The 1960 Master Plan

The 1960 Master Plan represented the culmination of a long process of developing and planning the future of California higher education. California's tripartite system has its origins in the turn of the century reform movement of Progressives and the historical development of each segment.

A Master Plan for Higher Education in California, 1960-1975 [HTML or PDF]

The 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education is a document developed and negotiated by a Survey Team headed by Arthur Coons (then president of Occidental College). Like previous state sanctioned studies on higher education in the post-World War II era, it was organized under the auspices of the Liaison Committee - a voluntary planning and policy forum of the UC Regents and the State Board of Education first formed in 1946. In part, the Master Plan is the result of the failure of previous statewide planning studies sanctioned by the Liaison Committee to halt the cavalcade of bills for new campuses and reorganizing California's tripartite higher education system. It was also the direct result of projected huge increases in enrollment demand, rising costs for California taxpayers, and continuing battles between the University of California and the state colleges over program and enrollment growth.

In 1959, state assemblywomen Dorothy Donahoe (D- Bakersfield) successfully offered a concurrent resolution to halt all further proposed campuses and reorganization schemes for California higher education. ACR 88 asked the UC Regents and the State Board of Education to "to prepare a Master Plan for the development, expansion, and integration of the facilities, curriculum, and standards of higher education, in junior colleges, state colleges, the University of California, and other institutions of higher education of the State, to meet the needs of the State during the next 10 years and thereafter . . ." The resulting plan was submitted as required to the legislature during a special 1960 session. It was the result of an arduous process of negotiation that largely pitted the interests of the University of California and the state colleges in areas such as graduate training, research, and enrollment growth.

The 1960 California Master Plan became not a single document, but a set of three different documents:

  • There not only was the planning document submitted to the governor and the legislature on February 1st, 1960 with dozens of general agreements that never were officially sanctioned by law: including, most prominently, admissions guidelines and California's historic commitment to a non-tuition policy for California residents.
  • There was also a statutory bill passed under Donahoe's name and signed by Governor Pat Brown on April 14, 1960;
  • And a constitutional amendment passed by voters in November 1960 that allowed for the establishment of a new Board of Trustees for what became the California State University with terms of eight years for appointed members.

See "The Heart of the Master Plan" for a guide to the major recommendations of the 1960 Master Plan study and their fate as general agreements or as statutory law.

-- JAD

The Donahoe Education Act, 1960 [HTML or PDF]

As noted, the Donahoe Act sanctioned in law a number of the major recommendations of the Master Plan Survey Team -- although some were significantly modified. What is notable is not only what the legislature adopted as a result of the 1960 Master Plan, but also what they did not include.

The Master Plan Survey Team and their report approved by the UC Regents and the State Board of Education recommended that the missions and governance of California's three public higher education systems be placed into the constitution as an amendment. This included providing the proposed new board for the state college to have a similar level of autonomy as a public trust (and hence, not subject to statutory law beyond normal fiduciary responsibilities) as that of the University of California's Board of Regents (a status obtained in 1879). Leaders in the legislator refused to place these new provisions in the constitution or to give the state colleges this level of autonomy. The legislature also wanted to modify the proposed composition of a new coordinating agency for higher education to include more lay members. And a large number of recommendations related to admissions standards and similar operating aspects of these public institutions were not included in the one major piece of legslation, the Donahoe Act, that signed into law in November 1960.

State Senator George Miller (D-Contra Costa) was the main author of the bill, but he renamed it in honor of Assemblywomen Donahoe, a co-author and chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, following her untimely death due to a long battle with health problems.

The bill outlined the general mission and governance structure for each of the three public higher education segments (what is today UC, the CSU system, and the California Community Colleges), and the governance and purpose of a new Coordinating Council for Higher Education.

-- JAD