Following the system leadership panel discussion earlier this month at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) Higher Education Government Relations Conference, California Community Colleges Chancellor Dr. Brice W. Harris talked to Diverse about the population growth of first-generation college students and the diversity concerns of underrepresented groups. The California system, the largest higher education system in the nation, is comprised of 112 campuses and serves 2.4 million students.
Q: With regard to the high percentages of first-generation college students, what is the priority level to ensure those students are not only well represented on your campus, but how they matriculate and what services are available to them especially when they come from largely underrepresented groups?
A: For our institutions we have chartered a new pathway for student success. Part of the important first step is to get the data that shows how our students are doing, so for the first time we have what’s called College by College Accountability that disaggregates those data so we can look at how are students are doing by race and ethnicity, by age and gender and we find some very troubling performance gaps. So for us, it’s not only about all of our students succeeding at higher rates, it’s also about closing those gaps. <Read the rest of the interview.>