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.

Orange County Register Editorial Board: “Invest in UC system or lose a key California asset”

On March 14, 2018, The Orange County Register Editorial Board published, “Invest in UC system or lose a key California asset.”  Here’s an excerpt:

As the Los Angeles Times reported, UC Berkeley and UCLA still were ranked in the top 10 universities in the world, which in this survey, by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, included both public and private schools.

The good news is that UC Berkeley is still tied with Harvard for third and that UCLA, the most-applied-to university anywhere, is still in seventh place.

But the alarming news is that the biggest declines in department rankings also came at those two campuses, which have long been at the top of the University of California heap. UCLA saw its rankings go down in 22 subjects and improve in four while Berkeley went down in 15 areas and up in just two. In the economically crucial fields of civil and structural engineering, UCLA’s ranking went down from 40th to 51st and Berkeley’s from second to fifth.

“There has been a steady, sustained disinvestment in the UC and this is the inevitable result,” Shane White, chairman of the UC Academic Senate, told the Times. “This is probably the tip of the iceberg.”

It is impossible to overstate the economic and cultural impact the University of California has had on our state. If we don’t continue to invest both public monies and crank up the private fundraising each campus must now do on its own, we risk losing a very important Golden State asset for us all.

Read the full editorial on The Orange County Register’s website.

Senators, Students, Faculty Call for Full Funding, Tuition Freeze

On March 12, 2018, California State Sen. Steve Glazer, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Student Success, issued this release, “Senators, Students, Faculty Call for Full Funding, Tuition Freeze”:

A broad, bipartisan coalition of legislators, students and faculty called for full funding and a tuition freeze for students at the California State University and the University of California at a Capitol news conference Monday.

Both CSU and UC are considering tuition increases to compensate for a shortfall in the Governor’s budget. CSU is seeking $171 million more in state funding to avoid tuition hikes and to provide greater access to more qualified California students; UC is seeking $105 million more.

“The UC Regents and the CSU Trustees are now on the verge of passing yet another tuition hike,” said Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Student Success. “We cannot let this happen. The Legislature needs to step up. We must make this investment – not just in our children but in the future of our great state.”

“In a year when state budget revenues are expected to be robust, and when we’ve already raised tuition so much, we shouldn’t be imposing more tuition increases on the families of students at our public universities,” said Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “Investing state resources in preserving college affordability must be a priority, for the sake of today’s young people and for the future of our state.

The Governor’s budget proposed a 3 percent increase for both CSU and UC, or a $92 million boost from last year. But, both institutions say that leaves them in a position of having to make up for shortfalls. To ensure tuitions remain flat, CSU is seeking $263 million more than last year; UC says it needs $197 million more than last year

Full funding would allow CSU to cover expanding access to qualified California students (3,641 additional FTE students); its Graduation Initiative 2025; agreed-upon compensation increases for faculty and other employees; and some infrastructure needs, including critical deferred maintenance.

For the UC, full funding would cover the expansion of access (500 California undergraduates, 500 graduate students); catch-up funding for recent enrollment growth (1,500 students); and faculty hiring, academic counseling, student mental health services, graduate students support and classroom facilities.

Joining Sens. Glazer and Allen were Democratic and Republican members of the Assembly and Senate, CSU and UC students and faculty.

How and why Cal State Fullerton students launch companies before they graduate

On January 30, 2018, The Orange County Register reported on, “How and why Cal State Fullerton students launch companies before they graduate.”  Here’s an excerpt:

When the students in Cal State Fullerton’s New Venture Creation and Funding class created startups during fall semester, they had mentors and a professor to give them advice, templates to create their business plans, a panel of investors to hear their pitches and the resources of Mihaylo College of Business and Economics behind them.

They hadn’t yet had to max out their credit cards or ask parents and friends for money to realize their dreams. In fact, they hadn’t even graduated yet.

The class, part of Mihaylo’s Entrepreneurship program, attracts students who don’t aspire to work for Amazon or Bank of America, said John Bradley Jackson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, but who want to do their own thing. …

The student teams in Jackson’s class each came up with a “business model canvas,” which lays out infrastructure, offerings, customers and financing. They incorporated surveys and interviews with prospective customers into their research, constantly tweaking their ideas before presenting them to a panel of investors, who pointed out problems no one saw and suggestions to make the idea better. …


Many ideas die as soon as the presentation is over. But some grow into real revenue-producing concerns. In the process, concepts shift, company names change and business models get tweaked.

Successful business launches from previous entrepreneurship students include Bootlegger’s Brewery, a craft beer maker in Fullerton; Wecademi, which connects struggling students with tutors who have taken the same class; and Piano with Jonny, which offers online piano lessons.

Read the complete article on The Orange County Register website.

California State University Chancellor delivers State of the CSU address

On January 30, 2018, Timothy P. White, Chancellor of California State University, delivered “Legacy and Vision: 2018 State of the CSU” in Long Beach, California.  Here’s an excerpt:

That’s why it’s important… in line with our legacy… to keep costs as low as possible for our students… while also understanding the reality that a quality education does take resources. And that in today’s new normal here in California… the days of fully-subsidized tuition are in the past. The simple truth is that someone always pays… it’s who pays that has changed over time.

Make no mistake… we are thankful for incremental increases in our state appropriation in recent years. Yet, these increases in support from the state are going in large part to the rising costs of healthcare… or other mandated and inflationary costs that eat away at progress that we’ve made. We are, essentially, trying to walk up a down escalator.

Even with the remarkable improvements in efficiency and cost-reduction we have done and will continue to do – as described later in this meeting in the budget and finance report by Steve Relyea – we can’t progress to meet California’s needs and our students’ expectations of us. Indeed, we’re on an unsustainable pathway. This concerns and saddens me… as a Californian, as an educator, and as your Chancellor.

And while the idealist in me says that someday the state will take us back to the days of free education as a public investment, the realist in me says that’s not going to happen in our lifetime. Still… with all due respect, I will continue to say to our elected leaders… the moment to properly invest in the CSU is overdue… and as our trustees have requested year in and year out.

We are, after all, all Californians.

It shouldn’t be the CSU versus the State of California when it comes to resources… it should be us working together to serve Californians. With a strong economy, robust state coffers and new industries generating millions – if not billions – in additional taxes and fees… all developments resulting in the growing need for a university-educated populace… it is imperative to invest adequately in the today that fuels the tomorrow.

Read the full transcript on the CSU website.

UCLA writes about the California Coalition for Public Higher Education

On Jan. 8, 2018, UCLA Government and Community Relations published an article, “California Coalition for Public Higher Education Emerges As Key Partner.”  Here’s an excerpt:

As the public bemoans increasing partisan rancor in local, state and federal government, a new Political Action Committee (PAC) has quietly grown in prominence in California that is being driven by both Democrats and Republicans — showing a bipartisan way forward through an issue they can all agree on: funding higher education.

Former State Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman and former Democratic Congressmember and State Assemblymember Mel Levine are the “odd couple” as co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education (CCPHE), but to them, there is nothing weird about teaming up for an issue that is of paramount importance to keep California prominent in the nation and the world.

“There’s been an erosion of support for public higher education,” Levine said in a sit down with UCLA. “Candidly, I don’t fully understand why. Public higher education is absolutely indispensable to accomplish any number of important goals that the state of California has.” Particularly, he added, higher education is important for its role in social mobility and as the engine to educate a workforce for the economy of tomorrow.

The article concludes:

CCPHE has hosted multiple events bringing together the chancellors of all three segments to meet with influencers and PAC donors. The money raised has gone toward creating a de facto higher education caucus in the legislature. “There is now a cadre of strong supporters in the legislature who we work with and support politically,” Levine said, noting about a dozen legislators. “This is a real measure of success.”

Come the June 2018 primary, the PAC will have chosen a slate of candidates who have shown the willingness to put higher education first. “If legislators don’t make public higher education one of their top priorities, it just won’t get to the top of the list and funding won’t be there,” Levine said. Added Ackerman, “Most will say it is a priority, but they don’t put it at the top.”

The Coalition wants to step in where the universities and community colleges have to bow out — direct campaign contributions, which the public institutions are now allowed to participate in. “They couldn’t be as aggressive as someone from the outside,” Ackerman noted.

And the cause is more important than ever. “There was a time a number of years ago where it was said, in order to obtain a job to support your family, you needed a high school education,” Levine said. “Now, in order to perform many, many of the jobs in our information economy, you need at least a college education — and a high quality education — and often post secondary training. To an individual who wants to support his or her family, having a college education is absolutely essential.”

To help the cause, advocates can visit for opportunities to donate and participate in events. “We would welcome, encourage and warmly appreciate anybody reaching out to us on the website,” Levine said. “We would love to have you involved. This is an area we can make a difference where the University cannot.”

Read the complete article on the UCLA website.

Response to Governor Brown’s Initial 2018-19 Budget Proposal

Statement by Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine—Co-chairs California Coalition for Public Higher Education:

Although this Budget proposal includes very modest increases for the University of California, California State University, and the community colleges, these are well below the increase in the General Fund.  In other words, higher education’s share of the State General Fund would actually decrease.  This budget proposal is a step in the wrong direction, ignoring the need to enroll more California students on our campuses.   It is unrealistic and counterproductive to ask our great higher education system to do more with less.

January 10, 2018

NEW OP-ED: Higher Education Adds Up

On Jan. 5, 2018, Fox & Hounds published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “Higher Education Adds Up.”  Here’s an excerpt:

The numbers tell the story.  California’s high schools are turning out more college eligible students than ever before and our community colleges, the University of California and the California State University system are making headway to accommodate increased demand.  The only lagging indicator is State funding for UC and CSU.

The op-ed concludes:

Even as our public higher system is making strides in serving growing demand without diminishing educational qualify, the State remains far behind in supporting these institutions.  Per student State funding for the community colleges is up about $1,000 from historic highs, but CSU per student funding is down about 20% and UC per student funding is about half of what it was 30 years ago.  This has shifted much of the cost burden to students and their families.

To their credit, Governor Brown and the Legislature have stopped the bleeding and made modest increases in higher education funding in recent years, but there is a long way to go.

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

NEW OP-ED: Californians Value Public Higher Education

On Nov. 8, 2017, Fox & Hounds published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “Californians Value Public Higher Education.”  Here’s an excerpt:

A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 56 percent of the state’s residents think that affordability is a big problem in California’s public colleges and universities.  Three-quarters of Californians think the price of college keeps qualified and motivated students from attending and 79 percent worry that students must borrow too much money to pay for their college education.

One major source of the college affordability problem is the State’s pull back from funding higher education.  Per pupil funding is down about 40% from where it was in 1977 for the University of California and by more than 20 percent for the California State University system. Much of the burden for the shortfall in State funding has been borne by students and their families in the form of sharply increased tuition and fees.

We all pay a price for failure to adequately invest in higher education.  PPIC estimates that California’s economy will require an additional 1.1 million college graduates by 2030, when almost 40 percent of jobs will require a college degree. California’s thriving economy is built on the innovations, creativity and productivity of an educated workforce.  Without enough college graduates, the state’s economy is bound to falter.

The op-ed concludes:

The erosion of State support for higher education took place over decades, but we do not have decades to accommodate the young California men and women who want and deserve a first-rate college education.  We don’t have decades to provide the educated workforce needed to maintain our economic vitality.  Piecemeal increases won’t do the trick.  We need a solid commitment for the State to do its share for higher education once again.

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

The Need for College Graduates in California’s Future Economy

On November 1, 2017, Hans Johnson, director and senior fellow at the PPIC Higher Education Center, testified before the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California. The master plan defined a strategy to meet the state’s education needs in 1960—but today, California faces new challenges. The topic of the hearing: ensuring that the master plan meets workforce needs.

Here’s an excerpt:

Our primary finding is that California faces a shortage of highly educated workers. Specifically, economic projections to 2030 show that about two in five jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree, while demographic projections suggest only about one in three Californians will have at least a bachelor’s degree. This shortfall equates to 1.1 million workers. …

To close the gap, California and its higher education institutions will need to establish new policies and practices to enroll more students, especially in our four-year colleges and universities, and ensure greater success of students already in college. In previous testimony, PPIC has identified targets for each of the state’s public systems with respect to admission, transfer (from community colleges to four-year colleges), and improved graduation rates. Improving access and success among groups historically underrepresented in higher education, including low-income students, first-generation college students, Latinos, and African Americans is essential if we are to close the degree gap.

The good news is that new goals adopted by the California State University (CSU) system and the California Community College system are entirely consistent with PPIC’s identified targets. New initiatives, including remediation reform at the community colleges and at CSU, have the potential to substantially increase student success. CSU’s new graduation initiative aims to substantially increase graduation rates and eliminate gaps between groups of students. Strong increases in college preparation among the state’s high school graduates are also a positive sign, with the share of students completing the college preparatory requirements of UC and CSU reaching an all-time high.

Finding ways to accommodate all these students remains a central challenge, but one we must meet in order to ensure a better future for all Californians.

Read his prepared remarks on the PPIC website.

New Op-ed: Big Picture Focus Needed for Higher Ed

On Sept. 28, 2017, Fox & Hounds published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “Big Picture Focus Needed for Higher Education.”  Here’s an excerpt:

In recent years, there has been some progress in restoring a portion of the funding lost by higher education in State Budgets as the Legislature and the Governor’s office have sought to cope with a volatile economy and competing demands on the State’s resources.  Yet per student State funding for UC and CSU remains only a fraction of what it was two decades ago.

Too often, lately, legislators have focused on proposals to micro-manage the three systems, rather than addressing the imperative of bringing State support back to a level where our campuses can accommodate all qualified applicants seeking a first-rate education. Today, our high schools are producing more college ready graduates than was envisioned in the Master Plan in 1960—almost a third more for CSU and at least 10% more for UC.  It makes no sense for UC and CSU to have to shut the door on qualified California students.

Obviously, much has changed in the past 60 years.  California has experienced massive growth.  Technological change has remade our society and our economy.  Our population is highly diverse and filled with young people seeking opportunity.  California’s workforce needs have tilted decisively toward college graduates.

The Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan should look at the big picture—how our higher education system can maintain excellence, sustain affordability for students and their families and improve access for those Californians ready and able.  California’s Master Plan continues to serve us well.  Our friends in the Capitol just need to find the dollars to keep its commitment of a quality education for each new generation.

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