University of California President Janet Napolitano was in San Diego this week.
Napolitano spoke with KPBS Evening Edition host Peggy Pico about UC funding, enrollment caps and the possibility of a UC Chula Vista.
The former Arizona governor and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security also spoke about her recent award from the National Conflict Resolution Center. The center said it awarded Napolitano the National Peacemaker Award, in part, for how she is addressing campus sexual violence.
Question: Funding for the UC system is a continuing debate. Earlier this month you said unless the state increases funding by $218 million dollars, you’ll cap enrollment for in-state students. You’re meeting regularly with Gov. Brown about this, how close are you to resolving the issue?
Napolitano: Well, I think we’re both very mindful of the concern that Californians have, but also the need for the University of California to remain the premier public university in the country. So, what we’ve done is just say look, we’re not going to increase California enrollment. Normally, we would increase the size of the entering class. We’re going to keep the size of the entering class, for now, at the same size as it was last year until we work out with the state a budget that would actually pay for more California resident students.
Question: Your proposal to raise student tuition by 28 percent over the next 5 years would make an affordable college education even less attainable for many students. What obligation does the UC system have to provide an affordable college education to students in California?
Napolitano: We do — we have that obligation, and when you say 28 percent, people go "Oh my gosh, you cant do that." What we’ve said is "Look, we’ve had a tuition freeze for three years, costs increase, the numbers of students increase, what we want to do is not increase tuition for California residents if we don’t have to. We also want to maintain our current financial aid policy." Which says that anyone from a family that makes less than $80,000 pays no tuition at all so this tuition increase wont even affect them, that’s 55 percent of our undergraduate student body right there. When you talk about the tuition increase what it’s designed to do is say "Look, we want to go on a five-year track so that tuition is predictable. We want to keep any increases as low as we can so its capped at five." Remember in the past there have been double digit tuition increases, we don’t want to do that, and then we’re gonna work with the state about what a real funding model should look like.
Question: Earlier this month, an Assembly bill was introduced that aims to begin the process for establishing an 11th UC campus. There’s talk in San Diego County about a future UC Chula Vista campus with a focus on "STEAM" or science, tech, engineering, arts and math. What direction are you considering for growing the UC system to meet changing demographic and population demands?
Napolitano: The number one thing is to fund our current campuses adequately. So our newest campus, Merced, next week at the Regents meeting, will hopefully, I think they will approve what we call Merced 2020, which builds out that campus to accommodate 10,000 students by the year 2020. So I think that should be our focus now as well as supporting our existing campuses like UC San Diego to make sure that they remain at the high quality that they are and that they’re affordable to California students.
Question: Congratulations on receiving the National Peacemaker Award last night from the National Conflict Resolution Center. One of the reasons you were honored—was because of how you addressed the problem of sexual assault on campus—including your launch of a UC Task Force last summer to address campus sexual violence. What do you think is the key to stopping campus sexual assaults?
Napolitano: To be very clear that, yes means yes, and that there had to be a knowing and an intentional acquiescence before any acts occur and also now to have kind of a culture change, to really focus on prevention and how people should relate to one another, so a lot of our program will involve training and we also want to make sure we conduct adequate quick investigations and that appropriate sanctions are imposed.