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January 19, 1998

UC launches new outreach initiative

UCSC Chancellor Emeritus Karl S. Pister to play leading role

By Rick Malaspina
UC Office of the President

Saying that the University of California and all of higher education in the state have "entered a new era in terms of how we allocate educational opportunity," UC President Richard C. Atkinson unveiled a major new initiative to help prepare greater numbers of California young people for a university education.

Addressing the UC Board of Regents at their January 15 meeting in San Francisco, Atkinson described the initiative--called the Outreach Action Plan--as the "next step" in the Regents' mandate to develop new directions and increased funding for outreach, now that UC policy and state law have eliminated the use of race, gender, and ethnicity as factors in the admission of students.

"I believe that we owe much of our success in achieving diversity over the past 30 years to our highly effective affirmative action efforts," he added. "Yet I also believe the university now has the opportunity to shape an approach to diversity that puts greater emphasis on individual promise and potential, less on characteristics like one's gender or the color of one's skin."

Atkinson's Outreach Action Plan has three main elements:

"We are proposing to improve the educational experience and preparation of K-12 students on a scale and scope never attempted before," Atkinson said in presenting his plan. "This is an extraordinarily ambitious goal, but if there is any state in the Union that can succeed, it is California."

He added that to accomplish this goal, "We must rely not only on our own efforts but also on the active participation and support of our partners in the schools, business and community organizations, and the state and federal governments."

Atkinson's plan seeks to implement in a comprehensive and coordinated way the recommendations of the UC Outreach Task Force, a 32-member panel of Regents, UC faculty, staff, and students, business and industry leaders, representatives of the state's major education sectors, and officials from the state Department of Education and the Postsecondary Education Commission. The Board of Regents called for the formation of the task force to help establish new paths to ensuring educational opportunity in California and continued access to UC for qualified students.

The task force recommended that UC, in order to improve the preparation of students, should undertake a major expansion of its academic outreach to the state's K-12 schools, creating long-term partnerships with selected schools to improve their ability to educate and motivate students.

Other recommendations called for increased efforts to work directly with students to strengthen their academic preparation; better and more timely information about UC programs to be provided to students, families, teachers, and counselors; and expanded UC research in understanding the root causes of disparities in educational motivation and achievement, and how these disparities can be addressed.

In recent months, the Office of the President, under the leadership of Provost C. Judson King, has joined with UC campuses in beginning to implement the task force recommendations. Two campuses, UCLA and Davis, made presentations to the Regents at today's meeting describing their efforts in response to the task force recommendations.

The Outreach Action Plan presented to the Regents by Atkinson is intended to provide added impetus and support through the deployment of these strategies:

Atkinson also said he would report to the Regents regularly on the implementation of the Outreach Action Plan, starting with the board's February policy meeting.

"We want to see that this issue receives the wide visibility and attention it deserves," Atkinson said. "The Outreach Action Plan is one of my highest priorities. We are mobilized and organized and believe we know how to succeed. I intend to give it my personal attention and involvement."

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