Greater Riverside Area Chambers of Commerce

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
Greater Riverside Area Chambers of Commerce
Riverside, CA
October 10, 2014

Thank you Cindy, Ron, Richard, Jose, Manuel and especially Lou – it is a privilege to serve alongside all of you in building a brighter future for California.

It is a pleasure to be back in a city and community that my family and I remain very fond of and care deeply about. Riverside will always have a special place in our hearts.

It is also an honor to address the business community of the Greater Riverside Area Chambers of Commerce once again.

Thank you for supporting investment in higher education – including your strong advocacy on behalf of the School of Medicine at UC Riverside.

You know, I often think of that advocacy effort – when our entire community came together to secure approval and then funding for the School Medicine. In our advocacy we were able to draw a straight line between an investment in higher education and what that investment meant for healthy communities.

The School of Medicine is one piece of the larger whole of public higher education in this state.
The California State University, University of California and California Community Colleges are all in the wheelhouse of economic growth and prosperity – social advancement and stable healthy communities.

Your continued advocacy and support in Sacramento is essential if we are to harness the strength and power of an educated workforce. These efforts start here in Riverside and the Inland Empire.
I want to acknowledge and thank California State University, San Bernardino President Tomás Morales for being here.

Tomás and his campus colleagues have a huge responsibility.

Cal State San Bernardino serves two counties with a combined area of 27,000 square miles. And at 4.3 million, the population of the Inland Empire is more than 25 states.

The way Cal State San Bernardino faculty, students, staff and alumni meet the needs of this region is testament to their dedication to the California State University’s mission.

And Tomás is a wonderful, dedicated and passionate leader in achieving that mission.

Indeed, the passion we see from Tomás and the Cal State San Bernardino family speaks to the broader story of our university.

The CSU’s Story in Three Parts
One of the most important things a Chancellor can do is to tell the story of the institution in a compelling way.

The California State University has a powerful story that I will tell in three parts:

  • the opportunity to earn a college degree,
  • the quality of our university programs,
  • and the success of our alumni.

The breadth and depth of the opportunities created on a daily basis by the California State University are as difficult to grasp as they are important for our economic and societal future.

Cal State San Bernardino alone educates nearly 19,000 students in any given year. Ninety-two percent of those students come from the Inland Empire.

Add the remaining nine Southern California campuses - Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Pomona, San Diego and San Marcos - and the number of students learning in our classrooms, labs and studios exceed 240,000.

Yet, even this represents only about half of the entire California State University system.

I like to think of the CSU as a comprehensive 1,000-mile long, 500-mile wide university stretching:

  • from San Diego to Humboldt;
  • from the Central Valleys to the Los Angeles Basin and San Francisco Bay;
  • and from the Desert Studies Center in the Mojave, to the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Monterey Bay.

The California State University even has a seagoing campus: Cal Maritime’s Golden Bear.

The CSU is often called a four-year university, but this is only part of the story.

The university offers bachelor’s, master’s and applied doctorates (Education, Nursing, Physical Therapy) – in addition to applied innovative research that engages undergraduate students in solving societal problems.

In total, we have nearly 450,000 students and 50,000 employees. We have nearly 3 million living alumni – adding more than 100,000 graduates per year.

When it comes to providing access to opportunity, the California State University fulfills the promise of public higher education.

Our campuses are elite, but not elitist. Our students and graduates represent the fabric of California’s society. We take great pride in who we admit and graduate… not who we exclude.

A third of new undergraduates are first generation.

And half are Pell-eligible, or low-income.

Both of these figures are higher for Cal State San Bernardino, where two-thirds of students come from a low-income background, and an astonishing 77 percent of graduates are the first in their families to attend college.

Close to 50 percent of the bachelor’s degrees earned by African Americans in California – and more than 60 percent of those earned by Latinos – are from a Cal State campus.

The fact that California State University campuses reflect their communities is not an accident. Our campuses are a continuous presence in local neighborhoods.

As one example, Cal State San Bernardino dedicated the entire fourth week of September to celebrating California Native American history and culture.

This celebration was in recognition of California Native American Day on September 26. The week provided a tremendous opportunity for students and families to connect to the story of this region.

It also helped lay the groundwork for future stories, as some students took their first steps on a college campus and found out they were welcomed.

Beyond opportunity, we emphasize quality. The California State University is a public good, from providing access to a world-class education to facilitating completion of a quality degree.

Often, facilitating student success means providing learning opportunities outside of the classroom. We need to give students authentic societal problems to solve, in multicultural settings.

Each year, Cal State San Bernardino’s students contribute more than 80,000 hours of volunteer service to Inland Empire communities – if monetized, the equivalent value of nearly $2 million.

Because of the extraordinary engagement of its faculty, staff and students in community service, the university has been recognized for seven consecutive years on the U.S. President’s Community Service Honor Roll.

The experience of service brings campus and community closer together – solidifying that essential partnership.

It is these opportunities that help students connect the dots between what they learn in the classroom and the difference they can make in the world as graduates.

So too do the California State University’s Water Resources Policy and Initiatives headquartered at the San Bernardino campus. 

These initiatives tap into the expertise of more than 250 faculty, as well as student interns, throughout the 23-campus system to address California’s pressing water needs – of course collaborating deeply with UC Riverside faculty and engaging the two campuses’ extensive water archives.

Cal State San Bernardino students also have the ability to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a minor, certificate or concentration in cybersecurity.

Students access cutting-edge resources through the Cyber Security Center, which is designated as a Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

These programs are representative of the California State University’s “learn by doing” leadership in applied science, technology, engineering and math – collectively known as STEM. They also transcend disciplines by bringing together policy and technical experts.

This is where the future is going. I continue to hear from industry leaders who want graduates who can combine policy, business strategy and technology.

High-quality programs throughout the California State University are training graduates that have that essential mix.

The combination of opportunity and quality leads to success. The transformation of human potential into economic prosperity and public good is the heart of the California State University mission.

We exist to benefit the whole society. The California State University story is OUR story as Californians. It is the people’s story.

It is the story of a state with the motto of “Eureka” – an exclamation of discovery. The discovery of ideas, of places and of self.

It is the story of industries and businesses that put discovery into practice.

And it is the story of families and communities that prosper because their people are able to compete in a global market.

They are able to compete because they are educated; because they have the knowledge and skills that industries need; and because they have learned to put those attributes into practice.

I began my remarks today saying that the California State University was approaching 3 million living alumni. Sometime during commencement in 2015, that 3 millionth graduate will cross the dais.

We are in the midst of a celebration that will carry us through the remainder of this academic year, leading up to the 2015 graduations.

What we are going to demonstrate is the combined strength and success of our alumni throughout the decades. An example of that power is the influence of the California State University on K through 12 education.

Over half of the teachers in California are prepared in Cal State post-baccalaureate programs. This holds true in the Inland Empire. The majority of teachers in the IE trained at CSUSB.

Here in the Inland Empire there has been and remains a wonderful education coalition including folks from UCR and CSUSB, RCC and other community colleges, faith-based colleges, superintendents of schools in both counties, and innumerable civic, elected and appointed leaders.

This coalition shines a light on critical issues in education, including academic preparation, college-going rates, and 2 or 4-year degree completion.

A tip of the hat to all those involved in this coalition, including UCR’s own Pam Clute of the ALPHA Center and CSUSB President Morales.

One of the most important things these coalition leaders do is celebrate and support our teachers.
Teachers like Shelbi J. Wilson-Fields, a Cal State San Bernardino alumna and teacher at Abraham Lincoln Continuation High School here in Riverside.

Shelbi is a decorated teacher, receiving the California Teacher of the Year Award in 2006, and named one of six Best and Brightest National Top Educators by Essence Magazine in March 2010. And when I read you her quote, you’ll know why. She says:

“For those of us who are fortunate to be called as teachers, life is full of inspirational moments. A teacher is an agent of change. We bring our own experience, personality and knowledge to the forefront in order to change the trajectory of another person’s life. I have run into students who graduated and tell me ‘you were my second mom.’ What is more mission and life affirming than that?”

Every extraordinary teacher, like Shelbi, influences thousands of lives. This is the “social multiplier” of success that goes hand in hand with the “economic multiplier” Lou spoke of earlier.

This is the California we live in – a California where one out of every ten people employed in this state earned a CSU degree.

Consider that statistic for a moment. No other university comes close.

One out of every ten employees that you rely on to drive your industry – from aerospace to biotechnology and from entertainment to hospitality – was educated on a California State University campus.

Indeed, I suspect that many of you have roots in the California State University:

  • As do I – as a proud alumnus of Fresno State and Cal State East Bay.
  • As does Lou – as a proud and successful alumnus of Cal State San Bernardino.

Our alumni are CEOs of companies, of communities and of families.

The Next 3 Million
Let me close with this. As we celebrate the success of three million current California State University alumni, we must plan for the next million, and the million after that, and then the million after that.

System-wide, the 23 California State University campuses are preparing for those millions to follow by consulting with government and industry sector leaders to identify the skills that our graduates need, seeking partnerships that provide new internships and learning opportunities for our students, and being a leader in regional, state and national coalitions that sustain economic prosperity and livable communities.

So there you have it. Opportunity. Quality. Success. This is OUR story. This is OUR future. And we must all be advocates of that future.

Our community defied the odds in building a School of Medicine during the midst of the Great Recession. Now is the time to harness that energy once again.

Be the storytellers of a better tomorrow.

Thank you.