UCOP > A Brief History of the University of California > The University in a Knowledge Society >
 
 

A New President and an Economic Crisis

The Debate over Admissions

Rankings

Research and Economic Growth

New Directions for Outreach

Tidal Wave II and New Approaches to Admission

Achievement versus Aptitude

Transitions

The University Past and Present

University of California Campuses

Presidents of the University of California

Chief Campus Officers and Chancellors of the University of California


 

Chapter 36: New Directions for Outreach

President Atkinson's goals for the University went far beyond strengthening its contributions to the California economy. At the top of his list was maintaining faculty quality: a distinguished faculty is an indispensable prerequisite to a great university. Next was ensuring the diversity of the University community in the post-affirmative action era, and in particular the diversity of its student body.

When the Regents voted to end consideration of race and gender in admissions in July 1995, they made it clear that diversity remained a priority on the University's agenda. SP-1 declared that diversity was an "asset," and that "this policy will achieve a UC population that reflects this state's diversity through the preparation and empowerment of all students . . . to succeed rather than through a system of artificial preferences."

The administration and the Academic Senate faced two urgent tasks. The first was to revise the University's admissions policies and practices to reflect the new approach outlined in SP-1. Once accomplished, these changes became effective in fall 1997 for graduate students and spring 1998 for undergraduates.

The second was to create a strategy for expanding the University's outreach activities with the K-12 public schools. California's schools, once among the best in the nation, were now among the most troubled, particularly in urban areas. Despite strong public support, funding never seemed to keep up with the explosive growth of the school system and its steadily rising needs for teachers, classrooms, and textbooks.

Decades of sweeping demographic change meant that a majority of the schools' nearly six million students were now Latinos, African Americans, Asians, and other minorities. About one-fifth of K-12 students had limited proficiency in English; while most of these students were Spanish speaking, some fifty languages other than English were represented in classrooms across the state. Schools serving low-income and otherwise disadvantaged students tended to offer the fewest honors courses needed by students planning to attend UC. A teacher shortage of epic dimensions meant that thousands of students (including disproportionate numbers of disadvantaged students) were learning basic subjects, including mathematics and science, from teachers who had not majored in those disciplines. Many of these teachers lacked credentials and were teaching with emergency permits.

President Peltason had cautioned about the dangers of trying to sustain "a great university on the foundation of a crumbling school system." And now that race and gender were barred from consideration in the admissions process, helping to address the crisis in the K-12 schools was no longer just an institutional obligation but a compelling institutional necessity.

UC's partnership with the schools dated back to its earliest days; by the 1990s the campuses and the Office of the President were engaged in more than 800 cooperative programs with the public school system. In its 1997 report, an outreach task force mandated by SP-1 recommended a massive expansion of UC's partnerships with the K-12 schools and the Community Colleges, especially with those schools that historically had sent few students to the University. Noting that "it is through the schools . . . that UC can have the most powerful influence in equalizing educational opportunity," the task force estimated that real progress would require doubling, over five years, the University's annual $60 million investment in outreach to $120 million.27

Within a few years, spending on outreach had leaped beyond that five-year goal. In 2001 UC was spending more than $300 million a year on tutoring, mentoring, and counseling for K-12 students; partnerships with disadvantaged schools to improve curricula and instruction; opportunities for teachers to improve their skills; and programs to boost the number of Community College students transferring to the University.

 

27. New Directions for Outreach: Report of the UC Outreach Task Force, p. 14.

 

 

 
 


 

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Last updated 09/29/05.