by Jesús Mena
With the preservation of student diversity as its central task, a UC systemwide task force conducted a day-long session Feb. 1 to explore ways to broaden the opportunities UC offers to disadvantaged students.
The 32-member task force organized by UC President Richard C. Atkinson includes university representatives, business leaders and representatives of other segments of education.
The meeting was held at the Clark Kerr Campus.
Atkinson organized the UC Outreach Task Force after the UC Board of Regents passed a resolution eliminating race, ethnicity and gender as considerations in the student admis
sions process. That resolution is expected to reduce the numbers of African- American, Chicano/Latino and Native American students in the UC system.
"Outreach is our most important means of promoting diversity in both our graduate and undergraduate programs," said Atkinson.
"We will never succeed in qualifying more disadvantaged students for the university unless we succeed in giving them a strong academic start in life, from kindergarten through high school," said Atkinson. "So strengthening our outreach partnership with the schools is key."
Atkinson recently earmarked $2 million to further increase outreach efforts through the president's Plan to Raise Educational Participation (PREP). The task force will advise Atkinson on the best way to invest the funds for the PREP initiative.
UC has conducted outreach programs for more than 30 years. The task force is being asked to review existing programs, recommend ways to expand efforts to enroll a diverse student body and identify new sources of funding for these efforts.
Chancellor Tien, who is a UC task force member, said UC needs to look at outreach in new ways, addressing the academic needs of students beginning in kindergarten. He pointed to the campus's Berkeley Pledge as an innovative approach and said the campus is ready and eager to collaborate with the other UC campuses.
The UC task force is co-chaired by Richard A. Clarke, former chair and chief executive officer of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and C. Judson King, UC interim provost for academic affairs.