Dear friends of Cal State Monterey Bay,
When I first expressed interest to California State University Chancellor Charles Reed in returning to California from Washington, D.C., I wasn’t necessarily thinking of Cal State Monterey Bay.
However, when the opportunity presented itself to become interim president of this campus, the more I thought about the idea, the more excited I got. And nothing that has happened since my wife Holly and I arrived in Monterey County in July has made me question that decision.
Serving as assistant secretary for postsecondary education in the Obama Administration for two years had given me a high-level look at the challenges facing our colleges and universities – challenges that go to the very core of where our nation, our economy and our society are heading.
We must increase the rate at which U.S. students earn college degrees. Our nation has slipped behind many leading industrial countries in the education level of its citizens. That is not sustainable if we are to compete in the global marketplace and educate the next generation of leaders and problem-solvers.
To achieve our goals, we must increase enrollments in the face of stagnant or declining resources. We also must reach out to minority populations, particularly Latinos. They will be the fastest-increasing segment of our population in the coming decades, but they do not historically have high rates of participation in higher education.
What university is better prepared to address these challenges than Cal State Monterey Bay?
Already, our student body is approximately one-third Latino; just over half of our students are first-generation.
However, this is not just about demographics, it is about attitude. Cal State Monterey Bay was founded by educators and community leaders who were dedicated to meeting the educational needs of our diverse population differently, through such innovations as an outcomes-based curriculum, service learning, and capstone experiences. We must build upon that legacy. In doing so, our university can become a model that others will follow.
In my conversations with faculty, staff and students on campus, I hope to share ideas and to tap into that creative spirit as we determine how we can make our university a leader in this new era of higher education.
This is a great place to be and I am looking forward to the dialogue, the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead.
Eduardo M. Ochoa, Interim President