Philomathean Club 125th Anniversary Keynote

October 5, 2018

President Janet Napolitano gave the keynote address at The Stockton Philomathean Club 125th Anniversary Luncheon on October 5, 2018. Here are her remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mayor Tubbs, for that kind introduction, and good afternoon, everyone!
I want to thank the Philomathean Club for inviting me to speak to you today. It is wonderful to be here as you celebrate your 125th year. Stockton’s Philomathean Club is the second-oldest remaining club of its kind in the Central Valley, and I applaud your longstanding commitment to your community.
Like this group, the University of California marked a milestone this year as well – our 150th birthday or sesquicentennial. And both institutions have good reason to celebrate: we support the worthwhile quest for new knowledge, and we serve as proof that education is the great equalizer in our society.
The Philomathean Club was founded 18 years before California women won the right to vote. It gave some members of this community access to knowledge and a chance to engage with the world in a way that they might not have had otherwise. The power of the Philomath is the power of knowledge. It’s the power of education to expand opportunity.
And it comes as no surprise that an organization like the Philomathean Club has flourished in Stockton for so long. This is my first trip to Stockton as President of the University of California, but your city has already made quite an impression on me.
I know this community was rocked by the Great Recession, and that the years since then haven’t been easy. But Stockton has a rich history and a vibrant future. This is a resilient city, and today, there is a tangible sense that Stockton is undergoing a renaissance. It has emerged from bankruptcy and fought its way to fiscal health. Major companies – like Amazon – are recognizing the potential embedded in this community and investing their resources here. Undeterred, Stockton is charting its upward trajectory.
At the heart of this renaissance is a continuous investment in, and renewal of, talent. Everywhere you look, Stockton’s leaders are striving to level the playing field and expand educational opportunity for the young people in their city – leaders like President Kathy Hart of San Joaquin Delta College, President Pamela Eibeck of the University of the Pacific, President Ellen Junn of CSU Stanislaus, Superintendent John Deasy of Stockton Unified, and County Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas, as well as Assistant Superintendent Kate Steinkamp, who is here today. I’d especially like to recognize Mayor Tubbs and the Stockton Scholars Program, which provides scholarships to help Stockton students achieve their college-going dreams.
The efforts undertaken by these leaders are where Stockton values intersect with University of California values: all of us recognize the power of educational opportunity to change lives – indeed, whole communities – for the better.
As California’s world-class public research university, UC has a key role to play in developing talent and educating the state’s next generation of leaders, pioneers, and innovators. That’s what brought me to Stockton today: we want this community to know that UC is behind you. We are here to help your students – and, by extension, your city – thrive.
So, this morning, I began my Stockton visit at Franklin High School. I had a chance to meet eighth-graders and parents involved in the district’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program. These students are so committed to going to college, they have already begun mapping out – and in some cases taking – the classes they need to meet college admission requirements.
I also talked with older Franklin students who are hungry for opportunity and working hard in pursuit of a college education. UC staff remained on-site today to provide juniors and seniors at Franklin with guidance about admissions requirements, financial aid, and more.
Later today, I plan to visit San Joaquin County’s Fabrication Laboratory, known as the FabLab. This program gives local students the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology such as 3-D printers, laser cutters, and robots. (And I’m proud to say that the Director of the Lab is a UC Berkeley graduate.)
All the work underway to expand educational opportunity in Stockton is paying off: applications from Stockton public schools to the University of California have been rising steadily for the past several years. It’s a trend we at UC hope to see continue, and we will do everything we can to support your work here.
That’s why earlier today, I announced at Franklin High School that the University of California is making it even easier for Stockton students and their families to track their progress toward college. We are expanding our Transcript Evaluation Service to all 11 high schools in the Stockton Unified School District, including Franklin. That’s about 10,000 students. This will enable educators to generate personalized reports that show exactly which college-track courses students have completed, how well they performed academically, and which additional classes they will need to take to become eligible for admission to UC or CSU.
Access to this information can have a dramatic effect on students. School advisers have told us they’ve seen students review their personalized transcripts and take charge of their future by studying for and taking the SAT, completing the “a-g” course requirements, applying to a four-year college or university, or enrolling in community college with the intent of transferring to a four-year campus.
And after four consecutive years of using the service, participating schools have been shown to increase students’ eligibility for UC by 21 percent, and for CSU by 32 percent. That could translate to hundreds of new college-ready Stockton students every year – and an economic and social boost for your city and county.
We’re excited about this trend, and we are making room for even more California students at our campuses. Three years ago, we made a commitment to enroll an additional 10,000 California students by the 2018-19 academic year. I’m proud to say that we met that goal ahead of schedule, and went on to exceed our goal. We estimate that over three years, UC has added 15,000 students. Today, more Californians study at the University than at any point in our history.
We continue to increase enrollment because we recognize there is still a great demand for a UC education. Enrollment growth has been challenging for our campuses from a number of perspectives. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor for the future of California, and for the futures of individual students. In many ways, this growth signifies UC’s mission of education and public service in action.
And that mission functions in concert with a larger system of public higher education in this state, a uniquely effective and efficient model. Each of California’s public higher education segments – UC, CSU, and the California Community Colleges – provides different educational opportunities for California students. Collectively, they lead to a college degree and a better future. This is a key ingredient in the secret sauce that makes California so innovative, it's economy so competitive, and its workforce so compelling for companies looking for talent.
At UC, we are collaborating with our fellow segments to increase educational opportunity for all Californians. One example is our push to increase the number of academically-prepared community college students transferring to UC campuses. California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and I signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year that provides for a guarantee of admission to the UC system for all community college transfer students who complete the required UC major preparation and achieved a minimum GPA.
This is a bold new step in our longstanding cooperation with the community colleges, in the name of better serving California students and communities. At the end of the day, this amounts to richer opportunities for students and greater prosperity for our state. A student studying automotive technology at San Joaquin Delta College today could be researching innovative auto manufacturing processes at UC Merced next year. Before you know it, that student may be back here to open a new business, manufacture an exciting invention, and mentor the next wave of Stockton students.
All of these efforts come down to expanding the opportunity pipeline, particularly to those who haven’t had access before. That expansion is important for California. This is a state of trailblazers. And some of the trailblazers we are most proud of at UC are the 42 percent of our undergraduate students who are the first in their families to attend college.
We also want to continue growing opportunity for low-income students. UC not only enrolls a higher share of low-income students than other four-year institutions but these students thrive at UC. We’re passionate about our strong financial aid programs, which enable 56 percent of our California students to attend UC with their tuition fully covered.
Expanding opportunity this way provides a remarkable return on investment for our first-generation and low-income students: more than 90 percent of UC alumni from the lowest income families go on to earn more than their parents.
What’s more, investing in students this way can have a profound impact on the course of their entire life.
Take Cristal Harris, for example, whose story has been featured in TheRecord. As a young girl growing up in East Oakland, Cristal was surrounded by gun violence. She moved to Stockton with her aunt, but the family was soon beset by financial troubles when Cristal’s aunt had surgery and could no longer work as a nurse. They lost their home in the Great Recession, and Cristal found herself living in a garage, using the light of a small television to ward off cockroaches.
When a high school teacher offered to help Cristal apply to San Joaquin Delta College, Cristal seized the opportunity. She says she arrived at Delta College hopeless, hungry, and afraid for her future. But she left there with confidence, and the academic preparation needed to attend UCLA – one of the most competitive universities in the country.
Cristal went on to graduate from UCLA with a degree in African American Studies. Last year, she earned her law degree from the University of San Francisco. That spring, Cristal served as San Joaquin Delta College’s first alumni commencement speaker. And now, the young girl from Stockton is getting ready to begin her professional career.
Cristal’s story is about the power of education to create hope. It’s about our responsibility as educators, leaders, and community members to look out for our students and help them live up to their potential. It’s about the ability of communities like Stockton to grow stronger when its young people have the chance to tap into educational opportunity and realize their dreams.
Thank you again for inviting me to speak here today, and happy birthday to the Philomathean Club! May the love of learning and the promise of Stockton’s young people continue to burn bright and power the city’s future.
And in the words of the motto of the University of California, Fiat Lux! Let there be Light!