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criticizeme andMark (Yudof) and other leaders for raising
tuition, but they knowwe can do this. So there is the shift to
fund higher education, froma public good that government
needs to pay for, to a private good that individuals will have to
pay for themselves.”
As for the labor unions, Reed thinks they have a limited
perspective. “They’re very insular,” he said. “In California the
labor unions seem to think there’s a golden goose that’s going to
fly over Sacramento and dropmoney. Guess what?There isn’t
anymoney in Sacramento.” Taiz disagrees. “California is still the
eighth largest economy in the world,” she said. “It’s not true that
there’s nomoney here. It’s true that people don’t want to tax the
money that is here.”
Some faculty also have attacked the ill-timed expansion of
the UC systemwith the addition of a new campus inMerced
in 2005, a time when resources already were becoming thinly
stretched. In a letter to Yudof, 23 department chairs at UC San
Diego called for theMerced campus to be closed.The system,
they said, should “drop the pretence that all campuses
are equal, and argue for a selective reallocation of
funds to preserve excellence, not the current disastrous
blunderbuss policy of even, across-the-board cuts.”
New construction, which continues at the
universities, also is a lightning rod for anger in a time of
budget cuts. Faculty have a saying—“The cement never
dries at a UC campus”—and, in fact, construction
cranes and hardhats seemubiquitous. UCBerkeley
alone is in themidst of a $760million building boom,
including $430million on a new office, training and
locker-roomcomplex for athletics, and renovations to
the football stadium.
But buildings don’t come out of operating funds,
said Brostrom, even as he prepares to defend the
football renovations before the academic senate. Many
of the projects predate the economic downturn. And
it’s a good time to build; bids are coming in at 20 to 30
percent below budget. Still, Brostrom said, “I can understand
the frustration of faculty who are not only not getting raises, but
getting furloughs, and still seeing buildings going up.”
That’s not the only spending that has drawn public ire.
So has the handling of donations from foundations that now
account for $1.34 billion a year, or 20 percent, of the Cal State
budget. Legislators passed ameasuremaking the foundations
more transparent and accountable, but Schwarzenegger vetoed
that, too.
Reed said he is not reluctant to impose reforms, even
radical ones. For starters, he would like to see an end to the 12th
grade. “That’s the biggest waste in education,” he said. “Those
resources could be somuchmore effectively used.” Reed also
likes the idea of reducing the number of credits—and, as a
result, the time—it takes to get a degree. “We’ve got to figure out
how to open ourselves to change. You’ve got to push down, and
you’ve got to pull up. We’ve got to provide incentives to have
faculty, students and others come up with ideas for doing things
differently.”
Inviting inevitable ridicule, UCBerkeley hired a private
consulting firm to sniff out administrative efficiencies, for $3
million. “We took some brickbats,” said Brostrom, who also
serves as vice chancellor for administration at UCBerkeley. But
he said there is the potential for saving as much as $75million.
In addition to finding savings, there are efforts being
made to findmore cash. A coalition of students proposed a
one percent tax on residents whomake $1million or more a
year, using the proceeds to freeze university fees for five years.
Predictably in tax-averse California, it failed. Now they have
joined with the faculty unions and some legislative allies to call
for a 9.9 percent tax on oil drilled fromunder California—the
only oil-producing state that does not have such a tax—to raise
$1 billion for higher education.
State officials have been pushing for the feds to step in,
beyond the $26 billion in stimulus money for all purposes
(including $4.35 billion for all levels of education), which
the state is due for last year, this year and next. Yudof, in a
policy paper, called for more federal support for public higher
education.
Reed said Title I, under whichWashington helps
underwrite public elementary and secondary schools that serve
low-income students, ought to be extended to the universities.
“If Title I was such a great idea in equalizing opportunity for
education, why does the federal government quit supporting
the added cost of educating those students at the 12th grade? It
doesn’t make sense to not guarantee a successful outcome,” he
said.
Even if that succeeds, though, the budget crisis has exposed
a lack of coordination among California’s massive higher
education systems. “In general, across policy areas, California
has a weak culture for planning,” Shulock said. “We don’t have
strategic plans, we don’t do any kind of performance budgeting,
we don’t do long-termplanning. It’s just been part of the
California culture, which I think can be attributed to its size and
lack of unity.”
And students continue to be shut out. “The people who
drop out are the newcomers, the immigrants, the first in their
families to go to college,” Shulock said. “They don’t have the
flexibility in work hours or the car to get to another community
college across town.They don’t know that if they sit in the class
long enough the professor will just let them in.”
Reed said that “students who are less prepared and less
knowledgeable about what the requirements are to get into
college,” will be left behind.The 20,000-plus students who
were once accepted, even though they fell short of admissions
standards, will not be anymore.
“When people start to be denied—and denied access for
their children—they’re going to get mad as hell,” Reed said.
“That’s a constituency that’s going to wake up.”
Back at the road race, UC SanDiego ChancellorMarye
Anne Fox said the unfortunate prospect is that America’s public
universities “will slip intomediocrity. Everywhere around the
world, when people want the very best in higher education,
they come to the United States. Anything that impugns that is
to the detriment of everybody, not just in the United States, but
around the world.”
Then shemounted the podiumand blew an air horn to
start the race.
u
JonMarcus is a writer based in Boston who covers higher
education in the U.S. for the (UK)
Times Higher Education
magazine.
In spite of
increased
demand,
California’s
universities and
colleges are
intentionally
shrinking their
enrollments.