California Master Plan for Higher Education
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The California Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960 was developed by a survey team appointed by the UC Regents and the State Board of Education during the administration of Governor Pat Brown. Clark Kerr, then the President of UC, was a key figure in its development. The Plan set up a coherent system for postsecondary education which defined specific roles for the already-existing University of California (UC), the California State College (CSC) system of senior colleges, now California State University (CSU), and the California Community Colleges system (CCC).
The Master Plan also proposed a statutory framework for its implementation, which was signed into law by Governor Brown on April 27, 1960. The statute actually implementing the Master Plan is formally titled the Donahoe Higher Education Act1 (now located at Part 40 of Division 3 of Title 3 of the California Education Code), to honor the memory of Assemblywoman Dorothy Donahoe of Bakersfield. Donahoe had authored the resolution which later resulted in the study that created the Master Plan, and was one of its chief proponents. However, she died on April 4, 1960, and did not live to see the Plan's recommendations signed into law.
Prior to the Master Plan's development in the 1960s, California struggled to reform its society. Under a political strangle hold, due to the railroad monopoly of the 1920s, new, self-proclaimed reformers attempted to overthrow the economic and political corruption existing in the state at the time. They wanted to create new institutions with a public morality to give California a new form of purpose. 2
In the 1950s, the state's legislators and academic administrators foresaw an approaching surge in University enrollment, due to the baby boomers (people born after 1945) coming of age. They needed a plan to be able to maintain educational quality in the face of growing demand. The underlying principles that they sought were:
- that some form of higher education ought to be available to all regardless of their economic means, and that academic progress should be limited only by individual proficiency; and
- differentiation of function so that each of the three systems would strive for excellence in different areas, so as to not waste public resources on duplicate efforts.
Clark Kerr stated that his goal was to balance the competing demands of fostering excellence and guaranteeing educational access for all.
The Plan laid out that the top 12.5% (1/8th) of graduating high school seniors would be guaranteed a place at one of the University of California campuses (Berkeley, Los Angeles, etc.); the top third would be able to enter the California State University (San Francisco State, Cal State L.A., etc.); and that the community colleges (Bakersfield College, College of the Canyons, Citrus College, etc.) would accept all applications. Previously the UC's admissions standards allowed the top 15% of the state to enroll, and the CSU would accept the top half. These percentages are now enforced by sliding scales equating grade point average and scores on the SAT Reasoning Test or ACT, which are recalculated every year. No actual rank of the students in high school are used as many schools do not rank students.
Graduates of the community colleges would then be guaranteed transfer to the Cal State or UC systems in order to complete Bachelor's degrees. This practice was carried over from previous years before the Plan was enacted, with graduates from the CCC being accepted as third-year students at the Universities by virtue of their prior coursework. Finally, the Plan established that the University of California would be the sole portion of the system charged with performing academic research, and would award master's and doctoral degrees in support of that mission. The Cal State system, in addition to awarding master's degrees, would be able to award joint doctorates with the UC.
The Regents of the UC and the Trustees of the CSU approved the Plan in 1959, and the California Legislature adopted it in 1960 in a special session. Periodic reviews by the Legislature occur to the present day, which occasionally result in the enactment of modifications.
||This article possibly contains original research. (September 2011)|
The Master Plan was to increase overall efficiency in the higher education system, as well as produce greater number of graduates at a lower per-student cost by removing redundancies. This was accomplished by clearly specifying the missions of each system segment, in addition to clarifying what "territory" belonged to each institution. It established a "rational" planning process for the growth of the university systems, setting aside a past practice in which the Legislature would introduce bills establishing new four-year universities in a member's home district, a kind of political pork.
The Plan was the basis for a substantial surge in development in California higher education. Today, many credit the California universities for the place the state holds in the world economy, as well as bolstering its own economic makeup with great investment in high technology areas, such as Silicon Valley, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.
The 1987 revision specifically recognized the contributions of the independent sector and made explicit provision to include the independent sector in the planning functions of the state's higher education system. It also established a policy to set the maximum award for Cal Grants in state law.
In 2005, the demand for high school and community college administrators brought about a widely debated exception to the existing differentiation of function between the CSU and UC systems. The awarding of doctoral degrees had originally been exclusive to the UC system, with the provision that the California State Universities could offer PhD degrees as "joint" degrees in combination with the University of California or an accredited private university. Under the provisions of SB 724, signed into law September 22, 2005, the campuses of the California State University were then able to directly offer a Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D) "focused on preparing administrative leaders". It was argued that this fulfilled the original purpose of many of the CSUs, which were set up as normal schools to train teachers.
When the Master Plan was first founded in 1960, post-secondary education enrollments were equally divided amongst 2-year and 4-year institutions. However, in 2010, due to a lack of money and funding, the framers of the Master Plan limited eligibility admission to UC and CSU. The cost-cutting move diverted a large amount of students to 2-year institutions, which would still allow them to finish their lower division work and then transfer to a 4-year institution.
However, the California Higher Education system has had poor records of college completion and 4-year Baccalaureate degree attainment. Subgroups such as Latinos and African Americans, who are a large and growing demographic, show even worsening statistics of degree attainment. 3
- California Postsecondary Education Commission
- California State University
- University of California
- California Community Colleges system
- List of colleges and universities in California
- Rarick, Ethan (2005) The Life and Times of Pat Brown — California Rising (Ch. 7) Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
- California Education Code Section 66000 states that "[t]his part shall be known and may be cited as the Donahoe Higher Education Act."
- Douglass, John. "The California Idea and American Higher Education." Stanford University press, 2000, p. 81.
- Atkinson, Richard; Geiser, Saul. "Beyond the Master Plan: The Case for Restructuring Baccalaureate Education in California." Center for Studies in Higher Education, 2010 p. 28.
Atkinson, Richard; Geiser, Saul. "Beyond the Master Plan:The Case for Restructuring Baccalaureate Education in California." Center for Studies in Higher Education, 2010. Douglass, John. "The California Idea and American Higher Education." Stanford University press, 2000.
- "The History of the California Master Plan for Higher Education," Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley with links to relevant documents and legislation
- University of California Master Plan website with copies of many relevant documents
- The Future of Flagship Universities, by Robert Berdahl, former Chancellor, UC Berkeley
- Clark Kerr's legacy: 1960 Master Plan transformed higher education, UC Berkeley public relations office
- Sections 66010.4 et seq. of the California Education Code (codified mission statements, a portion of the Donahoe Act provisions of the Master Plan for Higher Education)
-  The CSU Public Affairs Photo Collection on the Online Archive of California—encompasses photographic material from the late 19th century to the early 1990s and collection finding aid provides history of CSU within Master Plan.