Innovation Awards Presented to Winning Institutions

On Monday, April 27, 2015, the Committee on Awards for Innovation in Higher Education had its final meeting where the members unanimously approved the expenditure plans for the 14 winning colleges, which includes one UC, seven CSUs, and six community colleges (photos below). By way of keeping the process transparent, the Department of Finance provided copies of each institution’s spending plans, which ranged from scaling up programs to renovating spaces to increasing endowment and to providing technical assistance for dissemination to other schools.

After the approval of plans, the conversation shifted toward developing a strategy to encourage dissemination and replication of innovations within and across the systems. The committee organized a panel of four individuals, Bridget Burns of the University Innovation Alliance, Christopher Cabaldon, the principal of Capitol Impact, LLC, Paul Steenhausen of the Success Center for California Community Colleges, and Andrea Venezia of EdInsights, all of whom are interested in the innovations, their implementation and the conditions necessary to support innovation on campuses.

The panel discussed a variety of questions, including what policy levers should be used to further incentivize innovation while still keeping a focusing on fostering local, grassroots innovation on campuses. Andrea Venezia, citing the success of the Oregon Regional Achievement Collaboratives, reinforced the importance of collaboration across systems to create communities of practice and learning which Julia Lopez, president of the College Futures Foundation, agreed to help establish. Bridget Burns also pointed out that the conversation around innovation should not be limited to the 14 schools that won but to all applicants and even those who didn’t submit an application. Ms. Burns noted that innovation inherently includes risk and so, while some innovations may not produce the desired results, they are still necessary and will inform schools going forward. The theme of collaboration rather than competition featured prominently during the panel discussions.

Another major thread throughout the panel discussion was how innovation ought to be defined. Christopher Cabaldon led that conversation, seeking to explain that tweaks, changes, and policies that exist already but are effective can be just as innovative as major breakthrough pieces of technology or policy changes.

As the meeting wrapped up, Committee member Dean Florez wondered if the award proposed in the budget for next year, $25 million that only the CSUs are eligible for, ought to be expanded in scope and size to include an additional $25 million for the community colleges.

After the meeting, California Competes, with support from the Lumina Foundation, sponsored a reception where the winners were given their awards.

CSU Monterey Bay

CSU San Bernadino

Long Beach City College

Santa Ana College

Shasta College

CSU Dominguez Hills

CSU Monterey Bay

San Francisco State

Community College of San Francisco

Humboldt State

West Hills College, Lemoore

Butte College