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February 16, 1998

UC endorses President Clinton's High Hopes initiative

By Terry Lightfoot
UC Office of the President

The University of California, which is embarked on its own aggressive and innovative academic outreach program, endorsed a plan announced earlier this month by President Clinton to promote college and school partnerships and to prepare low-income students for higher education.

The president's High Hopes initiative, a $140 million competitive grant program, is designed to raise expectations of young people and encourage them to stay in school and go to college. The initiative calls for university-K-12 school partnerships that would provide students with mentoring and other motivational support, financial aid information and opportunities, and access to college-preparatory courses.

At a recent White House ceremony, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl represented the university, and the president cited the Berkeley Pledge, a statewide K-12 outreach program launched by the Berkeley campus in 1995, as a model program.

Clinton's partnership concept closely parallels UC's own systemwide outreach program, begun last year with the UC Board of Regents' adoption of a series of task force recommendations and given further impetus last month by UC President Richard C. Atkinson's Outreach Action Plan.

Commenting on the Clinton initiative, Atkinson said, "We applaud President Clinton for bringing national focus to an issue that is critical to the future of California and the country. The University of California wholeheartedly endorses the president's initiative and looks forward to working with the Clinton administration to raise the aspirations and achievements of young people of all backgrounds."

Regents' Chairman Meredith J. Khachigian called the president's initiative an important acknowledgment of UC's expanded outreach efforts.

"The High Hopes initiative comes at the right time for California," Khachigian said. "We want to increase the pool of students from disadvantaged circumstances and help make them eligible to attend UC and other institutions of higher learning, and we can only succeed by joining forces with schools, the state and federal governments, community organizations, and the private sector."

The university is pursuing a plan developed by the UC Outreach Task Force, a 32-member panel of UC Regents, faculty, staff, and students, business and industry leaders, and representatives of other education sectors and state agencies. The Regents called for the formation of the task force to identify new directions for outreach in light of the elimination of race, gender, and ethnicity as factors in the admission of students to the university.

Under the plan, UC campuses, among other activities recommended by the task force, are forming university-public school partnerships aimed at improving the educational opportunities available to all students, with the goal of doubling the number of UC-eligible students at partner high schools by 2002.

To ensure implementation of the task force recommendations, Atkinson has developed an action plan that enlists Karl Pister, chancellor emeritus of UC Santa Cruz, as coordinator of UC outreach activities, establishes a process for raising the additional funds needed to expand outreach, and calls for intensified personal outreach efforts on the part of the entire UC community including Regents, chancellors, faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

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