(Victor Valley)- – “It feels like I’m home.” That’s what a beaming Tim White, the chancellor of the California State University system, told a standing-room-only audience consisting of students, faculty and staff at a Cal State San Bernardino forum on Thursday, May 9.
The affable White wasn’t kidding. He knows the Inland Empire well, having served as chancellor of neighboring UC Riverside prior to being selected to lead the 23-campus CSU system in October.
The afternoon forum, held in the university’s Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center, was the culmination of his two-day visit to the San Bernardino campus, which included meetings with students, administrators, faculty, staff and CSUSB supporters.
In an hour-long talk and question-and-answer period, White’s easygoing manner seemed to charm the audience.
When asked about making the CSU system smoke free, he joked with the person asking the question that he would “meet her outside to smoke a cigar to talk about it,” then followed with an explanation that he supported a smoke-free campus, but there are also issues of personal rights and cultural considerations to be considered.
White spoke of how the CSU system has had to do more with less, having had $1 billion cut from the $3 billion in state funding in the past five years, being down six percent of its faculty and staff and seeing increases in tuition and other fees, while at the same time seeing tens of thousands more students now enrolled at its campuses.
He said that despite those challenges, graduation rates continue to rise, because CSU faculty and staff are working harder to help students reach their academic goals.
“I feel a great sense of pride and purpose,” White said. “My hat is off to you.”
White also thanked the CSUSB campus community for its support of Proposition 30, which with its passage in November 2012 the CSU avoided a $250 million cut in state funding and an increase in tuition. White said its passage meant that California’s voters “were willing to pay more in taxes to start investing in education. I think they understood that education matters.”
When asked about his vision on online education at the CSU, he deadpanned, “Let’s get rid of all the employees and get a lot of monitors,” but then said the subject is complex and has to take into account issues of technology, student preparation and student contact with faculty. He added that while some aspects of online education may work for some students, it might not work for others.
The chancellor gave an example of a single parent with two children who finds it’s not possible to come to a college campus.
“We have a responsibility to them,” White said. “How do we help them?”
When asked about CSUSB converting to a semester system from its current quarter system, White said there are still ongoing discussions.
But the chancellor assured the audience that if there were to be a conversion, it would be several years away and then at least a three-year process, with most of the incurring costs covered by the CSU central office. There are currently six of the CSU’s 23 campuses that use the quarter system.
Of those, Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Bakersfield are in the process undergoing the conversion at their own choice, White said. The next in line would be San Bernardino and East Bay, followed by Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he added.
The chancellor also expressed his support for helping veterans who come to the CSU.
White’s visit also included meeting with students, including the university’s award-winning Model U.N. and Arab League teams, its award-winning cyber security program and its neurofeedback program.
The campus visit was consistent with White’s promise to visit every CSU campus before the end of the year. Prior to visiting San Bernardino, White spent two days at Cal Poly Pomona. The next campus he will visit is Cal State Fullerton.
White is the seventh chancellor of the 23-campus university system, which is the largest four-year public higher learning education system in the country. He officially succeeded previous CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed in December 2012.
Prior to his appointment at UCR in 2008, White was president of the University of Idaho from 2004 to 2008. He also served as a dean, provost and executive vice president, and interim president at Oregon State University.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, White immigrated with his family to Northern California, and is a first-generation college student who has matriculated within every college system in California. After beginning at Diablo Valley Community College, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, a master’s degree from Cal State Hayward (East Bay), and a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley.
For more information, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit http://news.csusb.edu.