Higher education takes center stage at Cal State L.A. town hall

Joint Higher Education Town Hall

An enthusiastic gathering of more than a hundred people filled Cal State L.A.’s University-Student Union Theatre Thursday night for a town hall on higher education.  

Co-hosted by Cal State L.A. and UCLA, the town hall brought together representatives of the systems of public higher education, elected officials, students, faculty, staff and community members. 

Panelists included U.S. Representative Judy Chu, State Treasurer John Chiang, and State Senator Ed Hernandez.

“Our elected officials will discuss the most challenging problems and the most compelling possibilities facing public colleges and universities today,” Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino said in his opening remarks.

Moderated by Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., the discussion covered a wide range of topics such as Pell grants, effective methods of lobbying elected officials for higher education support, and student loan debt. 

“I think this is the most pressing issue facing students in higher education today,” Chu said in response to the question on student loan debt. “I think there she should be a way for students to refinance their loans at today’s lower interest rates.”

Responding to a question about lobbying elected officials for support, Hernandez explained the impact of student representatives.

“What is most compelling to me [is]…having students tell their stories,” Hernandez told the audience.  

The audience also included presidents and chancellors of local colleges and universities: Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez, of the Los Angeles Community College District; President Laurence Frank, of Los Angeles Trade Tech College; President Renee Martinez, a Cal State L.A. alumna who heads Los Angeles City College; President Marvin Martinez, of East Los Angeles College; and Scott Waugh, executive vice chancellor and provost of UCLA.

The participating universities and colleges, along with Pasadena City College, are partners in an effort to foster dialogue and increase support for higher education.

 “All of us in Southern California have a common obligation to help one another,” Waugh said.

Pictured: U.S. Representative Judy Chu, State Treasurer John Chiang, and State Senator Ed Hernandez. (Credit: Cal State L.A.)

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Cal State L.A. is a university dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good. Founded in 1947, the University serves over 24,000 active students, and 235,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the city we serve. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Cal State L.A. has long been recognized as an engine of economic and social mobility. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex, TV, Film and Media Center and the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. For more information, visit CalStateLA.edu, or like us at Facebook.com/CalStateLA