Statement on the selection of Michael V. Drake as the 21st president of the University of California

Today, the University of California (UC) Board of Regents selected Michael V. Drake as the 21st president of the UC system. President-elect Drake follows outgoing President Janet Napolitano, who has served since 2013.

“The Board of Regents embarked upon a presidential search to find the most qualified leader for the UC and California in 2020 and that leader is Michael V. Drake. Drake is the first Black president of the UC system in its 152-year history and comes with a remarkable record of being unabashed in supporting access, completion, and racial equity,” stated Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

Michael V. Drake is a seasoned higher education administrator and has served as a former president of The Ohio State University (OSU) and a former chancellor of UC Irvine. “We applaud the UC Regents for their diligent work to identify and select a president who understands the urgency to improve access, transfer, and graduation rates at UC and who we expect will close persistent racial and ethnic gaps in student outcomes,” added Siqueiros. Read more

UC and CSU To Face Nearly $1 Billion Budget Cut Without Federal Assistance

Governor Newsom and the State Legislature Make Difficult Cuts and Payment Deferrals While Trying to Protect the State’s Most Vulnerable Students

Governor Newsom and the Legislature made difficult budget decisions amid the grim economic outlook of the nation brought on by COVID-19. Calls for the federal government to provide additional emergency funding have not yet been answered, and as a result, California’s colleges and universities may be forced to balance their budgets on the backs of talented, qualified students.

“Without federal funds, tuition could be raised, course offerings and enrollment reduced, and student support services cut at a time when families and the California economy can least afford it,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

A total of nearly $1 billion in trigger cuts are on the table if the fedes fail to come through: $470 million at the University of California (UC) and $500 million at the California State University (CSU). Although California’s Community Colleges do not face trigger cuts, they will have to contend with over $700 million in deferrals forcing campuses to rely on reserves, borrowing, and fundraising to stave off cuts. “Each of the 72 districts and 114 campuses are in a different economic situation with different levels of reserves and outside revenue sources. If campuses cannot support their operations during the deferral period, we might as well call it a budget cut,” added Siqueiros. Read more

U.S. Supreme Court to Allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program to Continue

Congress Must Act Swiftly to Provide Legal Status to DACA Recipients

Home IS here, and today we applaud the U. S. Supreme Court for its decision, which upholds the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and found that the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious stating, “…we conclude that the Acting Secretary did violate the Administrative Procedures Act, and that the rescission (of DACA) must be vacated.”

We are grateful for the leadership of President Janet Napolitano and the University of California’s Board of Regents, who led the lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s actions and in defense of DACA. We are especially proud of our Board Chair and President and General Counsel of MALDEF, Thomas Saenz, who has been a national leader defending DACA on behalf of students and families in the U.S. judicial system.

California recognizes the tremendous value immigrants bring to the fabric of our state and the inextricable ties that bind our collective future. College opportunity is key to ensuring that California can meet its economic goals, maintain its global standing, and keep up with technological advances. As California’s economy becomes increasingly reliant on a better-educated workforce and further connected to a global marketplace for its services and products, immigrants are poised to make major contributions to future growth. Read more

Recommendations for BOARS on Strengthening Equity in Freshman and Transfer Admissions

Thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts with you today. As you already know, for the past 16 years I’ve led the Campaign for College Opportunity with a focus on expanding college access and success in California and with an unabashed focus on closing equity gaps that persist in student preparation for college, admission into college, and success through college. As a native Californian, a first generation Latina college graduate, a UCLA alum, and a proud product of affirmative action . . . our organizational mission isn’t something I just do, it’s a purpose and avocation that allows me every single day to address the equal parts guilt and pride I feel for having made it.

I also want to be clear that you shouldn’t diminish or devalue this passion – it comes backed with facts, experience, and an abundance of political strategy to press for change in higher education (including the UC) that could and should be more diverse and inclusive, and yet is not sufficiently so.

I appreciate the invitation to discuss how the BOARS can advance a more equitable admissions process for both freshman and transfer applicants. It is the right question to be asking and answering, especially as we reflect on the historic decision by the UC Board of Regents just two weeks ago on standardized testing.

I know the challenge before every campus in identifying a fair admissions process is a paramount goal. But in practice, admissions practices have disparate impact. Admissions processes identify what a campus values – and places those values in unequal weight to achieve some aspired and hopeful (but impossible) place of objectivity.

As you consider how to make admissions more equitable, I urge you to ask the harder questions: Read more

University of California Makes Historic Decision to End Use of the SAT and ACT for Eligibility and Admission to their Campuses

Today, the University of California (UC) Regents voted unanimously (23-0) to improve college admissions by ending their reliance on the SAT and ACT in their admissions process. We applaud UC President Janet Napolitano and the Regents for this bold step in creating a more equitable admissions process that does not rely on racially biased admissions tests.

After several education advocates, researchers, and Regents cited that the SAT and ACT discriminate based on race/ethnicity and income during today’s UC Regents meeting, the Regents voted to extend the current test-optional model—instituted due to restricted access to testing brought on by COVID-19—for another two years before going test-blind, a model where the SAT and ACT will not be used in admissions at all. Student Regent Jamaal Muwwakkil had a message for those concerned about measures to increase diversity at the institution: “Prestige has been juxtaposed with diversity and selectivity with equity, and I don’t know if that aligns with who we want to be in the future.”

“The University of California’s decision sends a clear message that biased, pay-to-play admissions tests will no longer be tolerated,” said Michele Siqueiros, Campaign for College Opportunity president.  “After years of research pointing to the racial and income biases of these tests that fuel a billion-dollar industry more concerned with profits than fairness, coupled with the recent College Admissions Scandal, it is time for colleges and universities across the country to do more than simply talk about their ‘Commitments to Diversity.’  They must finally act on them by eliminating admissions practices that discriminate based on a student’s zip code, income status, and race/ethnicity.” Read more. 

California Community Colleges Make Encouraging Progress on Transfer, Completion and Closing Racial Equity Gaps

Amidst the sobering backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Community Colleges announced good news yesterday on progress toward meeting a set of systemwide goals for improving student success with marked growth in the conferring of the Associate Degree for Transfer.

In Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley’s 2020 State of the System Report, the Chancellor reports out on progress toward goals laid out in the 2017 Vision for Success. The Vision for Success is an ambitious five year plan that calls for increasing by 20% the number of students earning a college credential annually, increasing by 35% the number of students transferring to the state’s public universities, and eliminating gaps in completion by race/ethnicity and income.


  • Number of students who earned a college credential increased to 140,335 up from 117,00 in 2016-17 meeting the goal of at least a 20% annual increase. 
  • Number of students transferring to the University of California and California State University rose to 87,170, a six percent increase from two years earlier. 
  • The number of students earning an Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) increased by more than 40 percent. 
  • Gaps between Latinx and White students in completion of transfer-level English are closing. Read more

Permanently Ending Reliance on the SAT and ACT to Accelerate Equity in UC Admissions

Dear Chair Perez, Vice Chair Estolano, and President Napolitano:

The undersigned education equity, civil rights, and K-12 organizations and leaders support President Janet Napolitano’s historic recommendation to eliminate the University of California’s (UC) reliance on standardized tests in eligibility and admission decisions.

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing inequities in access and college preparation for Black, Latinx, Native American, and other underrepresented students. We applaud the UC for suspending the standardized testing requirement for Fall 2021 applicants given the limited access and preparation opportunities available to our most vulnerable student populations, amidst the pandemic. We urge the Regents to vote yes on the President’s recommendations that will make this accommodation a long-term solution to admissions. Eliminating the SAT and ACT will support talented Latinx, Black, Asian American Native American Pacific Islander (AANAPI), and other historically underrepresented students in their applications to the UC.

For decades, eligibility and admissions policies requiring standardized tests have given affluent, overrepresented students preferential treatment in college access as they are more likely to purchase expensive test preparation, instruction and guidance for standardized tests. While those privileged students fill coveted, at-capacity seats across the UC, highly capable, low-income, Black, Latinx, Native American, and subgroups of Asian students are too often denied access to our state’s premier research institutions. Read more.

Governor Newsom’s 2020-21 May Revision Budget Proposal Warns of Nearly $2 Billion in Draconian Cuts to Higher Education if Federal Government Fails to Assist California


Governor Newsom had difficult decisions and serious cuts to make in this 2020-21 budget proposal, and it is clear things will get significantly worse if the federal government fails to provide needed assistance.

We call on Congress and the President to invest in a rapid economic recovery, by providing deserved federal assistance to our state in recognition that there cannot be an American recovery, without a California one.

In his updated budget proposal, Governor Newsom is responding to the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19 and eliminates many of his January proposals to expand enrollment funding for our public colleges and universities. Without aid from the federal government, California’s community colleges and universities stand to lose nearly $2 billion: $388 million at the University of California, $398 million at the California State University, and a total of $1.09 billion at the community colleges. Read more

Student Recommendations for Protecting College Opportunity Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear University of California, California State University, and California Community College Leadership:

The California Students Higher Education Advocacy Round Table (HEART) is a coalition of student-led organizations, associations and partners from across California dedicated to cultivating and empowering the next generation of student leaders by providing an ongoing venue for community college and university students to have statewide conversations and collaborate on key priorities in public higher education.

The California Students HEART coalition recognizes the extraordinary circumstances that our campus and system leaders face, as you work swiftly to keep students, faculty and staff safe. We appreciate the bold leadership many campus and system leaders have shown by providing resources such as emergency basic needs grants, extending credit/no credit deadlines and offering paid leave to student workers, but access to these resources are inconsistent across campuses. Our student leaders and advocates have convened to discuss student concerns, campus response and system responses by the CCC, UC and CSU (or lack thereof) to student needs amid the COVID-19 outbreak. As you weigh in on emerging policy changes during this difficult time, our coalition of student leaders has outlined the following recommendations for your urgent consideration: Read more

Statement on the University of California’s Changes to Admissions Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

We applaud University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano, the Regents and faculty leaders for their decision to ease admissions requirements for 2021 applicants. Their rapid response will ensure both admitted and prospective students have the opportunity to attend the UC despite the disruption to education this pandemic has caused.

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed and exacerbated underlying inequities in our K-12 educational systems. Many students are struggling with accessing basic technology and internet service to engage in online learning. First-generation students are unable to access the high-touch counseling and guidance they need to navigate their college admissions decisions if they are seniors or the college application process if they are juniors. More and more students are dealing with the stress and realities of job loss and illness in their families and may be realizing that their financial aid offers are no longer sufficient. Learning from home may pose a number of new challenges that have a negative impact on grades, jeopardizing grade point averages. Without intervention, these challenges could impact a student’s decision to enroll this fall or—for juniors in high school—to apply to the UC. UC’s bold move to ease admission requirements, however, will ensure all students have their rightful spot at the state’s premier research institution. Read more