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Commission History

California State Seal The 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education recognized that critical to the success of the State's tripartite system of public higher education was a central body responsible for coordination and planning for higher education. The California Postsecondary Education Commission was established in 1974 as the State planning and coordinating body for higher education by Assembly Bill 770 (Chapter 1187 of the Statutes of 1973), Education Code Section Education Code 66900-66906. The Commission serves a unique role in integrating policy, fiscal, and programmatic analyses about California's entire system of postsecondary education; "to assure the effective utilization of public postsecondary education resources, thereby eliminating waste and unnecessary duplication, and to promote diversity, innovation, and responsiveness to student and societal needs through planning and coordination."

The Commission provides the legislative and the executive branches of government with advice and information about major policy and planning issues concerning education beyond high school. This comprehensive, statewide planning for postsecondary education in the State is perhaps the most significant of the Commission's multiple responsibilities.


The Commission consists of 16 members who are paid a stipend of $100 per meeting day. Nine of the commissioners represent the general public, with three each appointed for six-year terms by the Office of the Governor, the Senate Rules Committee, and the Speaker of the Assembly. Five others represent the major systems of postsecondary education in California: the California Community Colleges, the California State University, the University of California, the independent colleges and universities, and the California State Board of Education. Two student members are appointed by the Office of the Governor.

The Commission appoints its executive director who coordinates the agency's staff to carry out the day to day work of the Commission. Its external affairs staff interacts on a daily basis with legislators and their staff, administrative offices, governmental officials, and media representatives. Its research staff prepares analyses, briefs, and numerous publications approved and published by the Commission. They also engage in various continuing activities such as reviewing proposed academic programs, new campuses or centers, conducting data analysis of student flow, and responding to requests of the Legislature and Governor.


While there are many tasks and responsibilities which the Commission and its staff fulfill, the primary statutory purposes of the California Postsecondary Education Commission are:
  • Develop an ongoing statewide plan for the operation of an educationally and economically sound, vigorous, innovative and coordinated system of postsecondary education;
  • Identify and recommend policies to meet the educational, research and public service needs of the State of California; and
  • Advise the Governor and Legislature on policy and budget priorities that best preserve broad access to high quality postsecondary education opportunities.
In carrying out its responsibilities, the Commission reflects a deep commitment to serving the State as a whole, consistent with the underlying philosophy of the state's Master Plan for Higher Education. The Commission is committed to an educational environment that exemplifies equality and educational opportunity, as well as a focus on student and institutional achievement and accountability.


Among the duties and responsibilities of the Commission are the following:
  • Provide independent, comprehensive, and timely information about student enrollment, educational outcomes and other educational policy issues;
  • Conduct long-range planning of the needs for new college or university campuses in light of projected enrollment demand;
  • Review proposals from public colleges and universities for new degree programs;
  • Serve as the State's primary information clearinghouse for postsecondary education;
  • Evaluate budget requests of State-supported colleges and universities;
  • Develop policy recommendations regarding financial aid programs for California students;
  • Seek strategies for greater efficiency and cost containment in postsecondary education;
  • Administer federal programs that improve teacher training by facilitating collaboration between K-12 and higher education faculties;
  • Recommend to the Legislature and the Governor legislation the Commission deems necessary or appropriate to improve postsecondary education in California;
  • Encourage greater cooperation and collaboration between and among California educational systems.
The Commission holds scheduled meetings which are open to the public.