Chancellor White Visits CSU Long Beach in Midst of System Challenge


Chancellor Timothy White at CSU Long Beach, Monday, October 14. 2013

On a warm Monday afternoon in a packed Anatol Center at CSU Long Beach,  newly recruited Chancellor of the CSU’s 23-campus system, Timothy White, easily charmed the audience of several hundred faculty, staff and students.  The cleverly humorous Chancellor  spoke of his enduring optimism in the mission of the CSU, California’s Master Plan, and the unique quality and success of CSU Long Beach in spite of six tight budget years.  Fielding some tough questions with the grace of a seasoned diplomatic, his answers were compassionate and perceptive with an underlying toughness.

When asked about faculty concerns that STEM disciplines were being privileged over the Humanities, White responded that he hoped his own young son, potentially a future scientist, should also be reading the Great Books.  On the question of Ethnic Studies in the CSU, he mentioned it should be preserved  either as programs, minors, or departments.  He has appointed former CSU LA President James Rosser to head his task force on this issue.  The Chancellor’s Ethnic Studies Task Force is charged with investigating enrollment rates and other data for Ethnic Studies programs in the 23-campus system before a recommendation is brought to the Board of Trustees for a vote.

He thoughtfully fielded the question of CSU LB’s next president and the secretive process of his or her selection in accordance with a new system policy that shelters candidates from campus visits and interviews to protect their professional privacy.  White mentioned that he had been selected in much the same manner and that our culture had changed since the past selection of both Presidents Maxim and Alexander. Now there are more openings than qualified “A-Team” candidates.  He did state that if the final short list of candidates were all willing, a campus visit would be arranged pending approval of the Search Committee and Trustees.

Chancellor White takes charge of  the CSU as it emerges from a bleak period of budget cuts, with a technology infrastructure in need of massive update and investment.  On Sunday, October 13,  the  Los Angeles Daily News ran an article “Bottleneck courses resulting in students struggling to graduate” , which identified nearly 1,300 bottleneck courses causing student delays to graduation.  Thirty-four percent of the courses are Liberal Arts (440 courses). The CSU identified the biggest factor causing this problem as “a lack of tenured faculty.”   In fact, according to CFA LB statistics, there were 848 tenure-line faculty in June 2009 with 29,266 undergraduate students and 824 tenure-line faculty in January 2013 with 30, 931 undergraduate students.   Student enrollment has increased while the number of tenure-line faculty has decreased, putting an extra burden of university service on younger tenure-line faculty and underpaid adjuncts.   White was also asked about the 4-4 workload at CSU Long Beach compared to other campuses.  He mistakenly equated this with a collective bargaining issue.  Actually each campus can determine faculty course load based upon their budget process. This explains the lower course load  at CSU Channel Islands, San Diego State and San Francisco State.

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