Universities are not like mushrooms, they don't pop up after a heavy rain. They require vision, time, distance. ("County should reject leapfrog Cordova Hills"; Editorials, Dec. 10)
The history of California higher education is replete with examples of that maxim. When the Stanford family gave a huge tract of land in the 1890s it was not exactly in the center of urban development. Indeed, the university still carries the nickname of "the Farm." When the University of the Pacific moved to Stockton in the 1920s it was outside the center of the city.
That is also true for the gift of land to St. Mary's College, which moved from Oakland to Moraga, or more recently Simpson College, which moved from South San Francisco to Redding or even our own William Jessup University, which moved from San Jose to the outskirts of Rocklin.
In each case, civic leaders had a vision to build an educational benefit for the community. Those rewards can be substantial, but not without some effort and some time. Can you think of the Bay Area without Stanford and Saint Mary's, or Stockton without UOP?
In the last decade, some leaders have worked hard to attract universities to the region. There certainly is a distinct need. According to the Public Policy Institute of California the state will be short by 1 million degree holders just to meet current needs in the next decade.
At this point, even with our fine public universities and the one independent college, the region's college-going rate is below the statewide average. Yet, among all census regions in the country we have among the fastest growing number of young people who will soon need college opportunities. Our needs are substantial.
The search for the right combination of educational resources is made more complex by the current state of higher education. Both public and independent colleges and universities are under tremendous stress. Two factors have caused that stress technology and finances.
There are a raft of new educational options available. One need only look at the course in artificial intelligence developed by a Stanford professor and a Google researcher which attracted more than 160,000 students to understand how dynamic those issues have become.
Funding for our fine public universities has been reduced. And based on current projections funding is not likely to grow soon. So finding the right educational partner or partners will be tough. But it will not happen on a hope. Educators are not likely to commit to an unentitled promise.
The offer by developers of Cordova Hills is very specific. They will provide land for a nicely sized campus, a bit larger than the existing footprint of Pacific's magnificent campus in Stockton. The developers are identifying one or more colleges or universities in the country that would work as the community develops. They are searching nationwide for a partner who can match their vision.
But what does The Bee suggest? Lock down all the details before this community can begin to be built. That is not visionary. And it certainly will do nothing to attract a college or university to the region.
The Bee also suggests that the planning process has been flawed, even though all three planning reviews of the projects followed normal planning rules and guidelines, and all three resulted in unanimous support for the project.
The Bee was not always so dogmatic in its thoughts about the needs of the region. When there was discussion about creating a state college campus on a piece of land similar in size to the proposed college in Cordova Hills, the paper urged Sacramentans to understand that colleges take a long time to develop but that their benefits are also long lasting.
In January 1949, a piece of land then dedicated to peach orchards was identified to accommodate the new campus for Sacramento State. The Bee urged us to put our "shoulders to the wheel to get the college going full speed ahead."
What was good advice in 1949 is certainly equally valid now.