President Ochoa's Jan. 28 Speech to MPC Faculty and Staff
Dr. Ochoa discusses how Cal State Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula College can work together to meet regional education challenges.
Thank you. It is a great pleasure for me to be on your campus today. It is always good to see Dr. Tribley and our other colleagues here at Monterey Peninsula College.
Dr. Tribley and I and Dr. Lewallen at Hartnell are all part of what I think of as the Higher Education Class of 2012 in Monterey County.
We assumed our presidencies within a few months of one another, which, in some ways, was a great benefit. We all were learning about the issues facing our institutions and our communities on a similar timetable.And I think -- as the new kids on the block -- we have been able to build strong relationships which will be great assets going forward.
Back in 2012, when the word began to get around the Department of Education offices in Washington, D.C. that I would be leaving the Obama Administration to accept the job at Cal State Monterey Bay, many of my colleagues were quick to offer congratulations -- some with just a touch of envy. After all, the glories of the Monterey Peninsula are well-known –perfect weather, beautiful beaches, world-class golf courses, outstanding restaurants.
All this is true, of course, but it’s only part of thestory.
Lagging education indicators
What might surprise my former colleagues -- and what even surprises many long-time local residents -- is that Monterey County lags in many measures of education and economic well- being.
According to Census statistics, only 71 percent of county residents ages 25 and higher have high school diplomas, as compared to 81 percent statewide. Twenty-three percent of county residents have bachelor’s degrees. The statewide number is nearly 31 percent. Our per capita income figure – in a county where living expenses are high – is well below the state average as well.
Last year, the research and advocacy group Children Now ranked Monterey County as one of the worst in the state on several measures of education and children’s well-being. ChildrenNow found that:
· only 9 percent of low-income children have access to high-quality child care;
· only 34 percent of third-graders read at grade level;
· only 48 percent of high school graduates are ready for college-level math courses.
All of those figures are below state averages.
ChildrenNow uses a five-star rating system for each county in three different areas: education, health, and child welfare and economic well-being.
In the education category, Monterey County earned only two stars, along with Inyo and Kings counties.
Meanwhile, I often hear from people who say their children who do earn high school degrees and go onto college have to leave the area to find good jobs. So, when our system does produce success stories, frequently theytake their education and enthusiasm elsewhere.
Then, of course, there was last year’s ranking of Salinas—the county’s largest city—as the second least educated city in the United States.
All this doesn’t match up with the faraway view of the Central Coast of California as a prosperous paradise, which is certainly is for some of our fortunate residents, but by no means all.
The task ahead
However, the aggregate picture does effectively outline the task in front of us. What can our educational institutions do – what can MPC and CSUMB do – to improve the quality of life in this county for all of its residents?
We must move ahead in the full knowledge that Monterey County is on the leading edge of the demographic changes that are reshaping our state and nation. Census statistics show that 56.8 percent of our population is Hispanic, compared to 38.4 percent statewide. The county’s population is younger than the state as a whole; residents here are more likely to be foreign-born than statewide; and children here are significantly more likely to come from homes where a language other than English is spoken.
In our effort to meet the needs of that population, I am pleased to note that last year CSUMB established a College of Education and hired an outstanding dean to lead it – José Luis Alvarado. I hope some of you have had the chance to meet him. Dr. Alvarado came to this country from Mexico at age 10, faced challenges learning the language and was later told by his high school counselor that he wasn’t college material. This only motivated José Luis to prove his counselor wrong. He went on to earn an undergraduate degree from San Diego State and his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, He came to CSUMB after serving as associate dean for the College of Education at San Diego State.
As you might imagine, he has a great grasp of the issues involved in educating a majority-minority population. Since he came to campus last summer, Dr. Alvarado has been doing a particularly effective job of reaching out to leaders of local school districts.
A shared responsibility
One approach we could take to deal with the many issues facing Monterey County is to go through the challenges one by one and begin to determine who is responsible for finding solutions. However, I don’t think it gets us very far. Once we decide which is an early childhood education problem or a K-12 problem or a higher education problem or an economic development problem, where do we go from there?
Instead, we need to come up with strategies that allow us to act cooperatively, collectively. We must work together to use all the expertise and resources at our disposal to implement effective change.
That is the principle behind the Bright Futures initiative, which we have moved forward at CSUMB. We are helping organize a community partnership of local education, social service, business and philanthropic groups to support an improved cradle-to-career educational pipeline.
Our initiative will be based on a model adopted by more than 100 communities across the country. In Monterey County, we want to ensure that every child is prepared for school and is supported inside and outside the classroom; that every student succeeds in school, enrolls in some form of post-secondary education, graduates, and enters a career.
The Bright Futures initiative is just one aspect of what I see as the future of CSUMB, and the role that it will playin our region.
In the next decade, I see CSU Monterey Bay at the heart of a 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 believe the relationship between our two institutions will be a vital part of the implementation of this vision.
Achieving more together
For us, working together is not a choice, it is an imperative. When I talk about my goals for CSUMB, I do it with the full knowledge that there are serious limits to what my university can achieve on its own.
While our financial situation has improved since the depths of the Great Recession, our state funding still falls well short of what it once was. As a result, we are expected to admit and to graduate more students without substantially more resources.
Just like the faculty and staff of CSUMB, I am sure the people in this room are tired of hearing how we must do more with less. Maybe now, with the economy improving, the mantra has changed to “we must do much more with just a little more.”
Either way, it will take the best efforts of both of our institutions to produce optimal outcomes in the years ahead. By sharing ideas and resources, we can accomplish more together than wecould ever do separately.
For example, let’s look at one specific program – hospitality management. The hospitality industry is secondonly to agriculture as an economic driver for Monterey County. Shortly afterarriving at CSUMB, I met with hospitality industry leaders and found they were enthusiastic about working with CSUMB on academic programs designed to meet their needs.
John Avella – who has a strong record of accomplishment in the hospitality industry – is leading the development of our hospitality program in our new College of Business.
We have developed the Sustainable Hospitality Management major, which joins traditional hospitality management courses with our business college’s multi-dimensional focus. Students in the major will look at the concept of “sustainability plus”, addressing issues through a five-dimensioned lens of People, Ethics, Equity, Planet and Profit.
The major is designed to help students gain the hands-on knowledge and skills needed to pursue careers in hospitality with a focus on “green” jobs in business and industry.
As we developed this program, our business college reached out to MPC and Cabrillo College, where faculty conducted a survey of students in hospitality-related programs. The survey found that about two-thirds of respondents were interested in going on to obtain a 4-year degree.
That level of interest provided yetanother reason for us to move ahead. As a result, John Avella is working withMolly Jansen, department chair of your hospitality program, to explore ways to coordinate our programs going forward.
This initiative provides a worthwhile template for how we can proceed. Determine what the community needs, match that with student demand, and find partners to help make it work.
First nursing graduates
Another example is nursing.
In December, we were proud to hold our first pinning ceremony for graduates of our bachelor of science in nursing program. We began the program in 2012, in collaboration with four regional community colleges, including MPC.
Again, the program was organized to respond to a community need in the most cost-effective way possible. Students begin their education at one of the community colleges, spend time in a "blended" learning environment, and then complete their studies at CSUMB.
In our first class of 10 graduates, two had earned their associates degree at MPC.
More areas of cooperation
Our provost Bonnie Irwin is planning to set up dean and department chair meetings with representatives from your college this semester.We want to explore other areas of potential cooperation, as well as the articulation agreements that would ease the transition for students moving from MPC to CSUMB. We look forward to having more progress to cite in the coming months.
From talking to Dr. Tribley, I know that he is a supporter of dual admissions programs between two-year and four-year schools, which have been effective in other states. Dr. Irwin is also interested in looking at the possibility of dual admissions between our twoinstitutions.
As you probably have heard, Cal State Monterey Bay has seen a surge in applications in recent years. Our freshmen applications for next fall’s class were up by 5 percent over the previous year. We received more than 15,000 applications from first-time freshmen applying for admission next fall.
That is the seventh consecutive year that our freshmen applications set a record.
In response to this rise in student applications – which have grown faster atCSUMB than at CSU campuses as a whole -- our university has taken steps necessary to declare impaction. That will allow us to establish additional admissions standards for students from outside our three-county service area. As a result, we will be better able to control our enrollment numbers goingforward.
At the same time, we may very well end up turning away a growing number of qualified students. For those students who are focused on attending school in this area-- and interested in taking the first two years of their degree program at MPC-- dual admission between our institutions may be a viable option.
Our applicants for admission to CSUMB this fall included 261 MPC students. Of those students, 219 were accepted and 111 enrolled. Both of those figures are the highest ever coming to our university from MPC. We know from experience that MPC students who complete two years here and then transfer to CSUMB have had excellent results.
Another promising area of potential collaboration is remedial courses. Unfortunately, at CSUMB and at most public universities, significant numbers of qualified applicants still require remediation in math, English or both subjects. I know that MPC faces the same issue.
Rather than providing similar courses at both of our campuses, we should explore ways for MPC to provide more of that instruction to our incoming students. It is another way for our two campuses to coordinate programs to better meet the needs of students and eliminate duplicative services.
Closer cooperation raises a number of issues – everything from academic calendaring to space needs to transportation. But none should be insurmountable barriers.
Open to changes
If nothing else, I think the economic reverses of the Great Recession delivered the message to public higher education that we need to be nimble and flexible.
The traditional view of universities is that they are hidebound and resistant to change. I have the good fortune to lead a campus that was founded by educational innovators, and that spirit remains in our DNA. During my tenure at CSUMB, I have found that faculty and staff are open to new ideas and initiatives and are willing to step forward with extraordinary efforts when needed. For example, this fall, when our incoming class significantly exceeded our original projections, they came together to meet the challenge. I was proud of their efforts.
I sense that same spirit on this campus. I think we all understand that business as usual is no longer an option.
Certainly, in my meetings with Dr. Tribley and other MPC leaders, I have found an eagerness to bring new ideas into the discussion.
I value his candor and his leadership. It is an invaluable asset to us, because I know that it is impossible for Cal State Monterey Bay to achieve the high goals I have set for our campus without having Monterey Peninsula College as an active partner.
George Bernard Shaw once said: "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."
I appreciate the opportunity to share ideas with you today and I look forward to continuing the dialogue in the months and years ahead.