Lieberman picked for governor’s roundtable

Layla Abbas
Assistant Editor

University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman said she looks forward to participating in California Gov. Jerry Brown’s Education Leaders Roundtable to represent the private University sector via the Governor’s invitation.

The Roundtable brings together the state’s college and university leaders to discuss important topics in all four sectors of higher education: private nonprofit universities, California State Universities, University of California and community colleges.

The Roundtable idea began in the 1960s when the California Master Plan for Higher Education was created by UC regents and the State Board of Education under Gov. Pat Brown’s administration.

“The California Master Plan said institutions need to have these four legs of the stool to meet the number of students who have to be educated and graduated to meet the future needs of California,” Lieberman said.

The Roundtable was created in 2007 to assess new variables in the education system and fuel a discussion incorporating all four sectors.

The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, a representative voice of the private nonprofit sector of California, is comprised of nearly 80 independent institutions. As the chair of the AICCU Executive Committee, Lieberman sets and leads the overall direction of the organization which bring together key figures in the private nonprofit sector to discuss public policy issues. Her roles paved the way for a seat at the Roundtable from Jerry Brown. President of the AICCU, Kristen Soares, will join Lieberman at the Roundtable.

“My role with Soares is to work collaboratively with the four sectors,” Lieberman said. “We need to help the other sectors realize the private nonprofit institutions in California play a significant role in this goal of educating all students.”

The prioritized topic is advocacy to protect student’s financial aid, otherwise known as Cal Grants.

“It is so important to protect the Cal Grant Program because it was created to give low income and deserving California students access to any college of their choice,” Soares said. “Student financial aid is a key piece that has been debated to be reduced.”

In the year we are living, private institutions are not seen as the most affordable option for all students, Elmeera Nosrati said, junior business administration major and president of ASULV. “My education would not be possible without the Cal Grant,” Nosrati said.

Soares said because of the active legislature in California, the association must understand the big issues for the private nonprofit sector and how to respond.

“If a proposal comes up that affects higher education, we are at the table discussing the impact of those proposals in relation to our sector,” Soares said. “Some proposals are positive and some are negative, but we want to make sure we are proactive about proposals in the perspective of the independent sector.”

The Public Policy Institute of California says the state will fall short of about 1.1 million college graduates to meet the economic demand by 2030.

“The shortfall is something all four sectors have to work on together,” Lieberman said. “We cannot just provide bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but we have to be cognizant of areas that need to be filled across these four sectors to meet future demands.”

Provost Jonathan Reed said for the economy to remain competitive, a workforce with the appropriate skills is critical.

“It will be important for La Verne to play its part in making sure we attract students, have affordable tuition and high quality degree programs that lead to … career success,” Reed said.

The Roundtable met Monday in San Francisco and will continue to discuss ways the four sectors can effectively work together.

Lieberman said she is honored to join the visionary conversation and wants to share key aspects of the University that makes it a productive institution.

Soares said Lieberman understands the critical importance of both private independent institutions and public universities.

“She is going to bring leadership, perspective and her energy to the Roundtable,” Soares said. “We need thoughtful leaders who are willing to cross institutional boundaries to forge real working relationships. I am waiting for her to bring it and she will.”

Layla Abbas can be reached at

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