California’s higher education system is not keeping up with the economy’s changing needs, PPIC research has shown. Falling behind in creating a skilled workforce could curtail economic growth, limit economic mobility, and increase inequality in the state. The leaders of the California Community Colleges (CCC), California State University (CSU), and University of California (UC) are essential in the effort to increase the number of educated workers, because the vast majority of the state’s college students attend public colleges and universities.
Hans Johnson, director of the PPIC Higher Education Center, summarized this research, and the three leaders of the higher education system sat down last week with Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, to talk about their goals before a large Sacramento audience.
The first question: What are your top goals in the next decade?
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, CCC chancellor, said it is a critical time for the 113-campus system. “We connect with so many Californians at a time when the economy is changing before our eyes, and the default to get into the workforce is no longer a high school diploma. Some sort of post-secondary credential is essential. That is our focus.”
He said he is working with the other higher education branches and the K–12 system to integrate them into “one public system of education, not four separate systems.”
Timothy White, CSU chancellor, had a similar focus on results. “Our number -one priority in the years ahead is to improve the success rates of our students,” he said, adding that just 20 percent of CSU students earn their degrees in four years. He said he wants to make sure CSU students have access to courses when they need to take them, as well as sufficient faculty and academic support.
Janet Napolitano, UC president, said, “My vision is that the University of California remain the top public university in the world.” Citing the recent growth in enrollment of in-state students, she said that sustaining academic excellence, increasing diversity, and producing students who will be the next generation of California’s leaders are all key parts of this vision.
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