ICYMI: Dr. Lande Ajose's #2019ARC Remarks

California Governor Gavin Newsom's senior higher education policy advisor Dr. Lande Ajose, a former WSCUC Commissioner, offered remarks at the 2019 Academic Resource Conference (ARC) on April 12, 2019. Dr. Ajose shared her personal story of pursing postsecondary education as the daughter of immigrants and outlined the governor's vision for strengthening California's postsecondary education system, raising attainment and improving outcomes, and closing equity gaps.

Read excerpts from Dr. Ajosa's remarks as prepared below, and check back to the WSCUC website for additional recaps and highlights from the 2019 ARC.

On Dr. Ajose's personal pursuit of higher education:

"I was a young black girl, raised by a single mother who often lived on public assistance. And because I was in the country alone, I eventually had a dalliance in the foster care system before emancipating at the age of 18. By all measures, my circumstances suggested that college might not be in my future. And if so, certainly not as a full-time student, and certainly not at a four-year institution. And yet that is exactly what we in higher education are called to do: to ensure that everyone has meaningful access to quality postsecondary education. But that’d not all. We must also ensure that the opportunity to be educated does not just reproduce the historic wealth and inequity deeply rooted in our history as Americans, but instead provides for the kind of economic and social mobility that is deeply rooted in our ideals as Americans. This, in my view, strikes at the heart of accreditation: to ensure that institutions are serving students and the public good."

On California's postsecondary outcomes:

"We've seen how the world has changed over the past few decades: in the places where you have the creativity, the industriousness, the entrepreneurship that comes from training and higher education, good jobs are created. Those good jobs create strong communities. And those strong communities contribute to more education. And it creates a kind of cycle, a cycle of upwards mobility and improvement an opportunity that benefits, students, families, communities and regions, and that reaches people from all backgrounds.

"However, we also know that California is threatened as an economic leader because our colleges, universities – both two and 4 year – are not producing enough highly-skilled graduates. Among the states, despite our economic prowess, California ranks 22nd in terms of the proportion of adults ages 25 to 64 with an associate’s degree or above. And among other industrialized nations, the United States ranks 13th."

On Governor Newsom's higher education budget:

The Governor’s proposed 2019-2020 budget offers the best insight into our initial thinking about how to tackle many of these issues. As an Administration, we’re working to promote access, increase affordability, and improve college completion. We’ve proposed adding an additional $1.43 Billion to the higher education budget (for a total higher ed budget of $36.4B)... The purpose of all our proposals -- enrollment funding, student services, financial aid, all of it – is to live into California’s promise made in the Master Plan for Higher Education that guaranteed that every student would have access, and furthermore, the implicit promise that each of those students would also complete with a degree, or certificate in hand. The entire enterprise of college access and completion in California is based on a premise that quality education is offered and obtained, that choice and opportunity are preserved and that, at the end of the day, students are left better off than they were."

On accreditation:

"Accrediting teams and the commission are on the hook for making sure that the entire college enterprise – admissions and financial aid, teaching and learning, labor issues, costs management, right up to and including gainful employment and reasonable debt – is operating within the purview of what is fair for our students. While those involved in accreditation care very much about the strength and well-being of the institutions, the work is not about benefitting institutions. Accreditation exists to help serve students and the public good, and we must be mindful of a sometimes natural tendency to assume that institutional interests are one and the same as student interests. Too much rides on this basic proposition for it to be any other way. This is the primary responsibility on which trust and faith in these institutions – and the financial aid dollars that flow to them – are based."

To read Dr. Ajose's remarks in full, click here. 

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