Stay up to date with the latest news and information on California higher education. Plus, blogs that are unabashedly pro-higher education, offering what you need to know to be a passionate advocate for our colleges and universities.

Higher Education Coalition Leaders Laud Newsom Budget Proposal

Newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom has released his initial Budget proposal for the 2019-20 fiscal year.  Higher ed fared better in the Newsom proposal than it did in previous years.

Budget Response from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine—Co-chairs California Coalition for Public Higher Education:

“Governor Newsom should be congratulated for a constructive 2019-2020 Budget proposal that restores higher education as a State priority,” commented Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education.  “The University of California, California State University and our community colleges will have additional resources to maintain quality, expand access and ease the cost burden on students and their families.”

All three segments of the public higher education system will receive additional funds:

* The University of California will receive a $240 million increase (6.9%) in operating funds, plus an additional one-time outlay of $153 million, primarily for deferred maintenance.

* California State University will receive a $318 million increase (8%) for operations plus a one-time allocation of $264 million.

* California community colleges are slated to receive an added $401 million. The State would now cover two full years of free community college.

Op-Ed: Higher ed is a prerequisite for our future. Community colleges are key to that.

On Jan. 2, 2019, CALmatters published an op-ed by Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges and a regent of the University of California,  titled, “Higher ed is a prerequisite for our future. Community colleges are key to that.” Here’s an excerpt:

The entire education system and especially post-secondary education is charged with the monumental task of producing educated people who are informed, up to date, trained and enthusiastic about being part of the thriving whole. To be successful, a long-term view incorporating visionary, inclusive initiatives to improve higher education in California is required.

In other words, we must think big and be unapologetically bold.

California has significant challenges in workforce readiness, equity and poverty. But we start our next four-year chapter with a new governor, new education leaders and opportunities to improve education across the board and put in place ways to open the doors to higher education for all.

Data supporting the need to start this chapter with bold moves to improve California higher education is on the brink of being overwhelming. Not only is the country facing a skilled workforce shortage, but the future job market will require that more than 65 percent of workers possess a college degree or credential by 2020.

Such daunting realities clearly demand solutions that accommodate college-ready high schoolers, returning veterans and workers who need enhanced skills for economic mobility.

Keeping ahead of poverty is yet another proof point in the case for improving higher education in California, the state with 7.4 million people living in poverty.

The op-ed concludes:

All of these factors make it clear higher education is the lynchpin to our future. Now, as we enter a new era of leadership, we have a chance to be bold with solutions to ensure that the future is bright for Californians and the state economy alike.

Read the complete op-ed on the CALmatters website.

New op-ed: How Newsom could create a new golden era for higher education

On Dec. 7, 2018, CALMatters published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “How Newsom could create a new golden era for higher education.” Here’s an excerpt:

Pat Brown was a true champion of higher education, but Jerry Brown has never made support for the University of California or the Cal State system a big part of his agenda.

Now, incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom has the potential to pick up the mantle and, once again, make higher education a top state priority.

Californians get it.  A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found that most voters say that there is not enough state funding for higher education.  Three-quarters of the electorate believes that higher education should be a high priority for our new governor.

Newsom has said that a significant increase in the investment in higher education is high on his agenda. With the state’s fiscal health in good shape, that should be possible.

The article concludes:

Boosting higher education funding would be a good start. But the new governor should address the future of our public higher education system and its integral role in the well-being of all Californians.

There is much to be done:

* Restore per-student state funding to traditional levels.

* Assure a stable, ongoing revenue flow from the state that will enable our higher education institutions to plan and grow responsibly.

* Make a long-term commitment for new classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, technology and other infrastructure needs that will reverse years of neglect and provide state of the art facilities on our campuses.

* Harness new technology to enhance the educational experience, increase productivity and provide additional avenues for more Californians to access our higher education system.

If Gov. Newsom and Legislature, in concert with the leadership of UC, CSU and the community colleges—seriously tackle these challenges, the Newsom years could become a new golden age for California higher education.

Read the complete op-ed on the CALMatters website.

Californians want more funding for public higher education [videos]

Following the Nov. 14, 2018, release of a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, which found most Californians believe higher education should be a top priority for the new governor, PPIC researcher Lunna Lopes outlined key findings in Sacramento.

The following day in San Francisco, PPIC president Mark Baldassare and Monica Lozano, president of the College Futures Foundation, talked about the survey’s implications for governor-elect Gavin Newsom.



The three leaders of California’s higher education systems joined in a civic event convened by the California Coalition for Public Higher Education.   University of California President Janet Napolitano, California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and California State University Chancellor Tim White spoke to the strides that have been made in the enrollment and graduation of California students and the fiscal challenges facing all three institutions.

President Napolitano and Chancellor Oakley reported on the unprecedented agreement that will assure all qualified community college graduates the opportunity to transfer to a UC campus.  Chancellor White highlighted CSU’s role as the primary source of teachers, engineers and other essential members of the state’s workforce.

Although all three leaders acknowledged the recent progress in gradually increasing State support for higher education, there was a recognition that overall State funding for higher education remains well below historic levels.  They also emphasized the critical need to address the infrastructure demands for all three systems.

Coalition Co-chair Mel Levine, who moderated the discussion, brought up concerns about some recent legislative efforts to micro-manage public higher education, which has traditionally benefited from the leadership of independent boards.

Nearly a hundred civic and community leaders attended the September 24 event at the Los Angeles home of Chip and Carrie Robertson.


UC campuses earn top spots on US News & World Report’s Best Colleges list

On September 10, 2018, the University of California issued a press release titled, “UC campuses earn top spots on US News & World Report’s Best Colleges list”:

University of California campuses scored half of the top 10 spots for the best public undergraduate education in the nation on the U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Colleges rankings released today (Sept. 10).

UCLA and UC Berkeley took the first and second spots, respectively, while UC Santa Barbara came in fifth. UC Irvine was No. 7, UC Davis was No. 10 and UC San Diego took the 12th spot this year. UC Santa Cruz (No. 26), UC Riverside (No. 35) and UC Merced (No. 67) rounded out the rankings.

The U.S. News & World Report ranks universities each fall to help inform prospective students’ decisions on where to apply, taking into account academic reputation, financial resources and selectivity in admissions.

This year, the magazine changed its methodology to better reflect social mobility in its overall rankings for both public and private universities. As a result, most UC campuses saw a significant rise in their standings. UC Riverside had the biggest improvement of any university nationwide, vaulting to No. 85 from No. 124, while UC Merced jumped to No. 136, up 29 spots.

Learn more about UC’s excellence in these and other rankings here.

New Op-Ed: Higher Education is Key to California Economy

On August 27, 2018, The Los Angeles Business Journal published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “Higher Education is Key to California Economy”:

By Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine

Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine co-chair the California Coalition for Public Higher Education. Ackerman is a former California State Senator and Assemblyman, and Levine is a former U.S. Congressman and State Assemblyman

California continues to flourish and higher education is the secret sauce that nourishes the state’s economy.  Our world class academic institutions are at the center of the innovation, creativity, technological advances and biomedical breakthroughs that make California a national and international pacesetter. It is no wonder that the Golden State has the world’s fifth largest economy.

The backbone of California’s “brainpower advantage” is the state’s unmatched public higher education system that encompasses the University of California, California State University and  a statewide network of community colleges.  The challenge is to keep this system on top of its game, while competing with other State priorities.

The case for investment in public higher education is strong.  California community colleges are the largest provider of workforce training in the nation.  CSU is the largest source of the state’s diverse workforce.  For every dollar California invests in students who graduate from college, there is a $4.50 return on that investment.

In addition to its vital role in educating the scientists, engineers, physicians, educators, business executives and other professional and cultural leaders, the University of California is a research enterprise that is second to none.  UC has produced more than 1800 inventions.  There are more than 10,000 active patents based on UC research and more than a thousand new companies have been founded as a result of UC patents.  From critical medical advances to new horizons for agriculture, UC is contributing mightily to California’s economy and to the health and well-being of millions around the world.

Much of the success of UC, CSU and the community colleges flows from the wisdom of State leaders who had the vision to invest in building the world’s best public higher education system. But as the State has faced major fiscal challenges over the years, Sacramento’s commitment to higher education faltered. Per student State support for UC and CSU remain dramatically lower than it was two decades ago. This has forced tuition increases and handicapped the systems’ ability to accommodate qualified students.  Fortunately, that tide has begun to turn.  Per student State funding for community colleges is now at an all time high and recent State Budgets have begun to restore funding for UC and CSU.

Higher education funding, however, is nowhere near where it needs to be.  The Public Policy Institute of California has project that the California workforce will need more than a million additional college graduates within a decade.  More and more, productive careers depend on education beyond high school.  College graduate earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more during their careers than high school graduates.  Higher education is key to opportunity and to maintaining a dynamic economy.

In many respects public higher education is at a turning point in California.  With a new Governor, there will be a fresh opportunity to address the state’s commitment to higher education and to construct a long-term funding mechanism that will sustain and grow the system’s ability to serve the young Californians who are the state’s future and to serve as the linchpin of California’s economic success.

Given the programs and interests that will compete for every Budget dollar, it is imperative that those who recognize the vital role of higher education step up to the plate and advocate for making higher education a top State priority.  That particularly includes the business community that must make this issue front and center.


You’re Invited: Meet California’s Higher Ed Leaders in Los Angeles

Tickets are $500 per person, which will support the California Coalition for Public Higher Education.

RSVP to Ana Druk via email or call (818)879-1195.

Donations can be made via the Coalition’s website or mailed to:

638 Lindero Canyon Road, #263
Oak Park, CA 91377

Sponsorships available at $10,000 and $5,000 levels


New Op-Ed: Budget Deal Leaves Higher Education Short

On June 15, 2018, Fox & Hounds published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “Budget Deal Leaves Higher Education Short.” Here’s an excerpt:

For a few days, it appeared that Sacramento’s budget-makers were on the right track, but the final Budget numbers once again fall short when it comes to higher education funding. The Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee had approved the modest “full funding” requests to enable campuses to increase enrollment and avoid further tuition increases. But that decision didn’t survive the chopping block when Governor Jerry Brown and Legislative leaders hammered out a final Budget deal—leaving UC support basically flat and providing CSU with only a limited boost over the Governor’s May proposal. What additional monies that were provided relied primarily on one-time funding rather than ongoing support. How can campuses admit four-year students with only one-year funding?

The op-ed continues:

The Governor has stressed the importance of having a robust “rainy day” fund to prepare for a downturn in the economy. Well, UC and CSU have been experiencing more than two decades of rainy days. Per student State support for UC has been cut in half and per student State funding for CSU is down more than a quarter. All the while, student enrollment has continued to increase and applications are setting records. It is not enough that recent budgets have stopped siphoning off higher education funding and provided some fiscal relief for both UC and CSU. The time has come to reinvest in higher education for the sake of California’s future.

Read the complete op-ed on the Fox & Hounds website.

Gov. Deukmejian and UC: A Unique Partnership

On Aug. 7, 2018, The Capitol Morning Report published a column from David Pierpont Gardner, who served as president of the University of California from 1983 to 1992, titled, “Gov. Deukmejian and UC: A Unique Partnership.” Here’s an excerpt:

The Governor and I met at his request in Los Angeles two months after my appointment as President (1983). After lunch, and in response to his question, I informed him that significant numbers of UC’s faculty were being recruited away from the University and we weren’t having much luck in stemming the tide. I also pointed out that the heart of the University is its faculty and the overall quality of any University depends mostly upon the quality of its faculty. I also noted that the overall quality of the University of California, taking all nine campuses together, was without parallel anywhere in the world.

After lunch, and following a 20-minute conversation, I provided him with specific examples of the problem. He then turned to his budget officer for the dollars we would be talking about if State funds were to be used to stem this loss. With that information, and encouragement from me to increase salaries in one year rather than two or three years as he had earlier suggested, he directed his budget officer to make provision in the upcoming 1984-85 budget for an 18 percent increase in faculty salaries.

After a similar conversation of about 45 minutes as to the condition of our grounds and buildings, libraries, classrooms, clinics and the like, the Governor directed his budget officer to include an increase of 30 percent in UC’s general budget for the 1984-85 fiscal year, including increases for the staff and a modest reduction in student tuitions. By the end of the 1985-1986 fiscal year, all of what UC had lost over the previous 16 years had been made up. The University’s capital budget also rose by 1500 percent during Deukmejian’sadministration as well.

Throughout our conversation over lunch that memorable day, I was impressed with the depth of the Governor’s questions, his knowledge of the subject, the always informal and supportive comments from his three closest advisers and his gentle courtesy to all, including me. What a day!

This reinvestment in UC transcended political expediency and defied political calculation. It was a bold and utterly surprising move that rescued a great University and all it has come to mean for California’s standing in the nation and the world. Deukmejian did it — with the help of the rebounding California economy — without raising taxes.

The clear lesson of his political legacy is that governors matter. So do the values they bring to office. Deukmejian’s included a respect for education’s transformative power in creating the climate of opportunity that distinguishes our society from so many others. Unfailingly dedicated to the welfare of the State as a whole, he was always informed, honest, straightforward, thorough, and as good as his word when once committed. Working with him was sheer pleasure. George Deukmejian was a great man who made a lasting difference to the State and to its world-famous University of California. His passing is a loss to both.

Read the complete article on The Capitol Morning Report website.