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wondering, why are we taking the brunt of this?”
The state has already slipped dramatically in the proportion
of its population with a bachelor’s degree, falling fromfirst
among the 15 largest states in 1981 to 14th. It is now 49th in
the share of its population over the age of 24 that has graduated
fromeven high school, and 46th in the proportion of 19-
year-olds enrolled in college. Even in better times, only about
106,000 of those nearly threemillion community college
students weremanaging to successfully transfer to a UC or Cal
State school, or even to private or out-of-state universities.
More than 300 University of California faculty have warned
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger—himself the product of a
California community college—that the latest cuts will imperil
not only the universities’ prestige, but also the state’s economy.
Public universities produce 75 percent of all the bachelor’s
degrees in California. And if current trends continue, according
to the Public Policy Institute of California, the increasingly
knowledge-based economy will face a shortfall of amillion
educated workers by 2025. “I just don’t think that people
understand how that affects everybody—the tax base, the crime
rate, everything,” said Shulock.
And there is little sign that things will turn around.
Another $7 billion state budget shortfall is projected for next
year. Other areas, including primary education, have been
promised first dibs on themoney when revenues pick up again.
In anOctober memo to campus business administrators, Cal
State’s chief financial officer wrote ominously that “tinkering
with reductions at themargins will be insufficient. It will be
necessary to change radically business processes and service
delivery systems so that personnel costs and other expenditures
can be reduced significantly on an ongoing basis.” Yet rather
than banding together to defend the universities, higher
education interests are feuding among themselves.
United Professional and Technical Employees, which
represents 10,000 healthcare, research and technical staff
at UC, took out ads criticizing bonuses and perks paid
to administrators under President Mark Yudof. “Whose
university,” the ads read—“yours or Yudof ’s?”The system
responded that some administrators, mainly at medical centers,
got more pay for taking onmanagement responsibilities, but
that most have accepted pay cuts. So has Yudof, though he still
makes $540,000 and has a home provided for him inOakland
that costs the university system$10,000 amonth.
In themiddle of the budget crisis, the University of
California paid $125,000 to an administrator tomove 70miles
fromSanta Cruz toOakland, then hired new chancellors at
UCDavis andUC San Francisco at salaries of $400,000 and
$450,000, respectively, about ten percent more than their
predecessors had earned, along with free housing and, for the
UC San Francisco chief, a $100,000 relocation allowance.This
so angered some legislators that they proposed an amendment
to the state constitution that would put the systemunder their
direct authority. Although it editorialized against the bill, the
Los Angeles Times
blasted the universities for what it called their
“too-cool-for-accountability” attitude.
The attacks have not subsided. Yudof is particularly
unpopular, especially after telling the
NewYork Times
that “the
shine is off” public higher education.The chairs representing
all tenUniversity of California academic senates responded
with a letter declaring themselves
“emphatically not ready to concede
the defeat of California’s exceptional
experiment.…If the legislators
and the public have come to see
investment in an educated citizenry
as anything less than the central pillar
of social and economic growth, then
we educators must redouble our
efforts tomake the case.”
Students are not exactly thrilled
with Yudof either. In a speech before
the regents, he defended huge fee
hikes by saying that, if more courses
had to be canceled because of a lack
of money, it would take students
longer to graduate. “So raising tuition
may, in fact, ultimately save students
money.” On the day of the UC San
Diego 5K, the student newspaper
there and at the other University of California campuses
published an open letter fromYudof (the UC SanDiego editors
gave it the headline, “A FewDesperateWords fromYour
President”), ending with the line: “Anybody game for amarch
on Sacramento?” Upstairs in the student government office,
Gupta is frustrated by what he calls a lack of advocacy from the
president’s office. “We’d like to seemore from the top down, but
we aren’t seeing anything, so we’re working from the bottom
up,” he said.
Administrators concede that they could do a better job of
forming alliances. “The real dramatic decline in the budget
happened very late in the budget year,” said Nathan Brostrom,
interim executive vice president for the University of California
system. “That precipitated a lot of things that are
really jarring and unsettling. A lot of what we’ve
seen this fall will be ultimately constructive, but
I think it was people reacting to these dramatic
events.”
Cal State’s Reed has also been a target. In
a vote taken by that system’s faculty union, 79
percent expressed no confidence in him, and
signs reading “Remove Reed” popped up in
a protest at Cal State Fullerton.The central
administration functions of Cal State cost
$75.1million a year, more than the budgets of
three of its campuses and almost as much as
a fourth. “Does the chancellor need a whole
bloody building to do what he does?” asked
Taiz, the faculty union head. “Do we need all of
these associate vice presidents? I don’t begrudge
people a decent wage, but I think they get a little
carried away with themselves.These are public institutions. At
the very least, if you’remaking that muchmoney, with the free
house and the free car, you should go out and find us a way to
get moremoney.”
Reed said the blame game starts in Sacramento, where
the politicians who cut state financial support are fully aware
that the universities can, and likely will, pass the burden on to
students. “Legislators know that,” he said. “They’re going to
The share of the
state budget that
goes to higher
education has
been cut nearly
in half since the
1980s, while the
proportion spent on
prisons has tripled.
Nathan Brostrom, interim executive vice
president for the University of California
system, says that the dramatic decline in
the budget has been “really jarring and
unsettling.”
Rod Searcey for CrossTalk