California State University will aim to produce an additional 100,000 degrees earned over the next decade, Chancellor Timothy P. White announced Tuesday, calling on Gov. Jerry Brown and the state to support the “ambitious next phase” of CSU’s student completion efforts.
“At a very fundamental level, the California State University is inseparable from the state of California,” White said during his second State of the CSU address in Long Beach. “The state must be a reliable and strong partner if the CSU is to succeed as a steward of human, physical and technological capital, thereby empowering California’s economic and social success.”
The goal is part of a newly announced initiative targeting an estimated 1 million degree gap in the state economy by 2025. While more than 900,000 CSU students earned degrees in the past decade, the six-year graduation rate for freshmen hovers around 51 percent.
CSU plans to raise that graduation rate by 9 percentage points, to 60 percent systemwide, over the next 10 years, with additional efforts to increase four-year and transfer graduation rates, and reduce the historical achievement gap for minority and low-income students.
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The university’s strategies include reducing the number of units for degrees, expanding research, service learning and internship programs, incorporating technology into more courses, and promoting the associate degree for transfer that puts community college students on a path to finish at CSU in two years.
With 23 campuses and almost 450,000 students, CSU is the largest university in the country. It now has 3 million living alumni, White noted, representing approximately 1 in 10 California workers and 1 in 20 college graduates in the United States.
“But it is time for a reality check,” he said. “The people of CSU are doing more for less.”
Even as the university endured hundreds of millions of dollars in state budget cuts during the economic recession, it has expanded completion by 20,000 degrees since 2005, according to White.
Tuition more than doubled during the same time period, to $5,472 a year. White said he agreed with Brown that students should not be the “default financiers of higher education.”
“But the historical financiers of higher education – the people of California – are ill-served if their public universities crumble due to lack of sufficient investment,” he added.
CSU is set to receive $120 million more in state funding next year, the third of a four-year structured increase centered on a tuition freeze. In November, the university asked for an additional $97 million, to cover salary increases, enrollment growth, student completion initiatives and infrastructure. Brown added a one-time $25 million appropriation for the completion efforts in his January budget proposal.
“We are now setting a bold goal for our university, and we need the state to do its part to resource it,” White said.