Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Board of Governors, California Community Colleges

Good morning, and thank you for asking me to join you.

As you know, the relationship between the California State University and the California Community Colleges is critically important. The more opportunities we have to meet and talk, the better our relationship will be.

The two main ideas I want to discuss today are these:

  • Why our transfer relationship is so important
  • What we can do to improve that relationship

First, the importance of the transfer process:

In today's economy, California's employers are increasingly looking for workers with a baccalaureate degree. Currently, our state does not have a particularly high rate of bachelor's degree production per population. One of the keys to solving that problem is to smooth out the transfer process between community colleges and our state's four-year universities.

At the CSU, the transfer process is especially important. We rely on transfer much more than any other system in the country. We give the highest priority admission to transfer students -- in fact, our policy is to admit all eligible community college transfer students. We enroll 2 transfer students for every new first-time student.

Currently at the CSU, 70 percent of our undergraduate students are in the upper division (many of whom are transfers) and 30 percent are in the lower division. This ratio significantly exceeds the 60/40 split specified in the Master Plan.

Thus, we have a special responsibility to make our transfer process as strong as it possibly can be -- for the benefit of the students.

So -- what can we do to improve the CSU/community college relationship?

We have done a lot of work on articulation in general education, especially compared to some other states. The problem is, we rely on it so much that it needs to be perfect. Anything less than a seamless process will negatively affect students.

We cannot have each of the 107 community colleges and the 23 CSU's developing unique bilateral agreements. 107 x 23 equals 2,461 possible agreements. If we're going to be serious about articulation, we need a systemwide approach.

Tackling this problem will require steps by each of our systems, and steps we can take together.

I want to start by challenging the community colleges to establish a dedicated, transfer-only degree -- an A.A. degree like other states have. Without such a degree, there's not even a way to know which students are on the transfer track. In fact, some students come to us with more than 80 or 90 hours instead of 60.

I am challenging the CSU to establish common requirements across the system or on a regional basis for courses required for the major. As you know, transfer students who go to a different university than they had originally planned are at a big disadvantage. Those students can often lose up to a semester or more of credits.

We are now working to line up common sets of lower division requirements for each program major. Of course, community college faculty also need to be involved in this process.

Last, I have some challenges for projects that the community colleges and the CSU can undertake together.

For example, we need to look at dual enrollment programs. Students who qualify for CSU freshmen admission -- but who instead choose to attend a community college -- should be granted dual admission and treated as our first-time freshmen. For example, we should carefully study the dual-admission program set up between CSU Stanislaus and its local community colleges.

Another project we can undertake together is to make more cooperative use of facilities and programs. Our students' geographical access to 4-year institutions is low compared to the rest of the country. In our state, there are not nearly enough 4-year institutions to meet the needs of our population. Many California students go to a community college because they have to stay close to home -- but then we expect them to travel to a distant 4-year campus.

One way to bring the full 4-year experience to these students is to put our upper-division programs on site at community colleges to help students who may otherwise be unable to travel. We're planning for this in San Diego, and we're doing it at Saddleback College -- but we need to do it more.

I also would like to see our systems work together more intensively on teacher preparation. As you know, we urgently need more teachers in California. Right now we have 6 units of teacher preparation at the lower division. But we are creating more blended programs that offer early exposure to teacher preparation. As we create more of these programs, we need to explore increasing the number of units of teacher preparation at the lower level.

On a final note, I want to mention that we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the California Community Colleges and the California State University.

The agreement addresses several of the points I have discussed -- steps that both systems can take, such as:

Improving the transfer process

Improving advising for transfer students

Offering dual admission

Using facilities collaboratively

In the Memorandum of Understanding, the CSU has pledged to enroll all fully qualified California Community College students seeking admission to the CSU. The California Community Colleges have pledged to increase the number of fully qualified upper division transfer students by at least 5 percent per year.

Once again, I know that this is just one of many opportunities we will have to work together in the future.

In the next 10 years, I hope that we can challenge ourselves -- and each other -- to improve the transfer relationship between the community colleges and the CSU. I look forward to building a relationship between our systems that will grow stronger -- and help more students -- each year.

Thank you very much for including me in your discussion.

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