The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

July 19, 2010
UC Davis Chancellor cautious regarding online degrees

The editorial board met with University of California, Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi this afternoon in a wide-ranging recap of her first year on campus.

Last year, she spoke to the board about the challenges of fulfilling the public mission of the university in an era of reduced state funding. "That mission," she said, "has been compromised by the inability to fund it. ... The struggle is to keep quality in place and to keep it affordable."

That challenge remains.

Katehi.jpgOn Monday, she handed out a pie chart showing that only 21 percent of UC Davis operating funds came from the state in 2008-09. Public universities that once were publicly funded and free to students, she said, now "are only partially supported by the state...but the mission remains the same: access to excellence."

The more the state cuts, she acknowledged, the more pressure there is to raise funds from other sources. She, herself, spends at least one day a week fundraising out of the office.

She responded to a question on action last week by the University of California Board of Regents and UC President Mark Yudof endorsing the idea of developing a fully online undergraduate degree, which UC Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley had said would make a UC degree "available to people in Kentucky and Kuala Lumpur."

Chancellor Katehi made it clear she does not support the idea of "an education without placing a foot on campus." But she could support a "hybrid model" with parts of a course online and part in the classroom, which she believes allows more students to have access to courses.

She thought there may be some areas where students could do a full degree online, "but not a bachelor's degree." She said that UC Davis "will be cautious" and "will not be the first" in pursing online degrees. She said UC Davis would look at a hybrid model.

The editorial board will explore some of the chancellor's other ideas in future editorials. Stay tuned.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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