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.