UC President Janet Napolitano, CSU Chancellor Timothy White discuss future of public higher education

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Nicholas Olivares/Staff

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UC President Janet Napolitano and CSU Chancellor Timothy White convened at the University of Southern California, or USC, Gould School of Law Thursday to discuss the future of public higher education.

Moderated by an editor for The Chronicle of Higher Education, the discussion covered public perception and mistrust of the UC and CSU systems, underrepresented student populations and state funding. The event took place during this year’s three-day Education Writers Association, or EWA, seminar for journalists.

Napolitano and White were asked about their thoughts on the state funding amount allocated to public higher education. While Napolitano said the “financial stresses on the (UC) system are real,” White said California has the “capacity to fund” students pursuing higher education.

“Overall, I’m feeling encouraged (about the budget crisis),” White said at the conference. “The Senate budget committee met yesterday, after which a conference committee will be brought together or the decision will go directly to the governor.”

White noted a “tremendous need” for all degrees — bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional citing a report from the Public Policy Institute of California. Additionally, he stated that Californians in general have underfunded higher education “for too long;” once they “dig deeper” into the CSU and UC systems, however, they see its “enormous value,” according to White.

Napolitano said although she believes that the budget deficit should be of concern to all higher education leaders, public support of higher education is increasingly viewed through a partisan lens, according to a Pew Research Center study finding. She added that state leaders need to be strong advocates for higher education, attributing them a grade of a “B+ for effort,” and a “D for results.”

“Part of this comes from how awfully difficult it is to pierce through all of the white noise that is flooding the country these days,” Napolitano said at the conference. “Cutting through all of it will continue to be the future challenge for Californians.”

Both speakers also emphasized increasing resources for the first-generation students who attend schools in both systems. Napolitano stated that 42 percent of all of UC’s undergraduates are the first to go to college in their families. She added that the UC needs to provide support for these students so that they graduate at the same rate as if they were second-, third- or fourth-generation students.

Napolitano also discussed the role of philanthropic financial contributions in the UC’s financial model.

“We have very generous donors, and if we look at the trajectory of philanthropy in the UC, we see a pretty steep upward curve over the last 10 years or so,” Napolitano said at the conference. “The point of fact is that public funding at the level it was at is unlikely to be restored, and we’re going to need to continue that upward trajectory in terms of philanthropy to support the UC.”

Contact Nicholas Olivares at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @nicholivares.

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  • Rena Khan

    The discussion about the most important factor which has been called in the most important house and we expected a better result from them..

  • John

    Why hasn’t Napolitano resigned and moved on? Her presidency is a total failure.

  • Nunya Beeswax

    SPOILER : It’s hosed.

  • California Defender

    CSU Chancellor White: Additionally, he stated that Californians in general have underfunded higher education “for too long.”

    He means DEMOCRATS. They have underfunded education in California for 60 years and counting.

    UC President Napolitano: State leaders need to be strong advocates for higher education, attributing them a grade of a “B+ for effort,” and a “D for results.”

    For once, she is honest. Democrats in California are only about sound bites, buzzwords, slogans, and photo ops. They’re all propaganda and no substance. It’s been that way for 60 years.

    When will people wake up?

    • Nicholas Olivares

      Hi California Defender!

      I wrote the above article. I always appreciate your comments, and how you pierce through the white noise of the media. It’s very encouraging, and some of your comments truly make me want to take a hard look at my reporting angles and the like.

      During the discussion, you’re right–the bastion of liberalism that is California, extremely non-conducive to needed results, was brought up.

      I think that a) it takes a lot of energy to gather large segments of the population into substantive conversation because people find that wherever the crowd is, the truth is. Conversely, some people have the capacity to think for themselves, creating people and researchers who have found a pattern in regard ti higher education — it is a partisan issue (as if we can’t there isn’t anything else we can’t dilute through a partisan lens). Once we come to a conclusive understanding of what higher education is in society — once our soundbites reflect the engine of social mobility, specific skills, and personal growth that institutions of higher education are, those incapacitated by said independent thought might find themselves aligned with the truth.

      I don’t know…

      It’s very complicated, but I just can’t help getting extremely philosophical about the manipulatively nuanced nature of the media, etc., following the insane partisan contextualization of EDUCATION.