UC Regents examine report for the improvement of transfer student experience

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In the first day of meetings held in Sacramento, the UC Board of Regents on Wednesday reviewed a report that outlined improvements to the transfer student pathway, as well as presentations regarding sexual assault and an upcoming Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory campus.

The UC Transfer Action Team, a task force convened in December by UC President Janet Napolitano, presented to the regents the key points that have been pinpointed to improve the experience of transfer students. The action team highlighted the need to communicate to community college students that entry to the UC system is affordable and achievable.

Differing requirements among campuses make the path hard to navigate for transfer students seeking admission into several UC campuses, officials from the team said. In response, the group recommended the creation of a clearer academic pathway that would be consistent throughout the system.

“(Transfer students) reminded us that we don’t always do the same things for transfers that we do to introduce freshmen to the UC,” said Judy Sakaki, co-chair of the transfer action team and vice president of student affairs at the UC Office of the President.

One-third of the students in the UC system are transfers — almost 15,000 students per year. Currently, half of the transfer students come from less than 20 percent of the 112 community colleges across the state. The strategy presented to the regents outlined a process through which students from a greater number of colleges could be introduced to the university.

Among the proposed immediate steps to be implemented is the introduction of a presidential tour during which Napolitano, chancellors and other UC senior administrators would visit community colleges across the state to promote the UC system as a viable option.

“To make sure that low-income families have their shot at UC and to really maximize that potential, the number of transfers must be increased,” said Gov. Jerry Brown at the meeting. “Transfer opportunity is a way to maintain a high degree of quality, increase diversity and lower our cost structure.”

Regents also discussed an action item from the Committee on Grounds and Buildings regarding the adoption of the long-range development plan for the Richmond Bay Campus, the proposed site of a new Berkeley lab campus. The property, owned by UC Berkeley, will house researchers from the Berkeley lab, the UC system and private entities.

Regents reviewed the environmental impact report and the physical design framework presented by a group that included Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Horst Simon, deputy lab director.

“This is a very, very exciting moment for us at UC Berkeley. We’ve been holding this property for over 50 years, and we’ve been thinking for much of that time about its possible use,” Dirks said. “This is a plan for an interdisciplinary, potentially even international research campus on what used to be the Richmond Bay Field Station.”

On a different note, Regent Bonnie Reiss proposed the introduction of a new focus group that would include fellow regents to address sexual assault at the UC system. Reiss asked whether enough is being done at each campus to get the message through to students that there is zero tolerance for sexual assault.

Four California public schools, including UC Berkeley, are currently under review by an ongoing state audit into the handling of sexual harassment cases on their campuses. UC Berkeley, along with 54 other colleges across the nation, is also being investigated at a federal level to find out if it is in compliance with Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

“It was one of the few times we were not pleased to see Berkeley on a list,” Reiss said at the meeting.

Contact Robin Simmonds at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @@rsimmonds_dc.