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Greetings Pathways Trailblazers!

Meeting the additional 1.1 million bachelor degree goal by 2030 will require not only redesigns of the internal systems for all four higher education systems in California—CCC, CSU, UC, and independent colleges—but also a redesign of how we efficiently at at-scale facilitate students’ transition points from high school to the community college and from the community college to the university.
That problem anchored the dialogue at the November 15 Intersegmental Pathways Symposium in Bakersfield. Kern Community College District Chancellor Tom Burke welcomed over 400 attendees from all four higher education systems in California, their K12 and industry partners, and policymakers convened to initiate a statewide commitment to address the baccalaureate shortfall by 2030. Be sure to check out Career Ladders Project’s write-up on the event for details about each panel. Special thanks to Naomi Castro and the Career Ladders team for their work.
Building upon the recommendations from the Public Policy Institute of California, I outlined an expanded set of strategies to increase equitable completion of baccalaureate degrees:
  • For rural communities and other areas in California where educational attainment levels are low, incorporate Early College Pathways to Baccalaureate Completion using the Program Pathways Mapper by the 9th grade.
  • Promote innovative approaches to scale up baccalaureate attainment, e.g., Brandman University’s competency-based education, Arizona State University’s online programs.
  • Among students that are new to the CSU, increase the proportion of California community College transfer students, with a goal of reaching 75%. 
  • Strengthen transfer pathways from community colleges to UCs as well as to independent colleges and universities. 
  • Expand the community college bachelor degree program.
In this edition, I will highlight the policy solutions the keynote panel addressed, and in two subsequent releases, I will feature all 18 panelists and provide a deeper treatment of the work discussed in the panels:
From Panel #1: Pathways from High School to Community College
  • Linda Collins, Executive Director Career Ladders Project (Moderator)
  • Dr. Kristin Clark, President West Hills College Lemoore
  • Dr. Lori Bennett, President Clovis Community College
  • Kevin Tallon, Principal Wasco High School Early College
  • Christian Chavez, KCCD Student Trustee Porterville College
From Panel #2: Pathways from Community College to University
  • Steven Holmes, President of Academic Senate, Bakersfield College (Moderator)
  • Dr. Joe Wyse, President Shasta College
  • Jackie Cruz, Vice President of Advancement and Development Hartnell College
  • Noemi Donoso, Sr. Vice President, The Wonderful Company Wonderful Education
From Panel #3: Intersegmental Curricular Data Sharing
  • Dr. Craig Hayward, Dean of Organizational Effectiveness Bakersfield College (Moderator)
  • Justin Derrick, Principal McFarland High School
  • Kris Grappendorf, Kinesiology Faculty CSU Bakersfield
  • Dr. Joanna Schilling, President Cypress College
  • Samantha Pulido, BCSGA President Bakersfield College
From Panel #4: Effective Partnerships/Lessons from Presidents/Chancellors
  • Dr. Joseph Jones, President Fresno Pacific University (Moderator)
  • Dr. Wolde-Ab Isaac, Chancellor Riverside Community College District
  • Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, President CSU Bakersfield
  • Dr. Gregg Camfield, Vice Chancellor and Provost UC Merced
Assemblyman Rudy Salas, Assemblymember, California’s 32 nd District
"We have a responsibility to break through
the bureaucracy and to leverage policy
to advance our shared vision on behalf
of our students and our communities."
Salas moderated the keynote panel with California educational policy influencers. He expressed how intersegmental pathways work makes it easier for lawmakers like him to identify and secure funding for education because it gives schools the ability to clearly communicate outcomes.
Eloy Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges
"You can’t wait for Sacramento to get things going. You have to start here, start now, and take responsibility and accountability for every single student in this community. "
C hancellor Oakley urged all educational sectors to leave behind the silos of the past, calling upon the field to innovate locally and regionally so that policymakers in Sacramento can see and react to those innovations. A summary of Chancellor Oakley’s key priorities include:
  • Address equity by targeting resources to high-need communities in Inland California, ensuring those regions are front-and-center, leading the way for educational opportunities
  • Break down silos so that educational systems are not institution-centric but instead student-centric
  • Establish a data sharing system that will allow us to understand the student journey and their needs across educational segments in a way that will enable us to personalize learning and support while tracking student progress all the way into the workforce.
Lande Ajose, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Newsom
  "The opportunity to go to college
is not equitably distributed. Unless you equitably distribute that opportunity,
you’re exacerbating the kinds of income inequality that we’ve already seen occur."
Ajose shared Governor Newsom’s educational vision and his ambitious “California for All” agenda which focuses on support for the community college, CSU, and UC systems as engines for economic mobility, making clear the Governor’s office will be committed to addressing increasing the total cost of attendance , inclusive of non-tuition costs (books, room & board, and transportation) that can range from about $8,900 per year at a community college (compared to $1100 for tuition) to about $18,600 at a UC. Dr. Ajose shared several key priorities of the Newsom Administration for higher education:
  • Increase collaborative work across systems through the formation of the Governor’s Council for Post-Secondary Education and the recently announced K-16 Collaborative
  • Define student degree attainment goals intersegmentally, by region, and with equity at the center
  • Address the long-term wealth gap by preparing students for the future of work
Lupita Alcala, Chief Deputy to CA State Superintendent of Public Instruction

"Put the complexity behind the green curtain. Allow [students] to have an experience through education that they don’t even feel. We need to focus attention on ensuring that the transition is seamless."
On behalf of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, Chief Deputy Superintendent Lupita Alcala made explicit that school funding reform and mental health resources are crucial to closing equity gaps in baccalaureate attainment. In fact, Alcala noted that mental health is the #1 issue identified by students in the Student Aid Commission survey . Funding reform includes improving the effectiveness of our communication to students about financial aid, as well as, including living costs in the financial aid formula. A summary of key priorities include:
  • Address College affordability, reform financial aid formula for all students, and ensure the lowest income students have the support they need
  • Focus attention on mental health to the discussion about college access and affordability
  • Create a seamless experience for the student
California is facing significant challenges but I have great confidence that the faculty, staff, and administrators in the California Community Colleges with our colleagues in the K12, CSU, UC, and independent college/university systems will rise to meet those challenges. We are fortunate to have passionate, great thinkers in private foundations, business, and government who are supporting us in this effort. This is a great time to be in education in California.
With much warmth and collegiality,


Sonya Christian
President, Bakersfield College
Pictured from Left to Right: Sonya Christian, Lande Ajose,
Eloy Oakley, Lupita Alcala, Rudy Salas, and Mary Barlow
Thank you to our Gold level event sponsors:
College Futures Foundation, The Wonderful Company, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and the University of California Office of the President.