My January newsletter

January 31, 2017

Dear friends and colleagues,

With this being my first newsletter of 2017, I want to wish you a belated Happy New Year. We have another busy and exciting year ahead of us, and we’re hard at work on multiple fronts.

Reaffirming our priorities amid leadership changes in Washington

With a new president in the White House and changes in congressional leadership, we are closely following all that is taking place in our nation’s capital. Here are some key issues we are monitoring and working on:

  • Immigration and international travel: President Trump’s recent executive order restricting immigration and entry into the United States by certain individuals from seven designated countries is very troubling. This order is contrary to the University’s core values of diversity and inclusion and our steadfast commitment to ensuring that UC is an open and welcoming place for all those who seek to study, teach and conduct research here. UC’s reputation and standards of excellence are, in part, a result of our ability to draw top faculty, scholars and students from around the world. In addition, the travel restrictions imposed by the order could complicate, or impede, the work of our faculty, students and staff. I and UC’s 10 chancellors issued a statement expressing our opposition to the order and reaffirming UC’s values, and my office also issued guidance about international travel for individuals from the countries affected by the executive order to the UC community.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Last week on my LinkedIn page I again urged the Trump administration to maintain DACA, which has helped nearly three-quarters of a million young immigrants, known as Dreamers, pursue a college education and launch meaningful careers. We have several thousand Dreamers at UC who, thanks to DACA, can live, study and work without fear of deportation. These impressive students, most of whom were brought to the U.S. as infants and very young children, have worked hard to get to the University and they enrich our university community, and our society. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and I am committed to ensuring that UC continues to be a welcoming and supportive place for students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds.
  • Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization: Congressional leaders have expressed their commitment to reauthorize this all-important legislation this year; however, there are many priorities that could easily crowd the Senate and House dockets. The HEA is crucial for UC as it authorizes federal financial aid programs, including Pell Grants and the Perkins Loans Program, as well as programs that assist students and higher education institutions in the areas of professional development and teacher recruitment. We are actively advocating with key members of Congress for the reauthorization and the University’s priorities.
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA): During the first week of the new Congress, House and Senate Republicans introduced legislation that would begin the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This process is expected to be very complex and could result in significant impacts on UC medical centers. Our Washington office is busy making sure that lawmakers understand the potential impacts of changes to the ACA on UC and our patients. We’re also working closely with other leading academic health care institutions and associations in our advocacy efforts.
  • Federal higher education and research funding: It remains unclear whether Congress and President Trump will maintain or modify current levels of federal support for public higher education and research. Without legislation to raise budget caps for the coming fiscal year, federal funding for non-defense discretionary programs — where most federal research and higher education is funded — is projected to decline to its lowest level in more than 50 years. The new president and congressional majority leaders have expressed a desire to increase defense spending, which could jeopardize federal support for UC’s priorities and those of other public research universities.

Ensuring access, quality and success for students

There is no higher priority than to maintain access to UC for California’s talented youth, and I’m very pleased that the number of applications from California high school seniors continues to reach new heights. In all, we received more than 170,000 freshmen applications for fall 2017 — a new UC record — with 111,600 of the applications coming from California students, a 6 percent increase over last year. We also saw increases in applicants from low-income families and those striving to become the first in their families to graduate from a four-year college.

As we prepare to boost enrollment by 10,000 more students by 2018, we want to ensure students continue receiving the quality education and support services they deserve. Last week, UC Regents approved a modest annual tuition increase of $282, the first such increase in seven years. They also approved a $54 increase in the student services fee, to help cover more mental health services. While we have made strides in operating more efficiently and maximizing other revenue sources, these new funds will help us make necessary academic improvements and to ensure that this generation, and future generations of UC students, receive the same quality of education as past generations. Here are some important facts to keep in mind:

  • Two-thirds of California undergraduates will have their tuition increase fully covered by financial aid.
  • California students who currently receive financial aid will not pay these increases. Indeed, most of these students will see their financial awards rise, enabling them to use the additional aid for other expenses such as student housing, food and books.
  • Revenue generated by the increases will be used exclusively to address a number of important student needs, including:
    • Lowering the student-faculty ratio by hiring more ladder-rank faculty
    • Reducing class size and expand course offerings
    • Improving student mental health counseling services
    • Providing more resources for academic counseling and tutoring
    • Ensuring much-needed maintenance of classrooms and other academic facilities
  • No one likes tuition increases, but this is a necessary and reasonable approach to addressing important student needs while maintaining UC’s affordability. I was pleased to see editorials from the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Cal in support of our plan.

A safe and respectful environment for all

Equally important to maintaining UC’s accessibility and quality is ensuring an environment in which all members of the UC community feel safe and respected. That’s why I’ve appointed Kathleen Salvaty as UC’s first systemwide Title IX officer, reporting directly to me, to oversee our activities to effectively address sexual violence and sexual harassment. These efforts include improving our policies and procedures, ensuring fair and efficient investigations, the appropriate application of sanctions, and ultimately changing the culture around sexual violence and sexual harassment through mandatory education and training, and effective prevention programs.

Fostering innovation, support for more California teachers

We continue to make steady progress on our goals to foster innovation, and to address important issues such as California’s teacher shortage.

I’m proud to announce that UC has received a $22 million investment from the State to support innovation and entrepreneurship. Under Assembly Bill 2664, each UC campus is receiving $2.2 million in one-time funding for new infrastructure and programs that facilitate student and faculty innovation and entrepreneurship. These programs, in turn, will support the creation of more startups and local economic growth. We are very grateful to Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin for her leadership on this important bill, as well as the Legislature’s and Gov. Brown’s support.

As you may know, California has a severe shortage of teachers. Yet, there is surprisingly little data on such key issues as the effectiveness of different avenues to earning a teaching credential, the factors that affect school choice for new teachers, and why teachers are leaving the profession. To help understand these issues and address the problem, UC has launched The California Teacher Education Research and Improvement Network, one of the largest research consortiums in the country, with $1.5 million in seed funding from my Presidential Catalyst Awards program. This effort brings together dozens of UC researchers who will collaborate with state agencies on answering these critical questions.

Thanks for reading. Please email me at janet@ucop.edu if you’d like to share an idea or comment. As always, feel free to pass this letter onto friends and colleagues and invite them to sign up for future newsletters if they’d like.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano