Category Archives: Community Outreach and Engagement

The Morrill Act is Part of our DNA by Dean Cathy Sandeen

Today is the anniversary of the passage of a key piece of higher education legislation in the U.S.  To commemorate this, I would like to pass along excerpts from a message I received from Gene D. Block, Chancellor of UCLA and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities:

“One hundred fifty years ago today, on July 2, 1862, in the cruel crucible of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law. Often referred to as the Land-Grant College Act, the law was a major milestone in expanding and democratizing American public higher education. . . .

Prior to 1862, the benefits of a college education were reserved for a very small percentage of the population. The Morrill Act expanded access to higher education to all segments of society, not just the sons of the privileged elite. Throughout the 20th century, as land-grant colleges and other public universities spread throughout the country, college enrollment among 18-to-22-year-olds rose steadily, and so too did our level of prosperity, both in California and across the nation. . . .

One of my favorite quotes about education comes from a 1786 letter penned by Thomas Jefferson. He wrote, “Let us in education dream of an aristocracy of achievement rising out of a democracy of opportunity.”

Those words—a democracy of opportunity—so eloquently describe the dream of public higher education. Let us draw inspiration from the vision and courage of the leaders who enacted the Morrill Act, and let us uphold its bold promise.”

An important message for us all to think about and remember.

Of course, post-secondary education is now increasingly accessible to nontraditional students and in nontraditional formats. As part of our DNA in U.S. postsecondary education, the groundbreaking Morrill Act lives on and continues to have an impact.



Face Reality and Take Charge of Your Next Step by Dean Cathy Sandeen

I participated in two interesting discussions last week that underscored something I have been thinking about lately.

First, at the UCLA Extension Dean’s Advisory Board meeting, we heard a presentation by Board member Ed Leamer a faculty member at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast.

Professor Leamer  explained that in previous economic downturns, unemployment increased as industries reduced their workforce. But once conditions improved, displaced workers eventually were rehired into their previous industries.

The current economic downturn is quite a bit different.  Large numbers of jobs in construction and manufacturing have disappeared and they will not be coming back. Other industries have completely changed as well. Think about print journalism, printing in general, advertising, and the music industry.

My second meeting last week was part of UCLA Day with Local Government,” an advocacy day spent meeting with various elected officials and staff at Los Angeles City Hall. I met with a group of executive directors and board members from the local unemployment services/workforce system.

One senior human resources director from a large local firm mentioned he has encountered a number of people in his professional and personal life who have lost jobs and who have not faced the reality that those exact jobs will not reemerge. Almost every industry now requires higher level skills and a greater use of technology. Many unemployed individuals are sitting back and waiting for the world to adapt to them. They are not doing anything to adapt themselves for reemployment in today’s environment.

It is extremely difficult and unsettling for many people to think about going back to school when one has been out of school for 30 years or more.  This dynamic is even more apparent for those who entered the workforce directly from high school.

This brings me back to the title of this post. Facing reality and next steps.

There are many options for someone to build upon past experience and to upgrade knowledge and skills quickly. For many, I would recommend a serious look at rigorous professional certificate programs. We have seen individuals transition

  • from banking to logistics
  • from mortgage broker to starting a waste recycling company
  • from information technology professionals to the healthcare field
  • from sales and marketing people to nonprofit organizations

The key is to get help and advice

  • What transferrable skills do you have?
  • What industries project employment growth?
  • What do you care about?

Then, find a program that can help you connect all the dots and get you from A to B. You can find employment that equals or exceeds your previous position.

Naturally, UCLA Extension offers many options. The most important thing is to face reality and take that important next step.


Fostering Your Own Creativity by Cathy Sandeen

Creativity (noun): the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination. (

Previously I wrote about the Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region.  Read that post here.

I am still impressed that one in six jobs in the region are in creative industries (over 1 million jobs) resulting in $121 billion in sales/receipts in Los Angeles county. Industry sectors encompass entertainment, product and industrial design, fine and performing arts, toys, fashion, digital media, communication arts and others.

Further, the report predicts many creative industry sectors will see employment growth over the next three years, especially digital media (10% growth), industrial design and art galleries (7-8% growth), architecture, interior design and fine and performing arts (5-6% growth).  A more recent LAEDC report focuses on the entertainment and media industries in Los Angeles.

Fostering evereyone’s creativity . . . I also think there is a role for expanding the role of creativity and innovation in all types of work, not only the obviously “creative industries.” We often hear that our ability to be creative and innovative is our country’s key competitive advantage. If so, how can we all grow that advantage?

This quarter’s catalog cover for UCLA Extension provides some major inspiration for us. Designed by Deborah Sussman, award-winning environmental graphic designer and principal in Sussman/Prejza & Co of Culver City, her cover design captures the essence of spring and actually was inspired by a poetry class Deborah recently completed at UCLA Extension. (Yes, one of her poems is embedded in her design.)


The lesson here for all of us . . . If an established creative person seeks out a way to get new creative juices flowing, the rest of us can and should, too.  What are you doing to increase your ability to think outside the box and tackle new problems?

 Some possibilities here:

 Programs in the arts

We are offering a special new course that  may be of interest to you: Managing a Creative Business Strategic Panel

To see all courses available now and for Spring quarter through UCLA Extension


Predictions Correct: It’s the Economy…..Again, Plus Education by Cathy Sandeen

Following-up on my post from yesterday, President Obama’s State of the Union Address last night did conform to American’s priorities, as reflected in Pew survey cited on January 27.

 The following provides an interesting graphic depiction or word cloud of main components of Obama’s speech:

NPR - wordle

From NPR website Jan 28 Wordle

I’ve also included a few notable excerpts, especially around my interests in higher education and economic and workforce development issues.

Full transcript of speech here

Video here



“One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt.  Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression.  So we acted -– immediately and aggressively.  And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.”


“But the devastation remains.  One in 10 Americans still cannot find work.  Many businesses have shuttered.  Home values have declined.  Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard.  And for those who’d already known poverty, life has become that much harder.”

“Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.  Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers.  Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders.  And we’re on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.”

“But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response.  That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that’s why I’m calling for a new jobs bill tonight. “


“Next, we need to encourage American innovation.  Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history -– (applause) — an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched.  And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy.  You can see the results of last year’s investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.”

Higher education

“To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans.  Instead, let’s take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants.  And let’s tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years –- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.”


“In the end, it’s our ideals, our values that built America  — values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still.  Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers.  Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country.  They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit.  These aren’t Republican values or Democratic values that they’re living by; business values or labor values.  They’re American values.”

Overall, I thought it was a realistic, pragmatic, but positive message. Your thoughts?


Our Top Priorities by Cathy Sandeen

I recently came across an interesting public opinion survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press.  It outlines the public’s priorities for major social and economic issues of the day. No surprise here. The economy and jobs top the list.

Top Priorities 2010

Source:  Pew Research Center for People and the Press

No surprise here either. The Los Angeles Times, among others predict the major topic of President Obama’s State of the Union Address scheduled for tonight will the economy and jobs.

 Where do you weigh in?

It will be interesting to watch the President’s speech tonight and see how much it correlates with this current survey. I’m interested in your thoughts.


MLK message as relevant as ever by Cathy Sandeen

I could not allow today to go by without recognizing the reason for the holiday and the many contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. I am in Washington, DC today and in preparation for my meetings tomorrow, I reviewed some basic information about the state of higher education in the US. Though we have the finest higher education system in the world, we still fall short in providing access to a college education–and the social mobility it provides–to all segments of our population. Access and opportunity. I ask us all to take a moment to reflect on this goal and on Dr. King’s legacy.

Many individuals, much more eloquent than I, have made comments or have given speeches today. In this posting, I decided to allow Dr. King to speak for himself. I have provided a few brief quotations that I’m sure you will agree are as relevant today as when Dr. King was alive. Let us all remember the things that matter.

“All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

 “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

How this recession is different by Cathy Sandeen

You did everything right. You worked hard, went to school, and earned your degrees and professional certifications. You interned, networked, interviewed, and got a great job. You built a career in a secure field, earning a good salary along the way. Then the unforeseen happened. The “Great Recession” hit and you found yourself unemployed for the first time. What do you do?

Unfortunately, this scenario is fact, not fiction, and it has played out again and again for well over a year. This recession is unlike most others. In the past, high salaried, “white collar” professionals have been spared massive workforce reductions. Not this time. Whole swaths of professional positions no longer exist.

This graphic from The Big Picture blog, helps tell the story.

Here’s another visual representation of job shifts along with personal stories from the Wall Street Journal.

This reduction in the professional sector affects us all. At risk of oversimplifying the economic impact, high salaried individuals tend to make big ticket purchases that fuel the important consumer spending side of the economic equation.

Fortunately, there may be a silver lining to this cloud. Large amounts of stimulus funding (through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) are now available to help unemployed Americans retool and retrain. I am happy to say, UCLA Extension is ready to play a big role.

Thirty-three of our professional certificate programs in high demand fields are now approved for such funding. Eligible individuals may receive funding for the entire cost of their certificate program, including books and materials. The Los Angeles Times featured this program in a recent article.

We are one of the few education providers with extensive expertise in serving the professional segment of our workforce. UCLA Extension provides accessible, flexible, rigorous, and employer-recognized programs that help individuals move into new fields and jobs quickly.

 More information here.