California higher education leaders jointly advocate for increased funding

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Leaders of California’s higher education system met with Gov. Jerry Brown and a few leaders of the state Legislature on Tuesday in Sacramento to present their vision for fostering innovation, engagement and success for students as well as advocate for funding.

At the annual Joint Higher Education Advocacy Day, UC President Janet Napolitano, California State University Chancellor Timothy White and California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris, along with other leaders from California Community Colleges, CSU and the UC system, communicated the importance of investing in higher education to policymakers.

In a series of meetings, the leaders discussed improving outreach efforts to high-school and middle-school students, increasing the level of collaboration between the three segments of public higher education and strengthening the transfer process from community colleges to the CSU and UC systems.

They will present their plan to streamline the transfer process at the May UC Board of Regents meeting in Sacramento.

The day’s overarching goal was to secure additional funding for public higher education from the state, according to Brooke Converse, a UC spokesperson.

“In order to increase access and keep higher education affordable, we need more funding,” Converse said.

Funding for California’s public higher education has been reduced in previous years to balance the state budget, prompting leaders of higher education to focus on securing sufficient funds for the future.

“Economic forecasts indicate California needs more college-educated workers,” said Paul Feist, the vice chancellor for communications at the California Community Colleges. “We really need to pay attention to that and invest in public higher education to meet that challenge.”

In the governor’s January budget proposal, funding for the University of California in 2014-15 increased 5 percent from the previous fiscal year. In the same period, the state provided 10 percent more funding to public higher education overall, according to a report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Mike Uhlenkamp, director of public affairs for California State University, said that there were additional needs not met by the proposal and that during the budget revision period, there will be a better understanding of what revenue looks like.

The revised 2014-15 budget bill is set to come out mid-May.

Previously, Napolitano, Harris and White had also worked together to advocate for higher education at a recent legislative hearing in Sacramento. In December 2013, they attended a higher education conference for government relations professionals in San Francisco.

“Whenever you can communicate and raise awareness among policymakers about what the three systems are doing together to make the master plan work and to emphasize the returns, it’s a very worthwhile endeavor,” Feist said.

Contact Angel Grace Jennings at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.