Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity & Democracy Volume 13, Number 1  

Diversity & Democracy
Volume 13,
Number 3

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About This Issue
Featured Topic: Shared Futures
Investing in Education and Equity: Our Nation’s Best Future
Connecting the Dots between Learning and Resources
How Higher Education Can Support Working Students
The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color
Working with Working-Class Students
Layered Mentorship as Meaningful Leadership
Reducing Internship Inequity
Campus Practice
Resource-Friendly Reform in General Education
From Service to Science in the Energy–Climate Era
Research Report
How Grade Point Average Correlates to Various Personal Characteristics
And More...
In Print

Investing in Student Success: The Equity and Excellence Imperative

The economic troubles of California's state higher education system have sent tremors across the country. California's Master Plan was once considered a blueprint for educational equity. Now, the California system is a test case for the economic challenges facing colleges and universities nationwide. According to 2009 projections, the California State University system alone will need to cut enrollment by 40,000 in 2010-11 (Reed 2009), even as tuition grows by over 30 percent (Hebel 2010). The implications for access and success are alarming, to say the least--and the conditions that caused them are far from limited to California.

Faculty and administrators across the country are acutely aware of how budget reductions have affected their lives: furloughs, obliterated travel funds, reduced course offerings, cuts in departmental spending and even in departments themselves (Chronicle of Higher Education 2009). From an employee's perspective, these changes are upsetting and consequential. But for America's college students--who are themselves facing reduced budgets and increased tuition, trends that narrow their paths to economic stability and to democratic participation--they are even more problematic. With the looming possibility that higher education will be less able to serve its students, pleas to "do more with less" take on particular urgency.

The authors in this issue of Diversity & Democracy offer concrete suggestions for how higher education can improve access and success and strengthen learning outcomes despite mounting economic barriers. With a focus on underserved students, the authors challenge colleges and universities to rally their resources and strengthen their resolve to give students the support they need in these challenging times. Some offer suggestions specifically aimed at stretching thin budgets; others share program, policy, or pedagogical models that apply more generally to the challenge of bolstering student success. In all cases, they press higher education to solidify its commitment to equity despite economic constraints.

As Michelle Asha Cooper argues, resources directed toward that commitment should be seen not as expenditures, but as investments: in education, in equity, in "our nation's best future." In this moment of economic constraint, higher education must combine its various resources to collectively ensure a secure future for itself, its students, and the nation at large. Like the ground in California, the economy is bound to be occasionally unstable. But with foresight and commitment, we can build a foundation strong enough to sustain access and success, even in shaky economic times.

--Kathryn Peltier Campbell, editor


Chronicle of Higher Education. 2009. Michigan State U. may cut at least 9 academic departments. Chronicle of Higher Education, October 31. chronicle.com/blog

Hebel, S. 2010. State cuts are pushing public colleges into peril. Chronicle of Higher Education, March 14. chronicle.com/article/In-Many-States-Public-High/64620/.

Reed, C. B. 2009. California values prisoners over students. San Francisco Chronicle, July 27. articles.sfgate.com/2009-07-27/opinion/17218827_1_higher-education-state-general-fund-support-budget-cuts.

Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Diversity & Democracy should be directed to Kathryn Peltier Campbell at campbell@aacu.org.
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