Expanding opportunity at UC Davis

Amanjot Kaur, a student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is one of the inaugural Central Valley Scholars at UC Davis.

Amanjot Kaur, a student in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is one of the inaugural Central Valley Scholars at UC Davis.

As a public university, UC Davis holds a special responsibility to make our world class education accessible and affordable to all students. As Chancellor, I consider this my highest priority, which is why I am so pleased that today the Obama Administration announced a plan of action for increasing college access and success for low-income and disadvantaged students. Because of business here on campus, I was unable to attend the special event at the White House announcing this new effort, but I join with colleges and universities across the country in reaffirming our commitment to making the dream of higher education attainable.

To that end, I am happy to announce the expansion of two key programs at UC Davis:

The Special Transitional Enrichment Program (STEP) provides first-generation, low-income freshman students with transitional classes and skills development activities to enhance their capacity in meeting academic goals. This year, 50 additional students will participate and ultimately there will be capacity for every eligible student to participate.

We are also growing our Transfer Opportunity Program (TOP) to 35 community colleges. This program helps community college students seamlessly transition into UC Davis academic programs, providing access and ensuring success of first-generation and low-income students.

These two efforts are just part of a much larger effort to fulfill our mission as a public university. Through such programs as the Aggie Grant Plan, the Central Valley Scholars, the Guardian Scholars and the Linda Frances Alexander Scholars, we continue to make opportunity one of our highest ideals. What is more, these programs contribute to the massive endeavor across the entire University of California system that has set the standard nationwide for providing educational opportunity to low-income students.

Indeed, I am very proud of all that UC Davis does to ensure that all students, regardless of economic status, receive a world-class education. During the last academic year, UC Davis provided $264 million in non-loan aid to undergraduate students. In all, 69 percent of undergraduate students received some form of non-loan aid. In fact, 53 percent received enough aid to have all of their system-wide tuition and fees covered. In addition, as part of the Campaign for UC Davis, we raised $135 million for student support, which equates to nearly 1,500 student scholarships and fellowships.

I look forward to helping make the White House’s new effort a success and to ensuring that the doors to UC Davis remain wide open to students in California and all over the world.

5 responses to “Expanding opportunity at UC Davis

  1. I just discussed your recent blog on Expanding Opportunity at Davis and the white house report that you linked to with my students in UWP 102A, Writing for Social Justice.

    Overall, they were happy to see in your statement that making education accessible and affordable is your “highest priority” and to read in the white house report specific evidence of the innovative approaches here at UCD to improving college access and success; however, they felt that the report and your blog both over-emphasize financial resources.

    They noted many programs here at UCD designed to make college more accessible to local students, both by skills building and by putting a human face on UCD through outreach or opportunities for students to visit the campus. They also noted many programs designed to assist low income and first generation students to succeed once accepted at UCD.

    They also expressed concern that the efforts to attract more international students and provide the supports that they need to succeed here conflict with the efforts to make UCD more accessible to and enhance the achievement of students already here in California.

  2. After reading your “Expanding Opportunity at UC Davis” and the “Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students” from the White House, I think your statement has hopelessly misguided the public to think this institution is doing all it can to help students from a low-income background, and intentionally misrepresented yourself as an ally for education access.

    Amongst other rhetoric you state, “I consider this my highest priority”. It sure does not seem like education access is your highest priority when UC Davis has almost 32,000 undergraduate students, yet the STEP program can only provide for 50 more of them. This minuscule success paints a bleak picture for your other priorities if education access is amongst the highest.

    You overemphasize the monetary allocations and underemphasize the human resources responsible for change on a ground level. UC Davis has resources such as the Student Recruitment and Retention Center, but could use so much more.
    You give no concrete examples on how you have been involved in any of these positive changes, or how you will continue to make a positive impact.

    The hollow words you share masked with a smile does not make me proud to be an aggie.

  3. Dear Chancellor Katehi,

    I want to applaud your efforts to increase enrollment opportunities at UC Davis for low-income students. To that end, I would like to briefly share with you some of my personal experiences at UC Davis as a transfer student who arrived at this transformative institution in Fall 2012.

    Like many transfer students, I found my way to UC Davis through the community college system. I took this route not only because it was more affordable, but also because the mere idea of studying at a four-year university was but a passing thought for me throughout most of high school, which was a public high school in the city of Los Angeles.

    As a result, when Senior year came around and students from all over the nation submitted their applications to enroll as freshmen at our nation’s universities, I didn’t even apply! It was just that unreal for me, as it was for many of my friends and fellow community members.

    Still, with the help of a mentor and a sense of purpose, I enrolled at Pasadena City College on the basis that I would transfer to a university within two years. In actuality, the process took four years. Now, there’s plenty to say about why and how it took longer than I anticipated, but what I’m more interested in sharing with you is about the process of transitioning into UC Davis once I enrolled here as a junior.

    Across the board, for myself and a number of fellow transfer students, the transition has been challenging. As students ‘in the middle’, if you will, that is, as students who are halfway through their college career but also right at the beginning of their time at UC Davis, there is an entire network of obstacles for us to take on before finding ‘our place’ at this institution.

    With this network in mind, I want to bring to your attention just a few particular areas that I believe would significantly help this community of students:

    More resources for transfer students, i.e., computer labs, counselors, and events by which ‘transfers’ could interact with other students regardless of class standing or background.

    While there is currently a ‘transfer center’, that is, the TRV, the center is small and resources are limited, e.g., there are only a handful of computers available.

    Community meetings on the process of transition, lead by and/or including non-transfer students at UC Davis, in order to initiate a process of dialogue for students who would like to immerse themselves within the UCD Aggie culture, and/or receive help in doing so from other students.

    Acknowledgement. Part of what makes it difficult for transfer students is the way that we’re almost invisible on the campus in a certain sense of the word; if there were more communication and community support from more established members of the UCD campus, the difference it would make for a transfer student could change worlds! I know it’d change mine!

    With these things in mind, I hope to simply add to the discussion over how UCD could strengthen its efforts to establish a broader community of bright students interested in creating a better society. In my experience, the more gaps that we bridge between working, middle, and any other class, the stronger we all are as a society in this world.

    Thank you for your time,

    Jimmy Recinos

  4. Dear Chancellor Katehi,

    First and foremost, I must share with you the pride I carry as an Aggie. I’m a non-traditional transfer student who never thought I’d find myself at one of the most prestigious public universities in the United States. I relocated to Northern California on the sheer hope of being accepted into UCD, and now I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime (without having to pay out of pocket for tuition or fees during regular quarters) to learn, grow, and pursue my life’s passions. None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the enormous amount of financial scholarship and aid that has been afforded to me. I am nothing but grateful, and am humbled that such an institution would be eager to invest in me and my future.

    And while the transfer process has been anything but “seamless” as you suggested, I certainly have found my place within such a massive research University. That is the key, I’ve realized. That “I” have found “my”place. It’s easy for students to slip through the cracks, even once they make it through the application process and are finally admitted. But the resources that UCD provides to it’s students are unparalleled. We are encouraged to advocate for ourselves. We are encouraged to take ownership of our degree path; we are motivated to think outside of school sponsored initiatives and develop our own networks and clubs for integration. We have the ultimate power to engage on whatever level we desire. I feel that in this regard, UCD is doing exceptionally well.

    Which is why I look forward to an expansion of the STEP and TOP programs. I feel that while financial resources can be limited, student social capital is not. I would love to see programs like College Week Live and Student Recruitment Outreach events reach a broader audience, especially in lower-income rural areas where many aspiring students feel that UCD is out of their reach.

    Thank you for all of your efforts and dedication to our UCD community, I look forward to the years ahead!

    Katherine Stone

  5. Dear Chancellor Katehi:

    After reading your January 16th blog post entitled Expanding opportunity at UC Davis, I have some concerns for the methods you state are being put forth by you and this University to aid in the attainability of higher education for low-income students. While expanding the Special Transition Enrichment Program (STEP) and the Transfer Opportunity Program (TOP) are both worthy enhancements to our academic community, they simply are not enough to help with this issue.

    As another solution, you discuss the financial aspects of aiding these students. These figures are quite impressive, particularly the amount of money raised as part of the Campaign for UC Davis. I remember when this began taking place and it is a wonderful thing that so many UC Davis students donated money in order to help their peers. However, adding money to the pot is not the most effective way to aid low-income students.

    After having read the Obama Administration plan of action on this issue that you mention in the first paragraph of your post, it came to my attention that the solutions you suggest, the expansion of STEP and TOP as well as the increase in financial aid, are not the most viable solutions to this problem. These will help students once they begin studying at UC Davis, but none of them address the fact that low-income students are less likely to even apply to this school. The Obama Administration document brings to light the fact that students are most influenced to go to college before eighth grade. While this doesn’t seem like an issue that pertains to you and this University, it is our duty as both a public university and a place of higher education to do what we can to help in this issue.

    Based on the data from the report, it seems that the real programs to bolster for this issue would be those that put UC Davis students in classrooms helping kids to achieve their academic goals. By putting students who have gotten to the university level of their education in these classrooms, it inspires these children to aspire to a higher education. Currently low-income students are less likely to take core curriculum classes that prepare them for college level work. Putting our students in these classrooms can help to encourage these students to take the classes that will allow them to excel enough to get into UC Davis.

    As you mentioned 69% of undergraduate students received some form of non-loan aid. This means that the majority of the student body knows what it means to need and receive financial aid. They have the unique perspective and experience that could be passed on to grade school students to show them that receiving a higher education is both feasible and beneficial for their futures.

    Rather than minimally expanding existing programs and throwing money at the issue, we should take action that would be the most beneficial, not necessarily the easiest. As a public university it is our duty to help encourage low-income students to obtain higher levels of education and to use our resources for the betterment of our school and our community. You state that making this university more accessible and affordable is your highest priority as chancellor, and yet the change you suggest is minimal and does not take into account research done by the White House on this issue. Therefore, as a start, I suggest as a university we follow this research and have more involvement in the elementary levels of education in our area. You say we, “set the standard nationwide for providing educational opportunity to low-income students.” Let’s set a higher standard.

    Chloe Grinberg

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