UC President Janet Napolitano calls for guaranteed admission of qualified California community college students

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UC President Janet Napolitano called for all qualified California community college students to be guaranteed admission to UC campuses, a statement she first made March 7 during a keynote speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Napolitano hopes to have this initiative in place by fall 2019. UC Office of the President, or UCOP, administrators, alongside the UC Academic Senate, community college representatives and other California higher education stakeholders, will create recommendations for Napolitano to review in May, according to ASUC Senator Carmel Gutherz.

UCOP spokesperson Stephanie Beechem noted that many of the logistics of this proposal are “yet to be determined” because the details of this initiative are still being considered by the UC Academic Senate.

The California State University system implemented the Associate Degree for Transfer program, or ADT,  with a similar purpose — the ADT program provides general admission to the CSU system, rather than to a specific campus, for qualified applicants.

Beechem said in an email that this proposal would build upon the UC’s existing Transfer Pathways program, which outlines the basic coursework community college students can take to prepare for any of the 21 most popular majors.

When asked how this call to action would affect UC Berkeley specifically, campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof affirmed UC Berkeley’s “unwavering commitment to serving the people of California.”

“We look forward to working with the President on this initiative,” Mogulof said in an email.

According to Gutherz, who is also the UCOP Transfer Taskforce student representative and a transfer student herself, this decision will not have a “significant” impact on the campus’s admissions in particular. She added that Napolitano’s call is for “qualified” students, but each UC campus individually decides the criteria necessary for admission to each major and college.

“Transfers who are admitted here have earned their place; they bring a unique set of experiences, stories and skill sets to the classroom that you can’t find anywhere else,” said Gutherz. “It’s about access, and the UC is starting to understand what the role of transfer students means in that vision.”

Gutherz said the UC is looking to increase enrollment overall — a decision that she anticipates students will “oppose because of the housing crisis and limited availability of campus resources.”

The campus, however, has plans to expand housing, with ventures such as David Blackwell Hall, which is set to open in August, and at least another 665 beds by 2023, according to a March 15 CALmessage.

“The University of California has long been an engine of opportunity and mobility for California students of all backgrounds,” Beechem said in an email. “More California students are currently enrolled at UC than at any point in its history, and we are committed to doing even more to expand access.”

Contact Janani Natarajan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jrnatarajan.