California State University trustees are expected to get more details on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plan and discuss efforts to obtain additional funding to increase enrollment during meetings in Long Beach this week.
The governor's recent revision of the proposed 2015-16 budget called for about $158 million in new funding for Cal State, nearly $60 million less than the university had requested to expand enrollment—by about 12,000 students—hire new faculty and support programs to boost graduation rates.
Though Cal State leaders were careful to acknowledge an increase of $38 million from the governor’s initial proposal, Chancellor Timothy P. White said the system “will redouble its efforts by working with state elected leaders to further prioritize public higher education funding and achieve a final budget that provides appropriate educational opportunity, quality and success to the students of California.”
One area highlighted for improvement by the governor is Cal State’s low four-year graduation rates: 19% of freshmen graduate within that period and only about 12% of low-income students do so.
Cal State has committed to increasing the four-year freshmen rate to 24% in the next decade.
Many legislators are sympathetic to the argument that the 23-campus system needs additional funding to meet its goals, especially at a time of unprecedented demand. The system received a record 790,000 applications for fall 2015.
“The CSU is the underfunded, underappreciated Cinderella of our state higher education system,” state Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) said in response to Brown's budget revision. “Gov. Brown bemoans CSU’s self-report that only about 19% of its incoming freshmen graduate in four years. He is rightfully concerned about time to graduation. But he fails to provide funding needed to correct the problem.”
Also scheduled during the meeting is a presentation on efforts to respond to the drought and Brown’s call for a 25% reduction in water use by next February.
According to a report, nearly all of the campuses have enacted water conservation plans that include repairing plumbing systems, installing new fixtures and replacing lawns with water efficient landscaping.
About $4.75 million in system-wide funds are available for water and energy conservation projects, officials said.
The Cal State trustees are scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday.