Half a century ago, California made a revolutionary promise: there would be a seat in college for anyone who wanted it.
On June 10, this promise was further advanced with the groundbreaking for the new Sacramento City College Davis Center at UC Davis West Village. The Davis Center will be the first community college extension built on a UC campus and a permanent home for Sacramento City College.
“We are very excited to be part of this partnership in higher education,” said Don Palm, dean of the Sacramento City College Davis Center. “This will be a great opportunity for students who normally wouldn’t have had access to higher education to see that they do in fact have a place at the universities.”
Scheduled to open in spring 2012, the new Davis Center is expected to enroll more than 2,000 students in its first semester.
These community college students will see their courses integrate with programs and activities at a major research university, and will be able to participate in student life at UC Davis, including clubs and undergraduate research.
Admission into the Davis Center, as with all Los Rios colleges, requires only that a student be 18 years of age. The cost of tuition is $26 per unit; a vast difference compared to the $3,994 a UC Davis student pays per quarter in registration fees.
The partnership between UC and Los Rios also offers students a transfer program that gives qualified community college transfer applicants written guarantees of admission to UC Davis.
“With this program, students are more likely to transfer into UC Davis, but we have sent many others to schools like UC Santa Cruz,” Palm said.
UC Davis is also expected to benefit from this partnership. The community college faculty will offer remedial courses to incoming UC Davis freshmen required to take them. The Davis Center’s extended range of foreign language courses, including Punjabi, Persian and Korean will also be available to interested UC Davis students.
The Los Rios district plans to replace the existing college center in South Davis with a new facility in UC Davis’ West Village, a 205-acre development planned as one of the world’s first large-scale “net-zero” communities.
This means that the community, which includes student apartments, below-market housing for faculty and a recreational facility, will generate as much energy as it uses on an annual basis.
Student housing at West Village will be available only to UC Davis students and will begin leasing as early as fall 2011.
As for the Davis Center, the two-story Sacramento City College will include 11 classrooms, a computer lab, an art studio, a career technology center, administration office and counseling space.
“The very core of West Village is education,” said Mary Hayakawa, executive director of Real Estate Services for UC Davis in a statement last year.
According to UC officials, the university’s goal is to build affordable housing where students, faculty and staff can live in close proximity to the main campus.
This promise for equal opportunity was part of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, an initiative from 1960 that aimed to open doors to low-cost higher education and transform California into an economic powerhouse.
The new Sacramento City College Davis Center hopes to advance the master plan by increasing the number of community college transfers to a four-year university.
Even so, many worry that California can no longer continue its commitment to the master plan in the current financial crisis.
However, the construction of the $12.4 million center is funded through the Los Rios Community College district with Measure A bond proceeds, as approved by Sacramento voters in the 2002 election.
“No state funds are being used to develop West Village,” said Pat Turner, Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies at UC Davis.
For the past 50 years, California colleges and universities have attracted and created new technologies, industries and jobs – supporters of the initiative hope that opening more doors to higher education will once again revive California’s economy.
“We hope that this partnership will serve as a model that could be exported to other UC and Cal State campuses,” Turner said. “Many community college students are first generation, and often they set more modest goals than they have to. We are hoping to inspire more folks to pursue higher education.”
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