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.



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.

California’s online community college will break new ground in higher ed

On Aug. 2, 2018, EdSource published an article titled, “California’s online community college will break new ground in higher ed.” Here’s an excerpt:

California’s online community college will represent a new vision for higher education when it launches next year and the online education field is watching to see whether it succeeds.

The new fully online college draws from a variety of sources, including public universities’ online degree programs, corporate worker training initiatives and programs at for-profit colleges. California plans to blend those existing influences to create something without precedent: A statewide, online-only public college focused on short, career-oriented certificates. …

The online college plans to begin offering courses in the fall of 2019 and is expected to cost $240 million over its first seven years, not counting funding the college will receive for each enrolled student. It will become the 115th institution in the community college system, the largest higher education system in the country. The System’s Board of Governors will meet to discuss the online college on Monday and is expected to take up a motion launching the search for the new institution’s CEO.

Proponents say the online college has the potential to reach a population of Californians who aren’t being served by any of the existing college options either in person or online.

“It is a different way of doing things,” said Lande Ajose, executive director of California Competes, which researches and advocates for strategies to increase the number of people in the state with college credentials. “The hope is that it will both satisfy some very specific and concrete labor market demand issues for individual workers, and potentially excite them about maybe going back to their local community college.”

Read the complete article on EdSource website.

UC Board of Regents approve 2018-19 budget plan with reduced tuition

On July 19, 2018, the University of California issued a press release titled, “UC Board of Regents approve 2018-19 budget plan with reduced tuition”:

The University of California Board of Regents today (July 19) approved the university’s revised 2018-19 budget plan, which reflects increases in state funding, keeps the student service fee at its current level and reduces tuition by $60.

The tuition reduction — from its current $11,502 annually to $11,442 annually — results from the end of a temporary surcharge instituted in fall 2007 to recoup damages from two earlier class-action lawsuits, Kashmiri v. Regents and Luquetta v. Regents. By fall 2018, nearly all of those costs will be fully recovered.

The student services fee will remain at $1,128 a year.

The approved regents item may be accessed here.

The class-action lawsuits, one filed in 2003 and the other in 2007, stemmed from claims made by students at UC’s professional schools that the university raised their tuition without sufficient notice. The university disagreed, but lost both cases on appeal. In total, the litigation process cost the university nearly $100 million.

UC admissions rise, with record surge in transfers

On July 11, 2018, the University of California issued a press release titled, “UC admissions rise, with record surge in transfers”:

The University of California announced today (July 11) that it has offered nearly 137,000 students a spot on at least one of its nine undergraduate campuses this fall, including more than 28,750 transfer applicants, the highest number in the history of the university.

California residents make up the vast majority of those admitted, 71,086 as freshmen and 24,568 as transfer students. Overall, this represents 1,114 more California freshmen and 1,851 more California transfers than were admitted last year. Almost all of the transfers were from the California Community Colleges.

“After reviewing yet another record-breaking number of applications, our campuses have offered admission to an exceptionally talented group of students for the upcoming academic year,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “With the benefit of a UC education, these accomplished young people from different backgrounds, with diverse beliefs and aspirations, will make California and the world a better place. We look forward to having them at the university.”

More California undergraduates are currently enrolled at UC than at any point in its history, and after last year’s enrollment jump of some 5,000 California students, the university anticipates it will have far surpassed its goal of adding an additional 10,000 Californians by the 2018-19 academic year. Total three-year growth is estimated to be an additional 15,000 California resident undergraduates.

As part of the university’s effort to effectively manage enrollment growth, this year not every campus increased its admissions offers over last year. Based on preliminary reports of students’ intention to register, however, indications are that the number of new California freshman and transfer students who will enroll at UC in the fall, what is known as “yield,” will increase by more than 3,000 over 2017.

In keeping with the recently enacted caps on nonresident enrollment at all of the campuses, 17,863 domestic and 19,069 international freshmen were also offered admission for the fall. Nonresident students typically accept UC admissions offers at a much lower rate than do Californians.

“University admissions is part science, part art and part experience,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Robin Holmes-Sullivan. “High admissions numbers don’t automatically translate to high enrollment. The data we have available today give us great confidence in predicting that our actual fall enrollment will exceed our goal. We are gratified that so many of these top-notch, motivated students are eager to attend UC.”

The preliminary admissions numbers show increases in offers to students from historically underrepresented groups and among California freshmen and transfers who would be the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college, with first-generation students comprising 46 percent of the total.

Among freshman applicants, Asian American students remained the largest ethnic group admitted at 36 percent, followed by Latinos at 33 percent, whites at 22 percent and African Americans at 5 percent. American Indians, Pacific Islanders and applicants who did not report a race or ethnicity made up the remainder of admitted students.

Admission of California Community College transfer students grew by 8 percent over fall 2017, and is in keeping with UC’s goal of enrolling one new California resident transfer student for every two new California resident freshmen.

UC’s current transfer student enrollment is at an all-time high and will likely continue to grow. UC recently announced a plan to guarantee transfers to a UC campus for students who achieve the requisite GPA and complete one of 21 “pathways,” or prerequisite classes for the most popular UC majors. These guarantees will be in place for students beginning community college in fall 2019.

This year’s proportion of transfer students who were admitted from historically underrepresented groups jumped to 38 percent. Latino students were the largest ethnic group at just under 32 percent, followed closely by white students at 31 percent and Asian Americans at 27 percent. African Americans represented 6 percent of the admitted transfer students, while American Indians and Pacific Islanders made up less than 1 percent of the admitted transfer students.

The preliminary data released today includes applicants admitted from waitlists and through the referral pool. The data tables, which include campus-specific information for both freshmen and transfers, may be accessed here.


New op-ed: Close The Higher Education Funding Gap

On June 6, 2018, Fox & Hounds published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “Close The Higher Education Funding Gap.” Here’s an excerpt:

During the past quarter century, enrollment at the University of California and California State University has increased dramatically, while State funding for the campuses has declined precipitously.  That is a formula for disaster—not only for our higher education system and for thousands of aspiring young Californians, but also for the economic health of our state.

A new publication by the California Budget and Policy Center illustrates the problem.  Since 1981-82, UC enrollment at increased by 113%, while State funding per student has declined by 51%.  During the same time period, CSU enrollment grew by 68%, even as per student State funding declined by 26%.  The results of this disconnect are clear—too many qualified California students have been turned away, we have lost top notch faculty and much of the cost burden has been shifted to students and their families in the form of higher tuition and fees.

Fortunately, there has been a growing consensus in the Capitol that this situation has got to change.  Both the State Assembly and Senate versions of the 2018-19 State Budget call for full funding of UC and CSU funding requests to enable both institutions to accommodate more students without further increasing tuition.  Hopefully, the final Budget enacted by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown will reflect this level of support for higher education.

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