California Today: California Today: Courting First-Generation Students at U.C.

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Incoming freshmen took a tour of the U.C.L.A. campus. The university system is trying to offer support to first-generation students. Credit Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

Good morning.

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Today’s introduction comes from Jennifer Medina, a national correspondent based in Los Angeles.

Janet Napolitano, the University of California president, faced a room of seniors at West Adams Preparatory High School in Los Angeles and tried to sell them on a simple idea: they could make it to one of the system’s prestigious campuses.

“You can have a successful college experience at any one of our campuses,” Ms. Napolitano said. “We want you to come.”

This fall, the campus is starting an intensive effort to offer financial and academic counseling to students who represent the first generation in their families to attend college. The program will connect them to faculty members who were also first-generation students — there are roughly 900 such faculty members across the system’s 10 campuses.

There is a tremendous need for outreach to first-generation college students, who are much less likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree than students whose parents attended college, said Julie Ajinkya, the vice president of applied research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. According to a study by the group, about 18 percent of first-generation college students earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to 44 percent of other students.

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“We’re at last seeing institutions really think about not just college admission but college completion,” Ms. Ajinkya said.

Roughly 42 percent of undergraduates throughout the University of California are first-generation students. The percentages vary widely among the campuses — more than 70 percent at U.C. Merced compared to about 28 percent at Berkeley.

According to an internal study, University of California campuses have a significantly higher proportion of first-generation students than other selective public universities and more than the national average of four-year colleges.

There are signs that such students can struggle — about 57 percent of students who began in a U.C. school in 2012 graduated in four years, compared to about 69 percent of students overall.

The system has come under criticism in the past for not doing enough to attract low-income students and students of color. And as the country re-examines the use of affirmative action in higher education, the University of California is one example of what happens when race is no longer considered a factor in admissions — a persistent gap remains between the number of black and Latino students graduating from high school and those who are going on to the U.C. system.

“We have to tell them they are welcome and they can do well,” Ms. Napolitano said after the event in Los Angeles. “That is what the system is about.”

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California Online

(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)

• A court ruling appeared to make it easier to raise taxes through ballot initiatives. It could have major consequences for the use of public money in school, transit and other projects. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

• A developer and two former public officials were found not guilty in a marathon corruption trial that has captivated the political establishment in San Bernardino County. [The Sun]

• Of the 35 highest-paid University of California employees in 2016, some were doctors, others coaches — and all men. [Sacramento Bee]

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Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley’s mayor, at his office on Monday. Credit Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

• After the weekend melees in Berkeley, the city’s mayor urged U.C. Berkeley to block plans for a “free speech” event with the right wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos. [San Francisco Chronicle]

• Years ago, Los Angeles banned “ultracompact” guns because of fears they could be easily hidden by criminals. Now it is poised to eliminate the rule in the face of possible litigation. [Los Angeles Times]

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Dr. Mark Berman, of the Cell Surgical Network, in 2014 at his practice in Beverly Hills. Dr. Berman is a founder of the California Stem Cell Treatment Centers, where patients received an unapproved stem cell treatment made with the help of a smallpox vaccine and other ingredients. Credit Raquel Maria Dillon/Associated Press

• Regulators are cracking down on “unscrupulous” stem cell treatments. A California clinic was accused of injecting cancer patients with a product including smallpox vaccine. [The New York Times]

• Is it time to decriminalize hallucinogenic mushrooms? A proposed California ballot measure would let adults use of the drug. [Los Angeles Times]

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s pick for C.E.O., is on the threshold of becoming one of the world’s most prominent entrepreneurs. His virtues and faults are little-known. [The New York Times]

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Rachel Zabar at home with her vintage collection in Los Angeles. Credit Amy Dickerson for The New York Times

• Meet Rachel Zabar, the latest entrant into the high-stakes vintage couture business in Los Angeles. [The New York Times]

• Time-lapse video: See the progress made so far in repairing the broken spillway at Lake Oroville. [The Mercury News]

And Finally …

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A man waved down a rescue crew in Houston Monday. Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Californians have been in southeast Texas helping with relief efforts in the wake of catastrophic flooding there.

Among those who have been made the trip:

Eight urban search-and-rescue teams staffed by fire departments across California

• Several dozen volunteers from California chapters of the American Red Cross

• A 22-person rescue team from the California National Guard, along with two airplanes and two helicopters

• A medical team based in San Diego that is part of a federal disaster relief system

Mark Ghilarducci, director of the state’s Office of Emergency Services, noted that California, by virtue of sheer size, has resources beyond those of many others states.

Even as hundreds of members of California fire departments are lent for rescue operations in Texas, many more are battling ongoing wildfires in California and Oregon.

“We’re doing everything we can to pitch in,” Mr. Ghilarducci said.

The search-and-rescue teams, including dog handlers, medical professionals and other personnel, operate as fully contained units. To get to the disaster area, they drove caravans of trucks bearing all of their own supplies — including boats.

Once in Texas, they immediately got to work. On Sunday, one crew alone reported more than 200 rescues.

If you are looking for ways to help, here is a list of organizations on the ground.

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.

The California Today columnist, Mike McPhate, is a third-generation Californian — born outside Sacramento and raised in San Juan Capistrano. He lives in Los Osos.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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Source: New York Times

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