University of California President Janet Napolitano said Wednesday she thinks the UC Academic Senate should guarantee admission to California Community College students who complete a certain list of courses.
Napolitano spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco to commemorate the UC’s 150th anniversary. Napolitano said the UC should guarantee admission to students who complete its Transfer Pathways, which are lists of recommended premajor courses for students intending to transfer to a UC. She also said the UC is working on ways to help more Californians get UC degrees and secure more state funding to mitigate tuition hikes.
Paul Monge, UC student regent, said in an email statement he thinks guaranteed admission for California Community College students would make the UC more diverse.
“We will not only remove barriers to access but also expand the representation of students of color, first-generation college students, and other communities that remain underrepresented within the UC system,” Monge said.
Napolitano added she wants at least 70 percent of UC students to get their undergraduate degrees in four years or less. Of the students admitted to the UC in 2012, 64 percent graduated in 4 years or less.
Napolitano also said the state legislature should increase funding for the UC because education is a public good, and public investment in the UC would allow more students to attend a UC campus while maintaining the university’s academic reputation.
“If you’ve ever eaten a strawberry or reached for a glass of wine, you’ve been touched by this University, and have a stake in preserving this treasure of an institution,” Napolitano said, referring to UC innovations that have increased California’s available farmland.
Although Napolitano said she would like the UC to maintain its academic quality, some UC campuses have recently seen drops in their rankings, according to a report released last week, which showed both UCLA and UC Berkeley’s rankings going down in several subjects across the humanities and sciences.
Devon Graves, student-regent designate, said he thinks Napolitano set forth a plan that puts important issues in the spotlight and hopes students will take part in accomplishing it.
“It’s a great step to commit the University to important issues like transfer student issues and four-year degree attainment,” Graves said. “It’s my hope students are engaged and work together with regents to attain these goals and make the university better.”
Hans Johnson, director of the Public Policy Institute of California Higher Education Center, read questions collected from the audience for Napolitano to answer after her speech.
Johnson said several audience members asked questions regarding tuition hikes, and asked Napolitano about the possibility of increases. Napolitano said raising tuition should be the UC’s last option. The UC Board of Regents is meeting in May to discuss a 2.5 percent tuition hike after an attempt to vote on the issue in January was met with student activism and outrage.
“There is a relationship between the amount of money Sacramento provides the University of California and the amount of money we charge in tuition,” Napolitano said.
Johnson also said there is concern the UC is moving further away from being a public university because of the increasing amount of private funding it accepts. Napolitano said although the university has seen an increase in private funding, it will always be a public university.
“We’ve been increasing private fundraising as well as trying to do more with revenue from our generated intellectual property as well,” Napolitano said. “We remain, at heart, California’s university.”