California colleges, lawmakers turn to technology in face of budget crisis

Critics say Cal State Online is a waste of limited resources.

It now costs more to attend a public California college than Harvard University, and California campus officials are pushing for a centralized online learning repository and lawmakers are proposing a free open source textbook library that could all but eliminate students’ textbook costs, while state budget cuts threaten to make higher education even more expensive in 2013.

The open-source library – an idea that has long been pushed in educational technology circles – has become a serious public policy proposal just months after state schools raised tuition and fees as California faces steep budget shortfalls.

California State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat, introduced a bill last month that would fund a comprehensive online library for the state’s 50 most popular public college courses. Students could access the books in the repository free of charge, or print a paper version for about $20.…Read More

California lawmaker seeks to create open-source library

Online texts offered by many publishers have slashed prices as much as 60 percent from the traditional print editions.

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced Dec. 13 that he will push for legislation to create an online open-source library to reduce the cost of course materials for college students across the state.

Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the average student spends $1,300 a year on textbooks, a figure his staff said is based on projections the University of California, California State University, and community college systems provide to students for budgeting purposes.

Under his proposal, materials for 50 common lower division courses would be developed and posted online for free student access. Ordering a paper copy would cost $20, compared to the $200-plus price tag carried by some books.…Read More

Salary plan for San Diego State president stirs furor

California State University is proposing to pay the new president of its San Diego campus $100,000 more annually than his predecessor, a move that is raising hackles as the university grapples with another round of student tuition hikes amid deep state funding cuts, reports the Los Angeles Times. If the plan is approved Tuesday by the Board of Trustees, San Diego State President Elliot Hirshman would receive annual compensation of $400,000–$350,000 from the state and an annual supplement of $50,000 from the campus’ nonprofit foundation…

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University mistake sends disqualification letters

Officials at California State University, Los Angeles, have apologized to about 500 students who mistakenly received letters saying they’d been academically disqualified from returning for the winter quarter, the Associated Press reports. University officials tell the Los Angeles Times that all of the students were on academic probation, but only 164 students should have received disqualification letters…

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Palin dispute raises questions about university foundations

Palin’s fee and accommodations will be covered entirely by private donations, not state funds, an official said.
Palin’s fee and accommodations will be covered entirely by private donations, not state funds, an official said.

An escalating controversy involving a California State University foundation that hired Sarah Palin to give a speech has shed light on legal loopholes that allow such foundations to operate with little public oversight—and now some stakeholders are calling for greater accountability for these auxiliary organizations.

The state attorney general’s office announced April 13 that it would investigate California State University, Stanislaus, and its foundation for their handling of the contract for Palin’s speech. Meanwhile, a California group that advocates for open government filed a lawsuit April 16 against the university over its refusal to disclose documents related to the speech.

The state attorney general’s investigation has sparked a new round of calls for greater transparency and financial accountability for organizations embedded within California’s public universities, particularly given the size of their assets.…Read More