The Student Center Ballroom was packed last week at the annual Economic Outlook Conference, hosted by North Bay Business Journal and Sonoma State University. In attendance were students, business owners and representatives, journalists, sponsors and economic experts. Also in attendance were California State University Chancellor Timothy White, President Ruben Armiñana and Provost Andrew Rogerson.
White delivered the keynote address, but was first introduced by Armiñana.
“It is a mark of success that you all got parking,” said Armiñana shortly after he took the stage. He gave some background on his relationship with White, and a little on the background of White himself.
White was born in Argentina, immigrated to Canada and later California, attending Diablo Valley College and eventually Fresno State. He has held several administrative positions in higher education, most recently as chancellor of UC Riverside before his appointment as California State University chancellor last year.
White took the stage to a large amount of applause, humbly bowing his head before adjusting to the microphone and addressing the audience. White started off his speech by taking light jabs at Armiñana.
“Ruben was in my office two days ago in Long Beach telling me how poor he was. Then I came to campus and saw this building. We’re not talking about money anymore with you pal,” said White.
White commended the progress the campus had made over the years with Armiñana at the helm.
The chancellor described the state of the CSU, speaking on the issues of repair needed at many CSU campuses and the need to update campuses to 21st century standards. White recently visited all 23 campuses in the system in an effort to talk to students, faculty and staff while getting to know each campus individually.
White said the CSU produces 65 percent of teaching credentials in California, and well over 55 percent of the state’s college graduates. White also described the lack of technological advancement that has been plaguing the smaller, often forgotten about schools.
White said the community, businesses and students attempting to gain their college degrees are all directly and crucially connected. He said that by 2025, in order for California’s economy to sustain itself, it needs to have 1 million graduates in the workforce.
“That’s an enormous uptake in the number of college graduates in California’s economy,” said White.
White then brought up the idea that he had discussed with all of the universities’ presidents, as well as businesses and policy-makers, to invest $50 million into seven crucial areas of development within the CSU system. White said that in order for the ambitious goal to be realized, investments will be required from the state, the community, businesses, and philanthropists.
“We are going to create public/private partnerships in ways you may not have thought of in the past. We need to focus on this emerging crisis in California, because if we don’t, it’s going to be at the peril of all of us,” said White.
White said that the master plan for higher education, written when the CSU system was formed, is dated and no longer applies to a system whose number of students has doubled in recent years. With the $50 million investment White wishes to counter what he called a “ Political disinvestment,” as well as recreate the master plan for higher education and bring it in to the 21st century.
White finished his keynote by saying that he wants to work with K-12 schools, business leaders, private industries, policy makers and CSU students and executives to create a new viable system of education.