Higher Education for All

Racial Inequality, Cold War Liberalism, and the California Master Plan

By Andrew Stone Higgins

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7291-5
    Published: May 2023
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7290-8
    Published: May 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7292-2
    Published: March 2023
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6236-5
    Published: March 2023

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The 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education remains to this day the largest and most ambitious attempt to provide free, universal college education in the United States. Yet the Master Plan, the product of committed Cold War liberals, unfortunately served to reinforce the very class-based exclusions and de facto racism that plagued K–12 education in the nation's largest and most diverse state. In doing so, it inspired a wave of student and faculty organizing that not only forced administrators and politicians to live up to the original promise of the Master Plan—quality higher education for all—but changed the face of California itself.

Higher Education for All is the first and only comprehensive account of the California Master Plan. Through deep archival work and sharp attention to a fascinating cast of historical characters, Andrew Stone Higgins has excavated the forgotten history of the Master Plan: from its origins in the 1957 Sputnik Crisis, through Governor Ronald Reagan's financial starvation and his failed quest to introduce tuition, to the student struggle to institute affirmative action in university admissions.

About the Author

Andrew Stone Higgins is a historian and teacher in Boston.
For more information about Andrew Stone Higgins, visit the Author Page.


"This insightful, persuasive book reveals how a sprawling, multiracial network of student activists shaped the influential California Master Plan for Higher Education by challenging the elitism and racism inherent in Clark Kerr’s celebrated schema. The history of student protest at Berkeley is well known, but Andrew Higgins shows a much larger movement to diversify and democratize colleges and universities across the state, with major implications for national politics and education policy."—Nelson Lichtenstein, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Andrew Higgins demonstrates persuasively how the segregation and inequality marking California’s public college and university system today evolved from the very policy that promised educational opportunity for every high school graduate in the state: the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education. This is an incisive account of the contradictions of the modern public university and the ways that generations of students of color have challenged their exclusion. Required reading to understand the complex politics of race and higher education."—Daniel Martinez HoSang, Yale University

"Andrew Higgins's generative and thorough treatment examines the Master Plan from multiple angles, taking the reader through this messy and compelling story with care and clarity. Higgins offers a narrative rife with compelling characters, including the administrators who crafted the plan, the politicians who leveraged it for votes, and the students and faculty who took to the streets to protest it."—Luis Alvarez, University of California–San Diego