As many of you know, in February I am retiring as the Center’s executive director. It’s been a pleasure to have worked with the staff and partners of the Center over the past six years. The Center is a unique and valuable organization, and through it, I have had the opportunity to work with a broad range of individuals on numerous important and exciting projects.
Because many individuals contribute to the Center’s efforts, I can’t take primary credit for its achievements. But I do want to highlight three major developments that I have had the opportunity to be involved with over the past 6 years:
Increase in support for Capital Fellows. After a full decade without any cost of living increase, the Fellows’ stipends were increased by over a third during the past several years. Moreover, the Governor has proposed a new cost of living increase for 2018-19. In addition to this, the Timothy Hodson Capital Fellows Assistance Fund has grown substantially with generous donations from individuals and institutions, allowing the Center to annually award grants to about 10 Fellows with financial need. The Center also now provides a $250 relocation grant to each Fellow when they start their fellowships. Combined, the increased stipends and grants help to ensure that the Capital Fellows programs remain accessible to all, irrespective of their financial situation.
Creation of Education Policy Fellowship Program. Two years ago the Center collaborated with Sacramento State’s Education Insights center to launch a new Fellows program. The California Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) is a professional development initiative that aims to strengthen education policymaking in California. Each year we select a cohort of 20 education professionals to come together for three weekend seminars and other activities designed to break down the barriers between K-12 and higher education policy, and between Sacramento policymakers and education practitioners. Funded with philanthropic grants, EPFP has been extremely popular and successful. The Governor’s 2018-19 budget proposal includes $100,000 to continue this program.
Establishment of Visiting Scholar Symposium Series. Six years ago the Center established a Visiting Scholar position, whereby a faculty member from outside of Sacramento State becomes connected with the Center for the academic year to conduct research on a topic of relevance to the Center’s mission. Prior visiting scholars have conducted research on such topics as the initiative process, local government bankruptcy, and health policy. At the culmination of their appointment, our Visiting Scholars present their research at a public symposium in downtown Sacramento. The half-day symposia are made financially possible from an endowment provided to the Center by former Sacramento State President Donald Gerth and his wife Bev Gerth. Through these symposia, the Center further advances its mission of bridging academia and government in the service of California’s democracy.
All three of these important programs reflect the Center’s value to California, but they also result from the critical involvement of other organizations and individuals. That’s what I’ve enjoyed most about my time at the Center: the opportunity to collaborate with committed individuals on projects that promote the ideal of California. I’m thankful for those opportunities, and I hope you will continue to support the Center in its valuable work.
As for me, I will soon be moving down to the small ranch my wife and I have in Palos Verdes, near Los Angeles. We currently have six horses on the property, which will no doubt keep me busy. Our plan is to eventually move back north, to a larger property with still more horses. I’m not sure about the timeline or exact locations, but I will remain connected to California’s education institutions in some way. And I hope to see all of you at the Center’s annual Envisioning California conference in October!