Over the past year, we have published what we call our “state editions” where we take a close look at higher education in a particular state. So far, we have featured Georgia, New York, Texas, in that order, and now California.
California, by far the most populous state in the country with 36 million residents, naturally boasts the most full-time faculty, with more than 95,000 instructors, of any state, according to U.S. Department of Education data. And California’s three public higher ed systems — the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU) and California Community Colleges (CCC), together currently enroll approximately 1.4 million full-time students.
California’s three-tiered public higher education system has long been considered a source of pride for the state, creating the nation’s largest and arguably the most distinguished system of higher education. The California Master Plan for Higher Education, adopted by the state in 1960, helped integrate the missions of UC, CSU and CCC. UC schools were designated as the state’s primary academic research institutions, awarding doctoral and professional degrees, in addition to undergraduate degrees; CSU provides undergraduate and graduate instruction through the master’s degree and limited doctoral degrees, some joint with UC; and the California Community Colleges were to provide academic and vocational education to high school graduates and returning adult students.
But, despite the state’s impressive higher education system, it is not immune from the problems and challenges that many other public university systems are facing in terms of reduced budgets; how to accommodate undocumented students; and other access and equity issues.
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209, which prohibits the use of race, gender, national origin, etc. in public employment and public education. This ballot measure has had an impact on the racial make-up of some of the state’s public colleges and universities, primarily UC’s top-tier schools, Berkeley and UCLA, where the Black student enrollment took a serious dive. In recent years, both institutions have taken measures, which they hope will increase the numbers of students from historically underrepresented groups. Senior writer Ronald Roach reports on efforts underway to increase the Black student enrollment at UCLA. With an impressive roster of Black alumni, UCLA has attracted support from Black alumni and community groups to keep this tradition going, a tradition that appeared at risk post-Proposition 209. Read more in “Black Student Enrollment Rebounds at UCLA.”
In “Championing Equity and Inclusion,” Diverse contributing editor Lydia Lum conducts a Q&A with Dr. Gibor Basri, who occupies a newly created vice chancellor position at UC-Berkeley. Basri’s initial focus is on the recruitment, retention and promotion of historically excluded ethnic minorities.
Diverse staff writer Michelle J. Nealy profiles PIQE, a program that CSU has partnered with to educate low-income parents about preparing their children for college. And senior writer David Pluviose reports on the challenges community colleges face and efforts underway to assist undocumented students with access to higher education, which is often through the community college.
We hope these, and the several other stories in this edition, will give you a glimpse at higher education in the “Golden State.”
Hilary Hurd Anyaso
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