"Access" has long been a fundamental principle of California's Master Plan for Higher Education. The very structure of public higher education is predicated on the idea that every resident competent to benefit from instruction has some place to learn. Cornerstones reaffirms in the strongest possible terms the CSU role in meeting California's commitment to its students.
The CSU role has multiple dimensions, however, and Cornerstones seeks to affirm more than passive "availability" of a place for those eligible applicants who reach our campuses. First, Cornerstones proposes strong outreach programs and retention efforts. Second, Cornerstones proposes a continuation of the current Trustee policy in support of K-12 efforts to better prepare more K-12 students for college, and reaffirms CSU efforts to reach currently underserved communities. Third, Cornerstones seeks to strengthen the CSU relationship with the California Community Colleges, which provide the majority of our students through transfer programs.
Fourth, Cornerstones, reaffirms the commitment of the CSU to provide education beyond the baccalaureate, long a central element of our mission. This role has grown in importance, especially in light of the dramatic transformation of the California and global economy in which our graduates will work. Older industrial structures, modes of production, and long-established work relationships are rapidly eroding. Even during the current recovery the uncertainty of working Californians regarding their future is rooted in a correct perception that work security will depend less on seniority than on adaptability, and adaptability will depend on the ability to learn new skills rapidly.
At the same time the need for highly skilled Californians has never been greater. In the fastest growing sectors of the economy there are local labor shortages, with many high-growth firms forced to recruit out of state. The California State University is uniquely able to meet the needs of Californians for the applied and professional skills most in demand, and thus meet the needs of an expanding economy for talented employees. Many of the growth areas are in those fields long understood to be our special responsibility. To the degree Californians can fill the emerging jobs of a new economy, we serve the long-range health of our communities and state.
The commitment to serve the State's growing need for career transition education and lifelong learning defines a central element of the CSU Mission. We propose a significant expansion of our continuing and extended learning programs, better integration of these programs into the overall academic planning of our campuses, and the provision of enhanced financial aid and support services to meet the needs of lifelong learners.
Finally, Cornerstones affirms our faculty's commitment to link the formality of access to the substantive success of students. This success is not measured in time-to-degree alone, or in the skills and competencies we can formally assess. It is most substantively found in the habits of mind and spirit which sustain a desire for life-long learning among our graduates. With all our appropriate concern for the economic value of a collegiate education, we reaffirm the older values of a liberal education: civility, reasoned judgment, sound personal values, and an ability to participate in a democratic society. These values frame our undergraduate work. They are no less critical in post-baccalaureate study.
PRINCIPLE 5: The California State University will meet the need for undergraduate education in California through increasing outreach efforts and transfer, retention, and graduation rates, and providing students a variety of pathways that may reduce the time needed to complete degrees.
The recommendations in support of this principle are:
5a. A continuation of the current Trustee policy to strengthen the connection between the CSU and K-12, joined to a renewed commitment to strengthen significantly our collaborative relationship with the California Community Colleges.
5b. A commitment to expand programs of mentoring, course and program articulation, and adequate counseling and assessment.
5c. A commitment to continue and expand programs to reach traditionally underrepresented communities through increased efforts at outreach and retention.
5d. A commitment to review the current pathways to the degree(s), with a special focus on developing more joint and shared degree programs, reviewing the preparation of students for the teaching credential, and eliminating unnecessary obstacles to the timely completion of degrees.
5e. While acknowledging that the "price" of attendance may well go up, a continued commitment to manage costs, and to maintain low student fees by any national standard, with sufficient financial aid to ensure that access for needy students is maintained.
PRINCIPLE 6: Graduate education and continuing education are essential components of the mission of the California State University.
The recommendations in support of this principle are:
6a. The CSU will provide increased access to graduate education and continuing education, especially in those programs central to the lifelong opportunity of our students, and to the continued health of California's communities and economy. These programs include traditional fields such as teaching and nursing, and newer fields such as biotechnology and multimedia. This recommendation suggests a significant expansion of professional and other programs in areas of high need, financed at least partly through program reductions in other areas.
6b. The expansion of opportunities in these areas will require a significant integration of programs in both the state-supported and fee-supported modes; the specifics of a more integrated program need to be developed, including the proper institutional and financial relationships.
6c. The expansion of CSU post-baccalaureate programs will require a new system of financing those programs.
6d. The expansion of opportunity in these areas requires significant increases in financial aid for graduate, credential, and continuing education students. This initiative will require both institutional aid and a commitment to amend state and federal aid policies.
6e. The expansion of opportunity in these areas will require new partnerships with community and business institutions to make education available beyond the campus, and to increase the immediacy of education that is applied and professional.
6f. The CSU should explore the feasibility of a "California State
University Alumni Passport," which would offer continuing education
courses at reduced fees, and other means of expanding access to life-long
learning for CSU graduates.