The California Postsecondary Education Commission, the state's independent agency for higher education policy planning, research and analysis, will close its doors on Friday. The commission's funding for 2011-12 was eliminated by Governor Jerry Brown in a line item budget veto on June 30.
The Legislature created CPEC in 1973 as successor to the Coordinating Council for Higher Education, part of the state's 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education. CPEC has coordinated planning for the state's three public higher education systems and independent universities.
The 16 members of the commission, representing the Governor, the Legislature, and the education systems, provided research-based policy advice on higher education issues.
CPEC conducted reviews of new programs and facilities and advised if they met criteria for state spending, and evaluated admissions policies at the University of California and California State University for consistency with eligibility targets in the Master Plan. CPEC also maintained enrollment, degree, cost, and other data on California higher education, and administered federal grant funds to colleges and universities for teacher professional development.
"The commission thanks its many constituents and stakeholders for their commitment to a higher education system that helps California ensure a strong economy and a good quality of life for its citizens. It is regrettable that the state, in trying to balance the budget, has discarded a low-cost agency whose value to policymakers was to help wisely spend the far vaster amounts of state dollars allocated to the public colleges and universities and student aid. We urge the Legislature to consider the importance of higher education planning, coordination, data, and policy informed by rigorous research. The state needs an independent agency such as CPEC, and we believe policymakers should revisit this need when the budget picture improves," said Commission Executive Director Karen Humphrey, in a statement.
CPEC's extensive database has been transferred on an interim basis to the Chancellor's Office of the California Community Colleges, but its long-term maintenance is undetermined. The CPEC website, www.cpec.ca.gov, is still online, but its future is also uncertain. CPEC's reports and historical materials have been transferred to the State Archives and the California State Library in print and electronic form. The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program, which is federally funded, will be transferred to the California Department of Education. Many of the commission's 21 staff members have found other positions or are retiring, though some still face layoff when CPEC closes on Friday.