The Center for Studies in Higher Education is a research and policy center on higher education oriented to California, the nation, and comparative international issues. It promotes discussion among university leaders, government officials, academics and all those interested in higher education policy. It assists policy making by providing a neutral forum for airing contentious issues and by keeping the higher education world informed of new initiatives and proposals. Likewise, the research conducted at the Center aims to inform current debate about higher education policy and practice. Founded in 1956 it was the first higher education center of this kind in the United States. Currently it has an especially strong interest in public policy aimed at improving higher education in California and developing a strategic perspective on the future of the University of California.
UC Berkeley’s chief academic officer explores the historical sources of Berkeley’s academic excellence. He identifies five key factors: (1) wealth from many sources; (2) supportive and skilled governors; (3) leadership from key UC presidents; (4) the pioneering ethos within the State of California; and (5) a process of continuous devolution of authority within the State and the University. He then addresses the extent to which these factors continue as causal drivers today. He concludes by identifying optimistic and pessimistic scenarios, based on contrasting assumptions about the strength of those causal drivers, and ends with a call for the State and the UC system not to inhibit efforts by UCB’s leaders to do what is needed to sustain Berkeley’s academic excellence.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negative impacts on first-generation students enrolled at large public research universities, according to the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium survey of 28,198 undergraduate students conducted May through July 2020 at nine universities. In the survey, 26% of respondents (n = 7,233) identified as first-generation students (those whose parents have not earned a bachelor’s degree). First-generation students were more likely than continuing-generation students to experience financial hardships during the pandemic, including lost wages from family members, lost wages from on- or off-campus employment, and increased living and technology expenses. Compared to continuing-generation students, first-generation students are nearly twice as likely to be concerned about paying for their education in fall 2020. Furthermore, first-generation students were also less likely to live in safe environments free from abuse (physical, emotional, drug, or alcohol) and more likely to experience food and housing insecurity. First-generation students also experienced higher rates of mental health disorders compared to their peers. The results of our study suggest that first-generation students experienced more challenges adapting to online instruction compared to continuing-generation students, including encountering obstacles related to lack of adequate study spaces and lack of technology necessary to complete online learning. Compared to continuing-generation students, first-generation students were also less likely to be able to meet during scheduled virtual class times. As institutional leaders look forward to the fall 2020 semester, we encourage them to consider the impact different instructional modalities may have in perpetuating existing disparities for first-generation students.
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This year marks the University of California’s (UC) 150th anniversary. In part to reflect on that history, and to provide a basis to peer into the future, the following report provides a history of the University of California’s revenue sources and expenditures. The purpose is to provide the University’s academic community, state policymakers, and Californians with a greater understanding of the University’s financial history, focusing in particular on the essential role of public funding.
In its first four decades, UC depended largely on income generated by federal land grants and private philanthropy, and marginally on funding from the state. The year 1911 marked a major turning point: henceforth, state funding was linked to student enrollment workload. As a result, the University grew with California’s population in enrollment, academic programs, and new campuses. This historic commitment to systematically fund UC, the state’s sole land-grant university, helped create what is now considered the world’s premier public university system.
However, beginning with cutbacks in the early 1990s UC’s state funding per student steadily declined. The pattern of state disinvestment increased markedly with the onset of the Great Recession. As chronicled in this report, the University diversified its sources of income and attempted to cut costs in response to this precipitous decline, while continuing to enroll more and more Californians. Even with the remarkable improvement in California’s economy, state funding per student remains significantly below what it was only a decade ago.
Peering into the future, this study also provides a historically informed prospectus on the budget options available to UC. Individual campuses, such as Berkeley and UCLA, may be able to generate other income sources to maintain their quality and reputation. But there is no clear funding model or pathway for the system to grow with the needs of the people of California. UC may be approaching a tipping point in which it will need to decide whether to continue to grow in enrollment without adequate funding, or limit enrollment and program growth to focus on quality and productivity.
Funding support was provided by the Center for Studies in Higher Education of the Goldman School of Public Policy, Speaker Emeritus John A. Pérez, and UC Berkeley Deans Henry E. Brady and Bob Jacobsen. The views expressed are those of the authors.
Richard C. Atkinson was named president of the University of California in August 1995, just four weeks after the UC Board of Regents voted to end affirmative action in the admission of students. The Regents’ decision reversed thirty years of history and made Richard Atkinson the first UC president in decades to face the conflict between the California Master Plan’s goal of broad educational access and UC’s high academic standards without the tool of affirmative action.
UC’s often stormy transition to the post-affirmative action age was to be his first major task as president. Entrepreneurial President analyzes this and other defining issues of Atkinson’s eight-year presidency: UC’s expansion into new forms of scientific research with industry; Atkinson’s much-publicized challenge to the nation’s dominant college-entrance examination, the SAT; and the 1999 arrest of Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee on charges of espionage, which ignited a prolonged controversy over the University’s management of the national nuclear weapons research laboratories at Los Alamos and Livermore.
The Atkinson years were a seminal period in UC history, reflected in some important underlying currents of his tenure—his role in the evolving relationship between presidents and chancellors in the ten-campus system and administrative changes he introduced that altered the architecture of UC governance.
One of the paradoxes of an administration that began with a governance crisis is that in a number of ways the Atkinson era seemed to exemplify what Clark Kerr meant in describing the twentieth century as unusually hospitable to academic enterprises. Despite the challenges, it was a time of growth, expansion, and optimism for UC. The University opened its tenth campus, UC Merced, and UC’s place as a leader among research universities was underscored by independent national studies demonstrating the high quality of academic programs throughout the system.
The political and demographic stresses that set the stage for the Atkinson administration still remain today, intensified by the plunge in state funding for California public higher education generally. Entrepreneurial President concludes with some reflections on the evolution of the UC system and its future.