Oral Histories

UCLA High Potential Program

UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
This is a series of interviews with people who were involved with the High Potential Program (HPP) at UCLA between 1968 and 1971. Although the HPP was one of the earliest efforts to broaden admissions criteria and recruit historically underrepresented students, the archival sources that have been preserved are very limited and, by and large, do not represent the views of those involved. This project attempts to capture those voices and includes not only students who were admitted to the HPP but counselors and mentors, as well as non-HPPP students who helped recruit students to the program and worked to make it a success.In 1968, the first cohort of approximately fifty black and forty-eight Chicana/o students was admitted to the High Potential Program. Subsequently the program broadened its recruitment efforts to include Asian American and Native American students as well. Although the primary aim of the HPP was to recruit students from traditionally underrepresented communities in Los Angeles, the larger hope was that these students would graduate and return to their communities as leaders and organizers. As part of its effort to prepare students for those tasks, the program developed culturally relevant curriculum for its students and thus contributed to the long-term development of ethnic studies classes and programs. The High Potential Program was a short-lived experiment: after three years of consistently diminishing funding and low graduation rates, and in the face of much protest from HPP students, it was discontinued. Different versions of the program emerged in the wake of the HPP, and the Academic Advancement Program (APP) is actually in existence to this day on campus. Yet the program’s successors focused more narrowly on traditional academic achievement, and none of them were able to replicate the HPP’s radical ideals and practices.
This series was funded by a generous contribution from Gold Shield, Alumnae of UCLA.