After 14 years at the helm of one of the nation’s largest public higher education systems, California State University (CSU) Chancellor Charles Reed announced in May he is retiring.
Reed will leave the CSU his legacy of increased size and access, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said.
“Chancellor Reed has worked tirelessly to make sure the CSU is accessible,” Armstrong said.
Over Reed’s 14-year tenure, the public four-year institution has grown by more than 100,000 students, and he has signed over one million diplomas, according to the CSU’s release on Reed’s retirement.
Reed’s work has impacted not only the CSU but also the entire state of California by providing it with skilled and educated workers, Armstrong said. He said California needs college graduates who can work in the state and contribute to the economy — and the CSU provides that.
“Graduates from Cal Poly and across the CSU are driving California’s economy,” Armstrong said.
By increasing the size of the CSU, Reed also increased the number of graduates who live and work in California, Armstrong said.
Additionally, Reed has reached out to businesses and industries in California, involving them in program creation to produce graduates who are prepared for specific jobs.
Closer to home, Reed was instrumental in approving the Student Success Fee, a fee proposed last year by Cal Poly administration to help cover budget cut losses and provide more access to classes for current students.
After the fee passed a student advisory vote, it received Armstrong’s approval and was passed on to Reed to approve. Without the chancellor’s OK, the new fee would not have been implemented, Armstrong said.
“Without his approval, without his willingness to even consider the Student Success Fee, then we wouldn’t be opening up the multiple sections of labs,” Armstrong said.
Reed has also worked with the state government to increase accessibility to the CSU. In 2004, Reed worked with the California Department of Education to create the Early Access Program (EAP) — a voluntary test which assesses high school students’ readiness for college.
In addition to increasing access, Reed has focused on increasing the diversity of students in the CSU.
During his tenure, Reed created the Super Sundays events, involving African-American churches throughout California in reaching out to parishioners and bringing more African-American students to the CSU.
Reed also reached out to military bases in California, inviting service men and women to the CSU.
During this time, the CSU also partnered with the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) to help students from underserved communities get into the CSU. The PIQE program helps provide parents with information on how to support their children up to and during college.
All of these actions are part of continuing the CSU’s mission to providing as many California students as possible with higher education, CSU public affair assistant Liz Chapin said.
“The chancellor is really dedicated to getting the most students access,” Chapin said.
Reed’s time as chancellor has not been without challenges, however.
Starting in 2008, the CSU faced sharp budget cuts, which now total over $1 billion.
Despite sharp budget cuts, Reed has continued to prioritize access in the CSU, Chapin said.
“He has managed these (budget cuts) and still been able to provide access for more students despite the fact that funding for the CSU has been significantly reduced,” she said.
Reed’s time was also marked by protests and strikes from the California Faculty Association over faculty and administration pay levels, a result of tightening budgets in Reed’s last few years as chancellor.
Currently, Reed will remain chancellor of the CSU until a replacement is found. The CSU Board of Trustees, in charge of the search for Reed’s replacement, met in August to review potential candidates and list the qualities required in the next chancellor, Chapin said.
“Right now, they’re still outlining the entire process,” Chapin said.