Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cont: Chancellors to Regents - Crisis on the Campuses

My paraphrase. The Chancellors also vowed to do everything they could to protect their campuses. But it was terrible, sad testimony. Regent Blum called these campus reports “devastating.” It seemed from the remarks of some Regents that it was mostly news to them.

The chancellors spoke in 2 groups. First came the 5 with medical centers, and then the 5 without. Their remarks show that the medical centers are a huge financial problem that we need to understand much more clearly. How are they really affecting the UC campuses – both the ones they are attached to and the rest?

I have one other preliminary comment: the proverbial “knowledge economy” is not a set of departments and programs and extramural research. It is a social process that creates innovation out of insubstantial and continuous interactions among all sorts of people on campus and off. This innovation process is undermined by the undermining of CSU and UC, since it depends on network effects, social fabrics, unique regional infrastructures, local concentrations, and perhaps most importantly informal knowledge or “know-how.” Much of that comes from the classroom. A lot of it comes from small seminars, conversations in the hall before class stars, office hour conversations were one thing leads to another, academic counseling one-on-one, running into people from your discussion section in the coffee line, the outside speaker you accidently went to that opened the door to a new field, and the “here, try it this way” transactions at 11:40 pm in the computer lab. This unending and unbounded sociality – THIS is the university.
This “commons” –this “learning community,” this everyday mutual presence, this thinking sociability is what is most important to knowledge, and most vulnerable to cuts. It is exactly what is being destroyed. Chancellor White of Riverside and Chancellor Drake of Irvine gave some of the best testimony on this fabric and its destruction that I have heard.

Here are rush steno-notes. Thanks to Roddey Reid at UCSD for useful additions.

San Francisco (Chancellor Michael Bishop): There was a discussion of the financial precariousness of the UCSF Medical Center that is important but that I omit – the point was that these are not “cash cows.” On campus, the faculty is 14% down, there have been 25% admin cuts, closed programs, and others delayed by years, the downgrading grad financial aid. Perhaps most importantly, 9 of 11 major grad program areas have cut enrollments from 11-52%. This is a major harbinger of declining training, research output, hence quality, ranking, and funding. This is a potential disaster for the university and the state. We are the principle engine of the knowledge economy and we are facing a significant decline in quality. Our ability to fulfill our responsibility of educating a group that looks like the state is slipping from our grasp.
Davis (Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef): 60 TAs gone, 400 work-study jobs gone, 1 VC position gone ,our med center’s bill for “charity care” (we get nothing back) went from $95 M to $163 M in a couple of years, bad debt boom too so we never collect. We serve Sacramento County’s indigent medical care facility. The county paid only $34 M of their $90 M before they too ran out of money. medical centers are "scared to death about what is to come. Their retirement bill will increase $30-40 M when employer contributions to the pension restart. On the campus, 200 faculty positions are left unfilled. We can't do the Engineering building for the foreseeable future. Same with other projects. "it's trouble across the board."

San Diego (Chancellor Marye Anne Fox): academic hiring freeze, 200 staff layoffs. 800 unfilled staff positions freeze is good in a way because the asst profs weren't coming anyway – we’ve had a very dramatic drop in success of recruitment. Our class size is going to 40 average Note the contrast with peer student: faculty ratios: Harvard 8:1, Cal Tech 3:1. Money for recruiting is now going into retention. We are having a brain drain.

We’ve gone from 95% to 70% success in retention in 1 year. Chancellor Fox discusses 5 very senior departures (CEO of UCSD Med Center to Missouri. . . after he couldn't hire a CFO by matching the salary the candidate already had at Washington State). Loss to U Texas of a major lab scientist who got a $2 M start-up. Loss of an African-American faculty member, longstanding big contributor and leader on diversity issues, in cancer research, to U Michigan. A biology prof went to to Columbia U where he will be able to use the income from 20 M endowment from research All 5 have left just since the first of July. as we "restructure," our competition is going to be very severe, and there will be a loss to the state of California I hope you insure we have flexibility in handling those cuts.

Los Angeles (Chancellor Gene Block): WE have seen $131 M cut, $21 M unfunded increases, and are facing still a nearly 100 M gap even after salary cuts etc. We have imposed a 50% research fund reduction, increased taxes on housing and parking, 20% cut in Chancellor’s off campus programs including scholarships, etc. We are a huge institution and we are making only 15 hires. We have seen a 20% increase in class size in 3 years. Class size will be above 60 in fall. We will have 165 fewer courses, or 10% fewer. We will have fewer TAs, much less interaction between faculty and students, we will need to reduce our undergraduate enrollment to maintain graduation rates and quality. All this will have a negative impact on diversity. Faculty workload will increase, adversely affecting scholarly output, the hallmark of a great faculty. Faculty recruitment, when cut to 20 per year, will hurt critical mass in all sorts of ways and mean a much bigger concern for faculty retention. The impact is profound and painful, and we're going to do our best to manage through it.

Irvine (Chancellor Michael Drake) The feel of everyday life at Irvine is different. Here are some of the smaller things that are important but are often overlooked. We cancelled the small infrastructural projects fund ($5- 7 M a year. We ended the Chancellor’s speakers series, which was something that brought people from the campus and the community together, thus ending their big humanitarian impact on that campus (for example the former president of Mexico Vicente Fox’s visit, which ended up creating a program that sent wheelchairs to Mexico). We started a new nursing program, had our first class graduate, most of whom are now working in our own hospital where there was a deep need. We are freezing the nursing program at 50, 1/4 of its intended size. Instead of growing the faculty by 50 a year as we need to do because of our constant growth (about 1000 more students each year), the faculty shrank by 15 this year with 1250 extra students. Our normal 150-200 unfilled faculty positions, with money we use to hire instructors etc., has grown to 300. He Vicki Ruiz in an Inside Higher Ed piece. We are down 309 staff, 102 through layoffs already in 2008-09. We all remember important teachers and special mentors that made a huge difference in our careers, and these mostly came from small classes. We've now eliminated the freshman and transfers seminar program, many discussion sections. We’ve ended the desktop initiative for renewing faculty computer equipment, ended support for academic travel, and imposed a 20% library cut including the electronic collection. We have stopped heating water in public bathrooms. The distinguished professor program is suspended, as are career awards, partnerships with the community and industry. In 37 years I've never seen a time so troublesome. We all know that the difference between A and A+ is huge. that's specifically why we came here. That’s the story of UC and the story of California. The cuts threaten that margin of excellence that made us so special.

Berkeley (Chancellor Robert Birgeneau): we’re for furloughs because they will save 450 layoffs at Berkeley. Chancellor reports he went to a meeting and spoke with the presidents of Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton. They told him they were shocked that faculty were included in the furloughs. It’s fair but we’re the only ones who have faculty participating this way – competitivity issue here. Our salaries already lag. Now our 25k gap per year just went to a 40 k gap. Ok to have furloughs for one year but this is not sustainable. Normally we have 100 searches (60 successful on acreage). They have gone to 10 searches a year, on a large campus. Faculty numbers are down by 100 short term. Grad teaching down 20% in some units. We’re closing libraries on Saturday, curtailing at other times. We estimate that course cutbacks mean students will take about a half a year longer to graduate. This is absolutely an extraordinary challenge as you have already heard.

Riverside (Chancellor Timothy White). 44% state funding is our Achilles heel. A very high percentage of our students are first generation college students, many fro poverty, hence their slope to succeed is steeper. These are unique and important students, and when we cut support services we hurt the students we most cherish. Our 300:1 advisor ratio will go to 500:1 in one year, which will impact our unique students graduation rates. We will double class sizes, thus seeing diminishing opportunities for our best students to be with our best faculty. We cancelled our freshmen discovery seminars. eliminating tutoring services will hurt our students’ competitiveness esp students of color and students in the sciences. Our medical school is on hold and therefore so is a Kaiser Permanente grant. Our public policy school and all other new, innovative projects are on indefinite hold. We are reducing our staff in our government relation’s offices and thus our ability to seek augmented funding at the moment when we need it the most. We have a $45 M general fund cut, or 25%. This year we had 17 new faculty, just a handful if any next year. 100 staff gone, more layoffs coming. We are a growth campus staff and faculty will be permanently down 15%. Still this is a campus poised for greatness, ready to serve, and all we are doing is making the least lousy decisions. but let me be clear, there are no white flags at the Unit of California at Riverside.

Merced (Chancellor Steve Kang). We are the newest campus, just starting up. 50% of our students are first-generation, 30 % are Asian, 30% are Hispanic, 8% African American. Our students come from Northern, Southern, and Central California in equal proportions We have only three buildings, no funds to build, and a funding formula based on enrollment without the enrollments that bring in the funds to build, which would then allow us to bring in enrollments. We are now facing a reduction of 40%, huge for a fledging campus. 60 courses cannot be taught. We already had insufficient staff support. We have lost 2 promising assistant professors in the last month. We have a lack of research space, startup support and thus no power of recruitment. Students are starting to worry. A parent of a student planning to come wrote to say his kids are going to Oregon and Washington instead of Merced because of the budget problems. We recruited 10 of 30 offers made, and the difficulty in recruiting hurts federal funding. In some areas there will be a real danger of failing accreditation. We have made plans for stopping operations for many days. WE are endangering access and continuation for students that come from less privileged backgrounds.

Santa Barbara (Chancellor Henry Yang): We are down 30% over the last 7 years in state general funds. Down $16 M this year, $45 M in the coming year. What have we done to deal with this? Workforce reductions - down 235 staff FTE w/ layoffs, separations, and reducing time. We have suspended 2 vice-chancellor searches. (3 of 5 VCs are left to meet this year's 3 times larger reduction. I must sincerely thank my remaining colleagues on campus for working so hard and helping each other out. Faculty losses: 2 of our National academy members have been recruited away by an Ivy League school in Boston. A 3rd is leaving next month. We are 30% down in admin services, 15% of our academic budget is cut. We are concerned about increased class size, faculty workload increasing which hurts productivity. Extension has been cut in half, we have 100 projects to save 1.3 M in energy costs. Many of our faculty and staff are up in arms about pay reductions. and are asking for delay. At our town hall they said that they are concerned about the survival of UC as a great university. They asked me to convey their request that you move from defunding the university to defending it.

Santa Cruz. (Chancellor George Blumenthal): If you look at various measures you can see that we are as a campus super high quality and high impact. But we are $50 M down since mid-2008. $3000 has been cut per student. Our frosh class down 750. We no longer have many academic advisors. We have eliminated 130 administrative positions. We are down 55 faculty members, 8% of the budgeted faculty, and we will defer all faculty recruitment. We are shutting the door to opportunity compared to the experience of earlier generations. We have eliminated the Institute for Science and Global Policy, another for environmental research. Lick Observatory is cut way down. If you add up all the cuts, how many courses will go untaught, and how many breakthroughs in knowledge will be delayed or undiscovered. 160 admin positions gone, 2/3 of total cuts. now the cuts are becoming more devastating, fundamentally affecting student access and academic quality. California is fundamentally disinvesting in higher education. We must be creative and focused - there's too much at stake to do anything less.


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