California’s public universities must work harder to recruit minority students and professors and should require all undergraduates to take a course in ethnic studies, said a major legislative report released Thursday.
“Dismal” is the way the report described the representation of minorities on public university faculties in California. At UC, for example, only 9.9% of all tenured faculty members in 1986 were blacks, Latinos, Asians or American Indians, according to the study by the Joint Committee for Review of the Master Plan for Higher Education.
In 1986, fewer than 900 black high school graduates in the entire state were academically eligible for UC and only 4,468 blacks and Latinos were among the 27,761 Californians who transferred from community colleges to a Cal State system campus.
“It is not sufficient for us to provide the formality of opportunity . . . when the realities of unequal preparation and treatment make it extremely difficult for men and women of color to enter and succeed,” said the study, which capped a three-year review of the state’s college and university systems.
California “is threatened with a permanent underclass, mostly brown and black,” unless higher education better serves minorities, the report warned.
The study was immediately attacked by a Republican legislator who contended that it may pave the way for discrimination against Anglo applicants who may be denied a place in the public universities even though they are better qualified.
The study also called for ways to guarantee the transfer of students from community colleges to the upper divisions of UC or Cal State schools. And, it urged cooperation among the three segments of public higher education in building new campuses to meet an expected 42% increase in college-age Californians between 1990 and the year 2000.
The report even proposed that the UC, Cal State and community college systems build a joint facility called “a university park” that would tie together their programs. The joint committee’s chairman, Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) said the Presidio in San Francisco, the enormous military base that is facing closure, might be a good site. The idea, however, appears unlikely to be carried out because UC officials oppose the concept.
The 138-page report, titled “California Faces California’s Future: Education for Citizenship in a Multicultural Democracy,” is the latest step in a movement to reform California’s three-tiered system of higher education. The schools are governed by a 1960 master plan that had its second review two years ago. That review led to legislation aimed at strengthening the community college system.
Vasconcellos, releasing the report at a news conference in the Capitol, said he considers the study a “blueprint” that will guide the state’s public universities into the next century.
The assemblyman said the next step will be to translate the report into specific bills. He and other lawmakers said they think that at least some recommendations in the report will become law, although a long process of review and legislative action must be taken before any proposals can be implemented. Sixteen of the 18 Republican and Democratic legislators who formed the joint committee endorsed the report.
State Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he was encouraged by the bipartisan show of support. “It is increasingly difficult to reach consensus in this legislative body, between both houses, between both parties, on important public policy issues. This is an important breath of fresh air where there is consensus,” Hart told reporters.
Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) predicted that “the essence of this report will become law.”
But one of those critical of the report, Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), said he believes that the report will lead to racial quotas.
“Admission to the University of California and the California State University system should be based on a student’s qualifications and merit and not on their skin color. This report seeks to institutionalize racial admissions policies, and I find that repugnant,” McClintock said in a telephone interview.
The report stressed that special consideration in admissions to highly competitive campuses and majors should be given to students from minority groups and low income families--a practice often already followed.
The issue of requiring ethnic studies is also sure to be controversial. Several campuses already have such mandatory courses but a similar proposal at UC Berkeley has divided the faculty. Another recommendation, proof of competency in a foreign language, also is likely to be resisted by students in such majors as engineering, which is already loaded with academic requirements.
At UC Irvine, it appears likely that multicultural studies will be added to undergraduate general education requirements for the 1990-91 academic year. A proposal for such a class, made in response to criticism that the university does too little to promote understanding between ethnic groups, was approved unanimously by a faculty committee last month, and will come before the Academic Senate for a final vote on April 13.
If the proposal is approved by the senate, which sets curriculum for UCI, students will be required to take a course on the culture, political involvement and history of U.S. minority groups. Black and Latino students at UCI, who make up 10.5% of undergraduate enrollment, have also pressed for greater minority recruiting efforts. Systemwide, blacks and Latinos make up 13.8% of the University of California enrollment.
The state higher education committee strongly urged the universities to work with elementary and high schools to prepare minority students for higher education.
More Attention, Funds
Community colleges, as the entry point for many Latino and black students, should get more attention and funds, according to the committee. The community colleges receive only about 25% of the per-student money for student services that UC campuses receive, the study said.
The report proposed that by 1992 all 106 community colleges have agreements with at least three UC campuses and at least five Cal State campuses guaranteeing students the right of junior year transfer if they successfully complete a prescribed course of study. Also, the report said that every community college should have a counseling center to help transfer students.
According to master plan rules, students are eligible for UC if they rank academically in the top 12.5% of all state high school graduates, and can attend Cal State if they are in the top 33.3%. The report released Thursday called for guaranteeing admission to eligible students to one of the systems, although not necessarily to the campus and major of first choice.
Gordon reported from Los Angeles and Shuit from Sacramento. Staff writer Jean Davidson in Orange County also contributed to this story.
THE MASTER PLAN REPORT
The 138-page report released Thursday by a joint legislative committee completes the second review of the state’s master plan for higher education, which was adopted in 1960. The report focused on the role of higher education in what the committee called an emerging “multicultural” society. The advisory report can form the basis of legislative changes in the state’s higher education system. Among the recommendations:
Better recruitment and preparation of minority students and more hiring of minority professors.
Cooperation among UC, Cal State and the community colleges in building new campuses.
Study of a “university park” campus shared by all three systems.
Requiring all undergraduates to take a course in ethnic studies and to become competent in a second language.
Making sure that all community colleges have guaranteed transfer arrangements with at least three UC campuses and five Cal State schools.
A boost in the size of the Cal Grants scholarships that can be used at independent colleges.