By Yienessa Warren & Katy McCoy
Staff Writer/News Editor
California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White made visits throughout Bakersfield this week to explain to the community his plans for CSU campuses. White was appointed on Oct. 4, 2012 as CSU’s new chancellor. He addressed an audience at Saint John Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday regarding the importance of obtaining a college degree. He then spent the day at CSUB on Monday speaking to students, faculty and staff.
“Super Sunday” is an annual event apart of CSU’s outreach to educate black student students and families about the requirements to successfully enter college and obtain a degree. White spoke to a number of African Americans about the positive outcomes related to obtaining a college degree. ‘Super Sunday’ occurs each February and March encouraging black communities to plan for the future. He spoke about his childhood experiences and how he has grown to be the man he is today.
“If you would’ve met me as a child I would have never thought I’d amount to much or become a leader. I found my bearings in college,” said White.
White continued his speech by emphasizing the importance toward attaining a college degree and the benefits that are associated with it. “Going to Cal State is your ticket out,” said White regarding the issues concerning poverty.
Financial issues were also a key point addressed in his speech. “Do not let the cost get in the way of going to college,” exclaimed White.
“Every child particularly within the African American community has the opportunity to not only attend college but to graduate from college too,” said White.
The following day White visited CSUB to speak with students and faculty members about his interest in campus issues and involvement. About 30 students attended the morning session in the Student Union.
A number of student organizations gave presentations on behalf of their programs to White. Associated Students Inc. board members, Hawk Honors Program representatives, Sensational Sophomores, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and the Residence Hall Association informed White on the integrity of their programs and their involvement on campus.
The president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), Dalton Kelley, said in his presentation, “SAAC serves as the student-athletes’ primary vehicle for performing our numerous campus and community service activities,” said Kelley.
Alicia Andrade, Residence Hall Association president, discussed the events that take place within the residence halls and how they benefit students. “We provide events where students can socialize and gain a better housing community,” said Andrade.
After the presentations were made, White took to the podium. “You’re building a community,” he said regarding the involvement that takes place on campus.
“Rather than closing the doors, you opened them,” said White pointing out that CSUB did not limit enrollment due to budget cuts.
“I encourage you to continue your advocacy efforts,” said White.
Students were given the opportunity to ask questions.
Julia Gonzalez, a senior religious studies major, addressed the concern toward the future of the humanities programs and what is to be expected within the near future. White addressed his concern and said, “We are under pressure from outside to get work ready for graduates. That’s the reality of our time.” White did emphasize that “the university is committed” to helping out programs in need.
Kassandra Sanchez, a sophomore biology major, attended the event and spoke highly of White. She said, “He seems like he is willing to address any concerns we may have on issues throughout our campus and he wants to lead us forward into a successful future for the next generation to come.”
“I’m going to be visiting 23 campuses, but guess whose number one? Bakersfield,” White told students.
After White addressed students directly, a second meeting was held exclusively for faculty members.
Around 40 faculty members gathered inside of the Multi-Purpose Room to hear White’s strategy to help “re-enrich” the learning environment. White said he is aware that the financial aid situation is a “tight dance.”
Several ideas to help stabilize the financial strain included modest state investments along with modest tuition increases, as well as more campus-based fees. White also looks to increase financial aid for students. Besides economic issues, faculty members addressed the rising stress level of students. White also expressed his concern for students by adding that there were five suicides in one month at another CSU campus.
To help combat the rising pressure on students, White wants not only the Counseling Center but all faculty members to learn what the signs are for a student under immense stress. As an educator and parent, White personally understood the need to provide more support to students.
Nursing faculty member, Denise Johnson-Dawkins, voiced her concern about the future of many schools such as Arts and Humanities and Education and Social Sciences, as well as how the possible cuts could affect programs such as Nursing.
White’s press conference in the Dezember Leadership Development Center allowed an audience of students, staff, faculty, and various news outlets to gain more insight into the thoughts of the new chancellor. White explained that “connecting with students and faculty will help create opportunities to give back to others.”
Many questions that were asked at the faculty meeting were readdressed at the press conference. The public is more wary of investing in the school system due to the “problems surrounding CSU’s completion rate,” according to White.
White expressed the need to have an “educated workforce within the community.”
The chancellor also reaffirmed that his view on the financial condition of CSUB is “strong but precarious.” University state funding decreased by $900 million over the past five years, and although tuition and fees increased, the revenue was not enough to offset the deficit.
Despite possible increases in student fees, White claims that “tuition is expected to remain flat this year as well as next year” and that CSU campuses need to “learn how to effectively utilize public resources.”
White adds, “It’s not wise to hope to get back to the good old days.”
White’s first priority in his new position is to gain an understanding of all 23 campuses through observations and visits.
His second priority is to address the completion rate of CSU students. White looks to accommodate more first generation students by providing an on campus lifeline.
He also wants to create a more realistic time period for students working toward graduation with rising tuition costs and limited classes being offered, which makes the idea of graduating in four years more difficult to obtain.
However, Chancellor White remains optimistic while still maintaining a realistic outlook on CSUB’s future.
“We have a moral responsibility to do our part to make sure (students) are successful.”
White attended Diablo Valley Community College , Fresno State, California State University East Bay, and obtained his Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley. Before becoming appointed as CSU’s chancellor he served as the chancellor of UC Riverside.