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Community College-to-UC Plan Shelved

Education: A program designed to add minority enrollment is not enacted due to lack of funding.

September 20, 2001|JEFF GOTTLIEB | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An effort to boost minority enrollment at University of California campuses with students who agree to spend their first two years at community colleges has been delayed for lack of funding, UC officials said this week.

UC President Richard Atkinson notified the Board of Regents on Tuesday that the state Legislature did not approve funding for the dual admissions program that was to begin in 2003 at an estimated cost of $2.5 million a year.

Most of the money was for the salaries of UC counselors who would shepherd eligible students to ensure they take classes required for transfer to a UC campus. Because minorities make up a considerable portion of community college student bodies, UC was targeting the two-year schools to increase its minority numbers.

UC Irvine Chancellor Ralph Cicerone said his campus still will try to promote such transfers.

"We'll look at it to see if we can do something ourselves," he said. "But without extra people, you probably can't make it work."

Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar), the proposal's main supporter in the Legislature, said the dual admissions program was a victim of the slowing economy, which forced the state to increase its budget reserve and to guarantee full funding for fire, public safety and similar programs.

Cardenas said it was eliminated from the budget at the last minute. He and UC officials said the money could be allocated during next year's budget cycle.

Under the dual admissions program approved by regents July 19, high school seniors who scored in the top 4% to 12.5% of their class would have been eligible. Despite their good grades, many of them would not have been accepted to a UC campus because they hadn't taken the required classes.

After they graduated from high school, those students would receive a letter guaranteeing acceptance at a UC campus in two years as long as they pass their community college classes and take courses needed to transfer.

The plan was to have one counselor for every three community college campuses, said Michael Reese, the UC's assistant vice president for strategic communications.

"The faculty felt the success or failure of the program would be to have sufficient support systems with counselors," Reese said.

Several UC campuses, including UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, have small pilot dual admissions programs. Sue Wilbur, UC Irvine's dean of admissions, said the plan was to bring the community college students closer to the university.

Santa Ana College, where more than 90% of the students not in the police or fire academies are minorities, has a partnership with UC Irvine.

"It gave our students additional hope," said Irene Malmgren, dean of the counseling division at Santa Ana. "It validated that the UC system saw them as capable students."

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