UC President Robert C. Dynes visited Saddleback High School in Santa Ana June 8, along with representatives of UC Irvine’s Center for Educational Partnerships, to hear from students, parents and teachers about the benefits of academic preparation programs.

“UC Student Academic Preparation and Education Programs are critical to providing the pathways to college,” Dynes said. “We are fighting aggressively to seek continuation of state funding for them.” Funding for such programs has been cut from the 2007-08 state budget.

UCI was the first UC campus in 1996 to set up a Center for Educational Partnerships in response the regents’ call for strategies that would recruit and empower disadvantaged students. Similar outreach programs had been a long-established tradition at UCI, which in 1983 was a founder of the Santa Ana Partnership designed to improve academic achievement and college access among low-income and first-generation college students. Successes can be measured at Saddleback High School in Santa Ana. The school serves about 2,500 students, 67 percent of whom participate in free or reduced-price meal programs. Compared to schools with similar demographics, it has one of the highest numbers of graduates accepted to UC; 16 have been accepted at UCLA for fall 2007 and 31 gained entrance to UCI.

“CFEP has engaged every academic and administrative unit on the UCI campus to enhance curriculum and learning, teaching and professional development, and create innovative student programs,” said Juan Francisco Lara, assistant vice chancellor of enrollment services. “The elimination of funding impacts families, students, schools and UCI faculty alike.”

Dynes’ visit is part of his effort to exchange ideas about the future of the UC system. He also spoke to CEOs at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach.

“The value of face-to-face meetings with leaders of the community and people who are associated with the University of California is immeasurable,” Dynes said. “I can learn a lot about what we do as a university and how we can positively affect the lives of people in this state.”