During a visit with The Bee's editorial board today, the new chancellor of the California State University system shot down an idea Assemblyman Dan Logue has proposed to create a bachelor's degree that would cost students $10,000.
"A $10,000 degree is a good sound bite. But to be honest, it's flawed public policy because it's misleading," said Timothy P. White, who took the reins of the 23-campus system in December after spending four years leading UC Riverside.
Logue's Assembly Bill 51 calls for closer coordination between high schools, community colleges and California State University campuses, allowing students to earn some college credit in high school through Advanced Placement classes and greater access to community college courses.
White and other CSU leaders are in Sacramento for their annual day of advocacy and meetings with lawmakers. Building relationships with the large number of new legislators is a high priority, he said.
"If California cares about African American students being successful, we are a big part of the success story. Same for the Latino population. We graduate 17,000 Latinos every year. They are all going to vote, for these folks," White said, gesturing toward the Capitol.
"So I just want to remind them of the connection between our success and their success."
He said part of the goal is to remind lawmakers that ideas that may seem good for their districts could put pressure on campuses elsewhere in California.
"We want to make sure there isn't legislation that while maybe being well-intended is actually going to hurt opportunities for students," White said.
"The $10,000 degree is an example. We're not going to tell them what to do but they have to understand the implications of some of these things."
A degree at that price would either mean a reduction in quality, White said, or an increase in how much the state contributes to the CSU.
White also talked enthusiastically about incorporating more technology into education, both through online courses and computer programs that would help students plan their courseloads. He said he wants CSU to collaborate with the state's other university system, the University of California, to lower the cost of purchasing items they both use by buying together in bulk.
He also shared details of his personal story as a child who emigrated to California from Argentina and got his start at a community college in the East Bay before transferring to Fresno State.
"I'm the first person in this job who is a CSU product," White said, adding later that he wants to "give back to the system that launched me."
Photo credit: California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White talks to The Bee's editorial board on Tuesday. Sacramento Bee/Laurel Rosenhall