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Report 95-15: Closing the Door . . . Needed Facilities for California's Colleges and Universities: A Report by the California Postsecondary Education Commission Executive Director Warren H. Fox

Published by The California Postsecondary Education Commission

October 1995

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This statement by Executive Director Warren Halsey Fox addresses a critical problem facing California higher education. In the next 10 years, California faces a demand for educational services for between 400,000 and 500,000 new students at the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California. Most of this surge, which has become known as "Tidal Wave II," will occur after the turn of the century, but if the institutions are to be ready, it is essential that construction begins now to expand existing campuses, renovate old buildings, build new campuses and off-campus centers, invest in new infrastructure, minimize costs and increase productivity, and purchase new equipment that will give the next generation of students the technological skills that they will need to compete in a radically new kind of economy.

There is a widespread agreement that the enrollment demand is real, and agreement as well that education is the key to the future. In spite of that, however, there are grave doubts that California will make the necessary plans, take the necessary actions, and provide the necessary resources to make opportunities as real for the next generation of Californians as has it been for previous ones. The capacity of the independent and private colleges needs to be used as well. According to the recently released Commission report A Capacity for Growth, California higher education needs billions of new dollars for both current operations and capital outlay. On the operations side, it is clear that budgets will be very tight; for facilities, the situation appears to be very nearly impossible. The existing 137 campuses will need about $500 to $600 million per year, on an ongoing basis, to maintain and renovate buildings and infrastructure, as well as to provide necessary improvements to keep the facilities useful in the modern era. For growth, the three systems will need another $400 million per year, for at least the next 10 years, if the projected enrollment demand is to be met. The total is $1 billion per year, every year, for the foreseeable future.

The Commission is not aware of any way or combination of ways to raise such a sum. The best higher education can hope for is to meet about half its need. In this report, Executive Director Fox speaks about the dilemma facing California higher education, and offers some ideas and speculations on the future. Whatever that future holds, it is certain that it will be interlaced with many difficult decisions.

The Commission heard this report at its meeting on October 29, 1995.

Related Topics: Facilities Review | Commission Operations

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