Maritza Velazquez, Staff Writer
Created: 12/20/2009 09:25:23 PM PST

POMONA – For the past year, students, faculty and staff at California’s public universities have protested massive budget cuts, but most of their demands have fallen upon deaf ears.

But at Cal Poly Pomona, where a 21 percent budget reduction is threatening dozens of programs and departments, the school president is meeting with legislators to drum up support for higher education.

Cal Poly Pomona President J. Michael Ortiz spent time this month with local legislators to try to persuade them to become “champions” for higher education. He also invited the campus community to join him.

“No one is really coming out in strong support of higher education,” Ortiz said. “We would like legislators from this region to say higher education has already suffered enough, and we cannot continue to cut higher education and expect the state to come out of this economic downturn.”

Since Dec. 10, Ortiz has met with Assembly members Norma Torres, D-Ontario; Anthony Adams, R-Claremont; Bill Emmerson, R-Rancho Cucamonga; and Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina.

“They’re trying to get students and others to understand the economics of the state and what they’re facing, but they’re also understanding of the importance of higher education,” Ortiz said.

Even though recent student protests regarding the cuts were, at least in part, aimed at him, Ortiz generally agreed with demonstrators.

“I thought they were right,” Ortiz said of students, staff and faculty. “Sitting back and being complacent is not what needs to take place. We need to make our voices heard.”

Torres said there are a couple possible solutions to the budget crisis, including making federal grants more accessible to students and urging the Obama administration to act on behalf of education.

“I think that Ortiz is feeling under the gun, and I think we are all feeling responsible for these students,” said Torres, who met with Ortiz on Dec. 10.

To read entire story click here.