while championing the values and mission of this university…

I believe that our programs continue to earn this recognition because the CSU equips students with the practical and creative skills necessary for a successful, fruitful career in this industry.

Students like Celeena Castrellon, Claudia Vergara and Edgar Barillas – and we’re lucky to have them join us today…

I hope you’re not missing class for this…

The intern profiles are included in your packet, and we will hear from all three of them later today…

But what I find most interesting, and it speaks to the quality and diversity of this initiative – is that each of our interns started down unique paths that speak to their backgrounds, goals and talents.

Celeena has found her passion for mentoring and communication, and hopes to use her education at Cal State Northridge to impart wisdom and empower others through her voice. Celeena has worked for MOSAIC and the CSUN Helpline, assisting at-risk youth, and recently interned for a popular Spanish language radio station in Los Angeles.

Claudia – who is set to graduate with a degree in broadcast and electronic communication arts from San Francisco State next year – earned a paid internship with Discovery Digital Networks, where she creates original content for the web, while developing the expertise needed for a career in television production.

And Edgar is the first in his family to earn a high school diploma and attend college… and next May, he’ll earn a bachelor’s degree in communications studies and biology from Cal State Northridge – another family first. Edgar also recently concluded an eight month internship with The Walt Disney Company – working in the global distribution division at Disney-ABC television.

And while Celeena, Claudia and Edgars own work ethic and intelligence have opened incredible pathways of opportunity for them in the entertainment industry and likely any career they choose – we should also credit this initiative and the programs across the CSU that have helped develop those pathways, allowing for incredible access to the entertainment industry, relevant and innovative curriculum and laser-focused counseling and guidance.

Moving forward, I believe that we need to continue to focus on students like Celeena, Claudia and Edgar, helping to ensure that they stay engaged and have incredible opportunities to gain valuable hands-on experience in the field – much like we would encourage for students in STEM and other research fields – so that they can build a knowledge base while in school and become highly-valued and sought after graduates.

And as habits and trends shift, mediums change and the nexus of the entertainment and high tech industries continue to become more defined – or more amorphous, depending on who you ask – we will need to be flexible yet focused on the needs of our students and the industry. Defining a path forward for the CSU in this field will undoubtedly require your intuition and skill.

So before we move forward with today’s meeting, I just want to again thank you for the time and dedication that you have and will put forward for this initiative… I look forward to learning from each of your unique perspectives and expertise.

I now turn it over to Les for his remarks.