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Faculty groups form campaign for higher education

May 17, 2011 |  6:18 pm

Decrying what they said is an “assault” on higher education, college faculty groups from California and other states launched a national campaign Tuesday for a larger voice in education funding and policy decisions.

At a Washington, D.C., news conference, faculty leaders from California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and other states said they have formed a new initiative, the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, that will bring together faculty, students, labor and nonprofit groups.

Part of the initiative includes the creation of a think tank, whose members will turn a broad set of principles into policy recommendations that will be introduced at the state level and on campuses.

The campaign was spawned during a meeting of 64 faculty representatives from 21 states at a January 
meeting in Los Angeles, the organizers said.

“We recognized that all of us were working incredibly hard to cobble together a quality education for our students under crumbling and toxic circumstances,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Assn., which represents Cal State University employees. “Because of our isolation we were simply losing the battle. This is about changing that dynamic, tearing down walls among faculty but more importantly bringing together faculty and other groups passionate about higher education.”

The campaign comes as public college systems throughout the nation face funding reductions that have forced layoffs and higher tuitions as well as cuts in classes and enrollment.

In California, the state has approved budget cuts totaling $1 billion to the UC and Cal State systems, and that number could double if tax extensions proposed by Gov. Brown are not approved.   

In Pennsylvania, the governor has proposed cutting the budget for higher education by 54%, said Steve Hicks, president of the Assn. of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties.

“We have to start facing another truth, we can’t provide quality education or access to it on the cheap,” Hicks said.

-- Carla Rivera