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The CSU Crisis and California's Future: Authors and Abstracts

Date Published: June 12, 2011

These reports analyze the impact of the fiscal cutbacks on opportunity for higher education in the California State University system, the huge network of 23 universities that provides the bulk of bachelor-level education in the state. The CSU has a much larger undergraduate student body than the University of California system and educates a much larger group of Latino and African American students. Many CSU students are first-generation college students struggling to get an education in difficult times.
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For an overview of the series, please read The CSU Crisis and California's Future: A Note on the Series.

Part One: Squeezed from All Sides

Patricia Gándara and Gary Orfield

Squeezed from all Sides examines the devastating impact state budget cuts and the faltering economy are having on students at one of the California State University system’s largest campuses with a student body that mirrors the statewide enrollment composition of the nation’s largest system of public universities. The report surveys students at CSU, Northridge and shows that they are struggling to finish college as tuition soars, class offerings shrink, and the families are devastated by the economic turndown, the housing crisis, and the very high levels of joblessness and underemployment.  More than half of students reported that their families are relying on them more for financial help, placing huge burdens on students struggling to finish school.

Part Two: Two Studies of a Faculty in Crisis

Faculty Under Siege: Demoralization and Educational Decline

Gary Orfield

In this report, data from an electronic survey of over 400 hundred faculty members at multiple CSU campuses shows that CSU faculty are severely impacted by budget cuts as the sizes of their classrooms increase, and resources and support are cut away.  What they can offer their students is declining given that teaching loads are too big and support too weak. Faculty worry that they cannot teach students to write when they have 60 and 70 in a class. This study offers new data showing specific shifts in workload and sources of stress before and after the budget cuts. The report finds that many professors in the CSU system feel that the cutbacks already implemented, coupled with the substantial cuts projected, put the quality of a CSU education in a rapid downward spiral. Not only is access restricted but quality of instruction is also being eroded.

The Worst of Times: Faculty Productivity and Job Satisfaction During the CSU Budget Crisis

Helen H. Hyun, Rafael M. Diaz, Sahar Khoury

The Worst of Times provides qualitative data on a small sample of faculty on one CSU campus. The authors conclude from in-depth interviews that faculty are experiencing increased workloads, larger class sizes, reductions in salary and resources, and a lack of time for scholarship due to significant budget cuts. These sources of stress, along with declining campus morale and uncertainty about their futures in the profession, all led to reports of diminished career satisfaction and negative impacts on the personal lives of the faculty participants. Faculty of color especially perceived the cuts as compromising their ability to support and counsel students, many of whom are first generation and underrepresented minorities. Female faculty of color appeared to disproportionately shoulder this important advising work, which is so critical for encouraging persistence among students of color.

Part Three: Financing College in Hard Times: Work and Student Aid

Higher Tuition, More Work, and Academic Harm:  An Examination of the Impact of Tuition Hikes on the Employment Experiences of Under-represented Minority Students at One CSU Campus

Amy Leisenring

This study explores the impact of recent budget cuts on Latino, African American and American Indian students, their views on tuition/fee increases and the effects of working in paid employment on their academic success. Leisenring's analysis is based on survey data of 163 under-represented minority students (URM), as well as in-depth interviews with 16 URM students.  The author finds that due to rising college costs and budget cuts, 86% of students surveyed in the study work for pay while in college, with under-represented minority students comprising a large majority of those students who work while in college; 36% reported working over 35 hours per week, while 60% of students report not being able to take the classes they need due to their work schedules. Two-thirds report taking longer to graduate due to work obligations. Across the board students are found to be working too many hours to keep up with their studies and a large proportion (30%) of those surveyed report they may abandon their studies and hopes of getting a college degree.

The State University Grant Program and its Effects on Underrepresented Students at the CSU 

Jose Luis Santos

This research explores the State University Grant Program (SUG), a form of financial aid, and its effects on under-represented students over a 20-year period. The study finds that students who did not qualify for state or federal financial aid have benefitted the most from SUG.  However, the awards are not enough to keep up with tuition.  As need grows and Cal Grant eligibility is tightened, the SUG plays an increasingly important role in helping students to enroll and stay I college. The study asserts that SUG should become a more targeted, need-based aid program to assist the most under-represented and neediest students. The report concludes by urging policymakers to increase state funding for the SUG program so that it can help those students with the greatest financial needs.


Part Four: Dismantling College Opportunity in California

Remediation as a Civil Rights Issue in The California State University System
Kimberly R. King, Suzanne McEvoy and Steve Teixeira

This study finds significant differences in whom the various CSU campuses serve and these differences are exacerbated by remedial education policies spurred by current budget cuts. The study analyzed remediation and disenrollment rates in the CSU between 2004 and 2009, comparing high remediation campuses with those with lower rates of remediation need. High-remediation campuses also serve proportionally more low-income students and students of color  from low-performing, segregated feeder high schools. Students at high-remediation CSU campuses are less likely to complete their remediation courses successfully in their first year and are more frequently disenrolled than those who attend low-remediation campuses serving more affluent and white students. The civil rights implications of remedial policies that limit remedial services and pressure students to take remedial courses before enrolling have not been examined by the University.

Economic Crisis and the California State Public University: The Institutional, Professional and Personal Effects on Faculty and Students
David Boyns, Amy Denissen, and Alexandra Gerbasi

This study focuses on the ways that faculty and students have been differentially affected
by the economic crisis at the CSU, and how the budget cuts have changed the ways that members of the CSU community perceive the university and its future. The study examines faculty and student respondents on the campus of California State University, Northridge (CSUN) during the spring 2010 academic semester.  In general, students and faculty fear that the CSU has become less accessible, less affordable, and less public.

You Will Have To Work Ten Times as Hard at the CSU: Reducing Outreach and Recruitment in Times of Economic Crisis
Rebecca Joseph with the assistance of Mario Castaneda

This study investigates the effects of the budget cuts on the ability of five CSU campuses to provide outreach and recruitment to low-income high school and transfer students. This paper highlights the ways in which the CSU campuses are trying to continue their work using creative, collaborative, and resilient methods with declining resources. Campus leaders worry that cutting outreach programs could result in a gradual reconfiguration of the state’s social hierarchy, disenfranchising segments of California’s population that consist largely of ethnic minority groups. The reduction of early outreach services will be felt most acutely by the state’s Latino and African American communities, and the cutbacks will drastically impede their educational progress.

In compliance with the UC Open Access Policy, this report has been made available on eScholarship:

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