Research shows that one way schools can help close racial achievement gaps, particularly between white students and students of color, is to have a more diverse staff. From students in K-12 schools all the way through college, minority students are more likely to pass a class when they have teachers who look like them.
But for California’s 116 community colleges, where many students of color obtain their higher education, a February 2023 state audit found that overall progress to increase faculty diversity remains slow, writes CalMatters’ community college reporter Adam Echelman. The largest discrepancy is among Latino faculty. Though Latino students represent nearly half of community college students, less than 20% of tenured or tenure-track faculty are Latino.
Some college districts say so few people in their communities have the necessary graduate degrees to be qualified professors — and those who are qualified often opt to teach at better-paying schools. State lawmakers and the Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office have introduced hiring initiatives and an estimated $90 million into reforms in the last 20 years to in response — though half that money has come in the last three years.
For more on the lack of faculty diversity at California community colleges, read Adam’s story.
In other higher education news: CalMatters’ Mikhail Zinshteyn reports that retail’s loss is California’s gain: An empty shopping mall is being converted into a state-funded research center focusing on immunology and quantum computing — two disciplines that represent the future of science and technology.
Buttressed by a $500 million commitment from the state in 2022 and philanthropic gifts from billionaires since, UCLA is purchasing the Westside Pavilion to house the research initiatives. Google, which leased part of the space for the past few years, helped with the sale. The centers, which Gov. Newsom said UCLA will finish building in 2027 and be fully operational by 2029, will provide research space and a focus on turning academic findings into commercial products.
- Owen Witte, a UCLA medical researcher and professor: “I cannot think of a single disorder that wouldn’t be better treated if we had a greater insight into the immune system. Diseases as distinct as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, neurodegenerative disorders, atherosclerosis and many more have immune dysregulation as a part of their pathology.”
Wednesday’s press event, inside the former mall, a gutted space with exposed metal and concrete, also drew Gov. Newsom, UC leaders and Sens. Ben Allen of El Segundo and Anthony Portantino of Glendale — both Democrats — and wealthy philanthropists, including Gary K. Michelson. A source said the group of six philanthropists plans to contribute a gift of at least $200 million to the research efforts. Acquiring the mall is costing UCLA $700 million, EuroJournal reported.
The governor touted the UCLA centers as a case of prioritizing science and higher learning in California, which he contrasted with states governed by conservatives.
- Newsom: “The vandalism that’s been done politically by the other party in a lot of these red states is not only worrisome, (but) will have profound consequences on the state of this nation, and our competitiveness around the rest of the globe.”