August 6, 2021
West Hills College: Setting Audacious Goals and Policy to Eliminate Textbook Costs
A case study of West HillS College’s zero textbook cost initiative

Today, Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust circulated their new case study featuring the West Hills Community College District (WHCCD), a public community college district within the California Community College System, to a list of 10,000 college trustees from across the country.

The case study – Setting Audacious Goals and Policy to Eliminate Textbook Costs – focuses on WHCCD’s “Zero Textbook Cost” (ZTC) initiative (referred to commonly in higher education as “open educational resources” or “OER”), and the role its governing board played in driving implementation of this innovative, cost-saving measure for students. In 2016, the West Hills Community College District Board of Trustees adopted an audacious initial policy of developing OER for “at a minimum, 80 percent of all degree-applicable programs in the first year.”

This bold policy containing a lofty, measurable goal helped fuel the school’s “OERevolution” which, at West Hills College Lemoore, where the initiative originated, has resulted in $5 million of savings for students, $3 million in just the last two years.

Most impressively, by the fall of 2021 at West Hills College Lemoore, roughly 60 percent of courses will be delivered via OER or as low textbook cost courses, defined as less than $40.

This case study features testimonials from WHCCD trustees, the former district Chancellor, campus administrators, and faculty members. It is the first in a series of reports intended to help members of college governing boards visualize success when it comes to curtailing the cost of college. The project – Governing Board Best Practices on College Affordability Project – focuses on the affordability strategies of the governing boards of five U.S. higher education institutions or systems. The project seeks to explain the role governing board members play in bringing about affordability measures and their relationship with college executives and their agendas. The full report, featuring all five case studies, will be made available later this summer.