Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes greets a community member after her speech. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Cal State San Marcos President Karen Haynes on Thursday called for a “New American Dream” in which everyone who wants a college education can obtain it.

“We must reset our compass toward this new reality — the “new American Dream” of a college education for all in our region who seek it,” she said, arguing that only with a college education can young Californians meet the employment challenges of the future.

Haynes spoke to a crowd of more than 600 political and community leaders at the university’s 12th annual Report to the Community. The speech took place in a large tent erected near the Sprinter station on the growing North County campus.

She said the American dream once required just a high school education and a steady job, but now is based on a college education and a willingness to innovate in the global economy.

“The jobs of today, and certainly of tomorrow, require skill sets and experiences beyond high school levels,” she said. “Yet projections show that at today’s enrollment rates, by the year 2030 California will suffer a 1.1 million degree gap.”

During the speech, she summarized a number of the university’s central themes, including innovation in education, support for veterans, experiential learning, a focus on the future, and especially diversity, citing statistics that over half of the institution’s 14,000 students are from an under-representative minority.

“For the past three years, over half of our graduates have been the first in their families to achieve a four-year college degree,” she noted.

Her speech was briefly challenged by the shouts of a dozen students outside the tent protesting changes at the university’s Office of Diversity. Haynes didn’t address the commotion, but said in her speech, “Our story is proactive — one told by our long standing commitment to help all students feel safe,valued and appreciated.”

Turning to how the university is preparing students for the future economy, she cited a new master’s degree in cybersecurity and programs in tourism management, palliative care, and what she called “engibeering” for the growing San Diego craft beer industry.

The 25-year-old institution is in the midst of a $50 millon fundraising campaign, and Haynes announced that the halfway point had been reached.

“No other university in the CSU system, and likely in the nation, has attempted such a campaign at such a youthful age,” she said.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.