LAEDC 2015 Economic Forecast

Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor, California State University
LAEDC 2015 Economic Forecast
Los Angeles, CA
October 8, 2014

Thank you Bill and Raul.

It is an honor to be here. I especially appreciate the partnership of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation with the network of the five campuses in LA County that we call “CSU5.”

Across the state, the greatest number of Cal State campuses by county by far are here in Los Angeles. There is an incredible concentration of talent on the campuses of Dominguez Hills, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge and Pomona.

I want to acknowledge and thank presidents Willie Hagan, Jane Close Conoley, Bill Covino, Dianne Harrison and Mike Ortiz for thinking regionally in creating the CSU 5 network, and working together to prepare Greater Los Angeles for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

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.

Just among the CSU 5 campuses, there are more than 130,000 students learning in classrooms, labs and studios throughout Los Angeles County.

Add the remaining five Southern California campuses of Channel Islands, Fullerton, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Marcos and the number exceeds 240,000.

Yet, even this represents only about half of the entire CSU system.

In total, Cal State is a comprehensive 1,000-mile long, 500-mile wide university stretching from San Diego to Humboldt, from the Central Valley to the Los Angeles Basin and San Francisco Bay area, 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 T.S. Golden Bear.

The university offers bachelor’s, master’s and applied doctorates – 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.

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, this Saturday thousands of middle and high school students, parents and mentors will arrive at Cal State Dominguez Hills as part of an education fair, Feria de Educación.

The partners behind the education fair, led by Univision, aim to give students and their families a clear roadmap for their educational journey, with a focus on early preparation for college. The program is now in its sixth year in Southern California.

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.

At Cal State L.A., I had the opportunity to tour the EcoCAR facility, check out the car itself, and meet the team.

The EcoCAR is really quite an accomplishment, and having the campus represented in the EcoCAR Challenge is a source of pride.

But beyond the “wow” factor, the benefit of activities like EcoCAR is the engagement of students in applied learning and employees for Mike Bissonette at AeroVironment.

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.

This program represents the California State University’s “learn by doing” leadership in science, technology, engineering and math – a group of disciplines collectively referred to as STEM.

In thinking about STEM, I am inspired by the words of a Cal Poly Pomona professor and chair of Biological Sciences, Dr. Sepehr Eskandari.

He says:

“My most important responsibility as a scientist is to teach the next generation. This is because science is not static – it is not the sum of all existing knowledge. Rather, science is a dynamic process that builds one discovery on top of the other. Today’s scientific community is asking questions that will not be answered in my lifetime, but in my students’ lifetimes – perhaps.”

Professor Eskandari goes on to praise the campus commitment to undergraduate research – and the fact that he is able to mentor students in his labs through both their bachelor’s and master’s programs.

What makes Professor Eskandari’s story particularly compelling, but not isolated by any means, is that he was a Cal Poly Pomona student. He was mentored through his bachelor’s and master’s programs in those same Cal Poly Pomona labs before going to UCLA for his doctorate and post-doctorate work.

He is a CSU success story – and he is laying the groundwork for the success stories of future generations.

He and his colleagues are also powering California’s economy. It is this work of the campus community – led by a world-class faculty – that roots industries in a region.

Boeing in September announced the opening of an Operations Center just south of Long Beach. To fill the hundreds of jobs, the company pointed to the local engineering talent pool ­– including recent college graduates.

Cal State Long Beach has had a unique relationship with Boeing spanning over three decades.  Joint research and development work between the College of Engineering and the Boeing Research Lab has focused on composite manufacturing and testing, autonomous manufacturing and assembly, and improved technology to protect aircraft from corrosion.

This sort of public/private partnership is a win for both sides.

Industry is able to tap into the incredible creative power of the campus. At the same time, California State University students and faculty gain first-hand experience solving real problems.

California’s economy benefits too. Science, technology, engineering and math are critical fields for California to compete prosper in a global economy.

Especially in this region, we also know the importance of merging technology with the arts. This has led many to adopt a new acronym: “STEAM” – science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

During a recent meeting of university and entertainment industry leadership at Paramount Studies in Hollywood, I heard a continual refrain of the need for students who have a combination of artistic aptitude and technical know-how.

This combination is a natural fit to the applied “learn by doing” model of California State University academics.

I’ve challenged our faculty and deans to come up with ways that we can better meet the entertainment industry’s needs in this area.

There is every reason to believe that the California State University is up to the challenge, given our proven record of excellence in the arts.

The Hollywood Reporter recognized Cal State Northridge, along with San Francisco State, among the top 25 film schools in the country. The author of the article accompanying the ratings said that “the Department of Cinema and Television Arts at CSUN is no longer Hollywood's best-kept secret.”

So to Steve and Art at Film LA and Deena at NBC Universal, we’re here for your business.  And Art, a place for your young son.  Just remember the A-G requirements.

The combination of opportunity and quality leads to success. While the successes of the California State University may have been a secret in the past – but no longer.

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… it is the people’s story.

When I say the California State University story is OUR story, I mean all of us.

Yes, absolutely I mean the story of students, faculty, staff and alumni. Yet, the university’s story is also the story of California.

It is the story of a state with the motto of “Eureka” – an exclamation of discovery. It is the story of industries 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 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 of fall 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.

Among the Class of 3 Million Alumni are names we all know:

  • Carmelita Jeter of Cal State Dominguez Hills, professional track star and fastest woman alive;
  • Steven Spielberg of Cal State Long Beach, legendary director, producer and screenwriter;
  • James Bell of Cal State L.A., former chief financial officer and corporate president of The Boeing Company;
  • Eva Longoria of Cal State Northridge, award-winning actress, activist and philanthropist;
  • And Hilda Solis of Cal Poly Pomona, previous United States Secretary of Labor and member-elect of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

These extraordinarily successful alumni are the tip of the iceberg.

Consider for a moment the influence of the smallest California State University campus.

The California Maritime Academy has around 1,000 students in any given year. Yet, Cal Maritime is training the pilots that keep traffic moving through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. And many of the ship and shore operations are being run by Cal Maritime alumni.

The smallest CSU campus is powering the West Coast’s most important logistic asset… important not only for LA County but for the entire country.

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

Again, consider that statistic for a moment. One out of every ten. 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 trained on a California State University campus.

Indeed, I suspect that many of you have roots in the California State University. As do I… I am a proud alumnus of Fresno State and Cal State East Bay.

The iconic corporations and research centers of this state have direct pipelines of talent from our campuses. From San José State – the number one supplier of talent to Apple – to Cal Poly Pomona – the number one supplier of engineering talent to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Our graduates are CEOs of companies, of families, of communities, which feeds Jodie Lesh at Kaiser – healthy communities are determinants of health.

The Next 3 Million
Let me close by saying that 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.

This is why the CSU5 network is so important.

Already, the network has played a significant role in helping Southern California secure federal designation as a hub of advanced manufacturing – which opens the door to competitive funding.

The network is building a public-public partnership with LA County Human Resources to fill critical local government positions.

And the CSU5 network is joining with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and its members to build public-private partnerships in goods movement, entertainment, technology, healthcare and professional business services.

And systemwide, the 23 California State University campuses continue to:

  • consult with government and industry sector leaders to identify the skills that our graduates need,
  • seek partnerships that provide new internships and learning opportunities for our students,
  • and be 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 I encourage you to be an active participant in it.

Thank you.