Brice Harris took over the California Community Colleges system as chancellor on Nov. 6. Timothy P. White will be installed as the California State University system chancellor at the end of this month.
Both are being welcomed to office by a broad, nonprofit coalition of education, business and civil rights organizations.
So, naturally, that welcome comes with a challenge to Harris and White.
After years of budget cuts to both educational systems, both are being urged to aggressively pursue reforms that will ensure every California child who wants a college education gets one. And that starts by coordinating and cooperating with the strengthening of the state's K-12 system, according to the Campaign for College Opportunity coalition.
"We recognize that the chancellors inherit the systems during a tumultuous time," writes Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the campaign, in letters to both educators. "In this era of budget cuts which have resulted in enrollment caps, impacted campuses, impacted programs and majors, heightened affordability challenges and unplanned tuition hikes, strong leadership is needed from you and each of us are ready to work hard alongside you."
The coalition wants White, whose system is headquartered in Long Beach, to expand and deepen efforts to implement the CSU Graduation Initiative requiring local campuses to improve graduation rates and close equity gaps for Latino, Black and Asian Pacific Islander students. They want Harris to not only improve access, but help students achieve degrees, certificates or transfers to four-year institutions through accountability testing, mandatory orientation, education plans, programs of study and student success courses for under-prepared students.
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And they want both chancellors to help complete the implementation of SB 1440, the Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act, which makes it easier for those who attain Associate Degrees to transfer to CSUs.
"It is essential that these leaders work collaboratively to ensure college is accessible and to improve student completion rates, particularly through strengthening the transfer pathway from community colleges to the CSU, in order to provide California with a competitive workforce," says Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, in a campaign statement.
Other coalition members include the California and Sacramento Chambers of Commerce, NAACP, MALDEF, The Education Trust-West, Los Angeles Urban League, Inland Empire Economic Partnership, Bay Area Council, Excelencia In Education, National Council of la Raza, San Diego Economic Development Corporation, Institute for College Access and Success, Advancement Project, Orange County Business Council, Public Advocates, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality and California Competes. Visit www.CollegeCampaign.org for more details.