Office of the President

Investiture Speech, Nov. 15, 2013

Dr. Ochoa lays out his vision for Cal State Monterey Bay at his investiture ceremony.

Trustee Norton, Chancellor White, Honorable Leon Panetta, members of the faculty, staff, students, administrators, dear family and friends, and honored guests: good afternoon – buenas tardes.

Welcome to this day of celebration of California State University, Monterey Bay, on the occasion of my investiture as the third president of this extraordinary institution. I am honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by the CSU Board of Trustees and Chancellor White, and by the welcoming embrace extended by the community to Holly and me.

I join an outstanding university,which began as a remarkable experiment, has blossomed into a national leader in community engagement, and is now poised to help lead the Central Coast region into a thriving, sustainable future.

Before expanding on those themes, I need to thank the members of the Investiture Committee—led by Vice President Barbara Zappas—for their outstanding work in organizing today’s festivities. I extend a special thanks to our Service Learning Director, Professor Seth Pollock, who has organized a remarkable Day of Service tomorrow to celebrate the occasion, with dozens of sites and hundreds of participants fanning out throughout our region. I also want to recognize our own professor Diana García, for the wonderful, luminous poem that she crafted for this occasion, that captures the history and the promise of this place and this university.

On this day we are also joined by CSUMB’s founding president, Dr. Peter Smith, who led our university through its early development. Welcome and thank you, Dr. Smith.

I am also very happy to welcome so many of my fellow CSU presidents, an outstanding group of women and men completely dedicated to the mission of the CSU in support of our students and the people of California and the nation. As I acknowledge them, this is a good opportunity to observe something for which I gained renewed appreciation during my time in Washington, DC: the California State University is an outstanding university system, a national leader with a clear, focused mission of critical importance to the nation, a mission it executes extremely well and very efficiently.

And finally, I want to recognizeHolly, my life-long friend and companion, my wife for 42 years, with whom Ihave shared the highs and lows of a remarkable journey, and whose support has been steadfast and true. She is here with our two wonderful sons, Michael and Eric, as well as her sister Alexa andher family, and her niece Elizabeth and her family. Thank you for joining us. And a big hello to my cousin Elisabeth and her two sons, with whom we are now neighbors.

Importance of family

Family is important. On an occasion such as this, I feel deeply the sense of being part of a quest spanning multiple generations and continents, each generation striving to improve what was bequeathed to it.

My great-grandfather Crispín Ochoa emigrated from the Basque country of Spain to Argentina intending to be a shepherd, but instead enlisted on the great literacy campaign of President Domingo Sarmiento and became a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in the interior of the country. His son—my grandfather—Ernesto Ochoa was the first one in his family to attend university in Buenos Aires, and became a medical doctor and high school vice-principal. My grandmother was also a principal, of a primary school.

Their son—my late father—Ernesto Agustín Ochoa became a biochemist, married his college sweetheart, and made the fateful decision to migrate with our family to the United States in 1965, from the South American megalopolis of Buenos Aires to the evergreen splendor of Portland, Oregon. My parents couldn’t adapt to a new culture; they eventually returned to Argentina, and ultimately, my father’s work took them to Mexico.

Unfortunately, the wanderings took their toll on their marriage. But their efforts to better provide for us gave me the opportunities that I have been so fortunate to enjoy, and for which I will always be grateful. My mother always fought to give me and my brothers the best possible education. Now 90 years old, she can’t be with us today, but she may be watching us from Mexico over streaming video. If you arethere, cariños, mamá, y muchas graciaspor todo lo que has hecho por mí.

A unique institution

And so each of us who have come to CSUMB have brought our own unique history and experiences that resonate with, and contribute to the uniqueness of this institution.

For the founding faculty and staff, it was the intriguing opportunity to create something new on a blank slate, something that would reflect the state of knowledge of best practices in higher education circa 1994. It attracted a self-selected type of faculty and staff who did not fear change but welcomed it, sought it out. They crafted a remarkably prescient vision statement that provided a broad framework for future development. And they incorporated such innovative practices as service learning; outcomes-based curriculum design; capstone projects; learning communities; interdisciplinary programs; a commitment to social justice and access for underserved communities.

After its first ten years, CSU Monterey Bay had achieved national prominence as a place where innovative educational practices were the norm, and that is still its perceived identity at the national level.

During the next phase of its life, CSUMB clarified its character as a residential destination campus serving a statewide student population, it strengthened core institutional capacity in administration, student services, and athletics, gained strength in math and natural sciences, and developed campus facilities, creating a stronger sense of place and campus life, while continuing to serve previously underserved communities in the region.

Alumni successes

And fundamentally, we are an institution dedicated to its students, so let me share with you a few success stories.

AngelaLouie Howard is the founder and executive director of Lotus Bloom Child& Family Resource Center in Oakland. Lotus Bloom provides critical early education and support programs for multicultural, low-income families with children under 5 years old. Angela received a degree in liberal studies with an emphasis in human communication is 1999. She says of her CSUMB education that it “empowered me to organize and create change and contribute to my community.” Ms. Howard has won several civic awardsfor community service, including the Jefferson Award in 2013.

Juan Perez, a child of farm workers, studied science and environmental policy at CSUMB and went on to join his family in launching a small family-run farm and delivery service. J&P Organics provides organically-grown vegetables and fruits around Monterey County. Mother Nature network named him to its national list of 40 farmers under 40 who are “nurturing the food revolution from their own back yards.”

Jakob Heuser is the principal web developer for LinkedIn, a social networking website for people in professional occupations. He is a 2004 CSUMB graduate, who, after working for two years in Silicon Valley, enrolled in CSUMB’s on-line Master of Instructional Science program. Hecompleted his masters in 2008, the same year he joined LinkedIn. He was then one of 10 employees; LinkedIn now has 4,200 employees and more than 225 million members in more than 200 countries.

Fulfilling the vision

Our university was created thanks to the vision of leaders like Leon Panetta, Sam Farr, and others who saw a base closure with potentially devastating economic impact as an opportunity to turn “swords into plowshares,” and to lay a cornerstone for a new path of economic, social, and cultural flourishing for Monterey County and the Central Coast region.

As I have described, CSUMB has come a long way toward the fulfillment of that vision, but more remains to be done. Our physical campus remains a work in progress, and we await the removal of dozens of unusable buildings from the former base. Our enrollment size—at5,700—remains substantially below the minimum efficient scale for a CSU campus.

There is good news on both of these fronts. Last week, the Board of Trustees adopted a budget for next year that includes funding to support a list of critical deferred-maintenance projects. Among those projects is the full removal of all the remaining obsolete former base buildings on our campus.

Also, while we have not yet received the final enrollment target for next year, all indications are that the CSU will move to fund higher-than-average enrollment growth rates for smaller campuses like CSUMB, precisely to accelerate transition to efficient scale of operations across the system. The accompanying increase in State support will allow us to address not only the direct costs that come with the higher enrollment, but also allow us to better fund and staff the associated support functions and other fixed costs of the institution.

And what will we do with ourexpanded scale and capacity? That will depend on the combined dedication and ingenuity of our faculty, staff, and students, but I think I can outline the general contours of what we can accomplish, based on what I have learned about our community’s needs and aspirations.

Fundamentally, we will continue to grow and develop our academic programs, focusing on our areas of strength, the needs of our community, and the core disciplines required for a mature comprehensive university. We will strengthen and develop programs in business and the sciences to address the needs of the two basic industries of our region: agriculture and hospitality. We will continue to develop the marine science program to leverage the incomparable resource that is the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. And we will strengthenthe liberal arts core of our curriculum and its associated disciplines, which is the genius of the American model of higher education.

We will develop a leadership role to coalesce all regional forces around the challenge of raising the educational success of our young people, from cradle to career. We will proactively engage our postsecondary partners, our feeder high schools, and assist our primary schools and prepare their teachers to ensure that more students stay in school, complete their primary and secondary education, and obtain a postsecondary credential or college degree that will lead to successful jobs and rewarding lives and careers.

We will also look for ways to create the community ecosystem and campus culture that leads to research,commercialization, and start-up formation around new clean technologies and services that flourish around universities acting as catalysts of sustainable development. We will do this because itis not enough to succeed in educating our young. We must also have quality jobs for them to be able to stay in their communities and raise families here if they wish to.

Improving quality of life

Over time and as we grow, we will enhance the arts and humanities in our university so we can make a growing contribution to the cultural life of our community and state. When casting the widest net, the contributions of a university extend to the quality of life of the community and to helping to define what makes us human, what constitutes a meaningful life and a good society. CSUMB’s founding vision gets that, and it should continue to be a touchstone for us.

Ten years from now, I envision CSUMonterey Bay at the heart of a thriving and flourishing community, with 10,000 students, a healthy complement of full-time faculty, with new buildings and facilities designed to support our academic programs, with high-quality programs in business, computer science, the natural sciences, health professions, the arts, education, and other disciplines. I see us acting as a catalyst and intellectual resource for strategic regional economic development. I see us partnering with all sectors of education in raising the educational achievement level of our youth. I see our service learning and community engagement role expanded from support of community-based organizations to partnering with leaders of all social sectors in charting the future of our region. And I see us unlocking the tremendous potential of the diversity of our students, staff, faculty, and community to achieve inclusive excellence in preparing our graduates for the global, multicultural society that they will live in. That is what I see in our future.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve with you in this noble endeavor.

Related:

See photos of the Investiture Ceremony.

Read Professor Diana Garcia's poem, A Passionate Patience, written for the occasion of his investiture.