Chancellor addresses community college administrators

Chancellor George Blumenthal told top community college administrators that the University of California has dramatically increased the enrollment of transfer students since setting ambitious goals in 1997, but more needs to be done.

Blumenthal was the keynote speaker October 31 at the fall conference of the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers in Monterey. The group comprises the chief academic officers at the state's 109 community colleges.

Blumenthal said that increases in the enrollment of transfer students were made in every year except the most recent. He said he thinks part of that is due to enrollment declines at the colleges themselves in the past few years. Community college enrollments are up this year, and Blumenthal said he expects transfers to increase in the years to come.

The chancellor noted that community colleges admit a far more diverse population of students than either the University of California or the California State University systems. And community colleges serve a larger proportion of immigrants and their children, Blumenthal said.

UC campuses benefit from the increased diversity of community college transfers, he said.

"Our campuses become better and more diverse--I know UC Santa Cruz certainly does--when we admit junior transfers from community colleges."

Blumenthal recalled that the partnership between the UC and community colleges dates back more than 100 years. The two systems were instrumental in winning legislative approval of state's historic Master Plan for Higher Education nearly 50 years ago, he said.

Lori Gaskin, vice president of academic affairs and student services at Lake Tahoe Community College and president of the organization, said she and her colleagues were impressed by Blumenthal's knowledge of the programs and initiatives designed to assist community college transfers.

Renee Kilmer, vice president of instruction at Cabrillo College, thanked the chancellor for his efforts to increase transfers from Cabrillo and other regional colleges.

John Swensson, interim vice president of instruction at DeAnza College in Cupertino, pointed to UCSC's Karl S. Pister Scholarship program as having a particularly inspiring effect on his students. The scholarship fund founded by the former UCSC chancellor provides a $20,000 annual scholarship to a student from each of the 13 regional community colleges in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties.

This fall, 825 students transferred to UC Santa Cruz. About 87 percent--720--came from the 13 regional colleges. The largest number--119--transferred from Cabrillo College.

Blumenthal said he is committed to ensuring that transfer students succeed when they enroll at UC Santa Cruz.