The California State University enrolls over 450,000 students, graduating nearly 88,000 last year to address the workforce needs in California, especially in critical industries such as agriculture, engineering, business, technology, media, and computer science. There is a pressing demand for student access to the CSU, particularly among traditionally underrepresented communities, as indicated by fall 2007 applications for Latino students, which increased by 15 percent, and for African-American students by 12 percent. Access to the CSU campuses has also grown because the CSU offers a quality education at the most affordable four-year public university system in the country.
Supported by the Higher Education Compact, the state provides funding for nearly 10,000 additional students who enroll at the CSU each year. However, the CSU has experienced a demand for student access of 18,000 additional students in the 2006/07 academic year and anticipates over 23,000 additional students in the 2007/08 academic year. Unfunded growth of 13,000 students, at a time when the CSU is serving an unprecedented number of underrepresented students, represents a cost of over $77 million that is being absorbed by the CSU. The state needs to recognize this increasing demand and provide the funding necessary to offer an affordable educational opportunity to all qualified students who wish to earn a degree from the California State University.
The CSU is involved in numerous efforts to increase educational opportunities for underrepresented students as exhibited in a variety of outreach and academic preparation programs. In collaboration with the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education, the California State University developed the Early Assessment Program (EAP) to provide students, their families, and high schools the opportunity to assess 11th grade student readiness for college-level English and mathematics, i.e., skills that students who choose either to enter college or the workforce directly out of high school will need to be successful. The CSU has also initiated “Super Sundays” to work with churches in the Los Angeles and Oakland areas that serve large African-American congregations in an effort to increase the pool of African-American students, particularly male, who are eligible to attend a four-year university. The CSU created the “How to Get to College” poster, which describes the steps for middle and high school students (grades 6 –12) and their families to take to prepare and apply for college and includes information regarding financial aid. The poster, which has served as a model for similar publications at universities across the country, won a silver medal in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) international Circle of Excellence Awards competition.
The 2008/09 CSU budget represents a continuation of state education priorities under the Higher Education Compact to ensure student access, address compensation issues, increase student financial aid, and fund CSU mandatory costs. Funding provided by the governor and legislature for K-12 math and science teacher preparation programs will allow the CSU to double the production of teachers by the 2010/11 academic year. The CSU has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the California Community Colleges to establish integrated two-year to four-year programs that provide a continuous and seamless sequence of preparation for math and science teaching. CSU campuses are working with their regional feeder community colleges to establish fully aligned math and science programs.
The CSU will continue efforts to address the workforce needs of California in the areas of nursing, engineering, and the sciences. The CSU will produce an additional 750 new nurses in the next three years, and is committed to addressing the shortage of mid-level managers with engineering experience by piloting a number of Professional Science Master’s (PSM) programs. The CSU plans to have 14 PSM programs on 12 campuses within the next three years. Programs will be in bioinformatics, biostatistics, biotechnology, clinical project management, computational science, ecological economics, environmental science, and forensic science. These critical workforce needs are being addressed with private foundation funding.
The Higher Education Compact affords CSU campuses with the fiscal stability to plan student enrollment, hire qualified faculty and staff, grow critical education programs, and mitigate overwhelming increases in student fees. The CSU recognizes that the Compact funding does not address the cost of the current collective bargaining agreements or demand for student enrollment. The Compact makes only moderate progress to address the $522 million reduction in recent CSU budgets and does not fully address the current demand for student services, nursing programs, K-12 teachers, or compensation needs. With the understanding that the Compact represents the floor and not the ceiling for state higher education support, this budget proposes “above Compact” requests to support essential CSU funding priorities in 2008/09.
The CSU recognizes the state’s overall fiscal condition and competing challenges that affect the decision to support additional funding above the Higher Education Compact. However, there are fundamental areas that are represented in the 2008/09 CSU budget that are not only vital for students completing their degrees, but also play a major role in California’s economy and, ultimately, add tax revenue to the state’s General Fund. The CSU funding priorities for 2008/09 were formed in consultation with the members of the CSU Board of Trustees, campus presidents, representatives of the CSU Academic Senate, members of the System Budget Advisory Committee (which includes student, faculty, staff, alumni, union, and administrative representatives), and the chief administrative and academic officers of the CSU, with an eye toward the long-range goals and needs of the university. Full funding under the Compact and recognition of the CSU’s additional funding request represent a modest yet critical investment that will produce an overwhelming rate of return from our students and a major benefit to the workforce and fiscal stability of the State of California.