Monday, July 13, 2009

Continuation: UC Death Watch 1

There's blood, but also progress:
  • recognition of the core effect of cuts: "Higher Cost, Lower Quality"
  • coverage of university budgeting. The author points out that the giant $19.2 Billion UC budget is largely irrelevant to campus operations: "the state funds are the key factor when it comes to paying for academic staffing and the undergraduate experience."
  • clarity about the damage to research. Higher percentages of important research are going unfunded: the UC multicampus research program "only provided $12.4 million in funding for the $346.4 million in proposals submitted" - having funds for 0.36% of demand. UCI English professor Jack Miles rightly raises the possibility that “UC would be no longer a research university."
  • clarity about the damage to public service: closure of UCSF's California Poison Control Center "will make California the only state in the nation without poison control services."
  • clarity about damage to core education: UCLA plans to reduce English as a Second Langauge courses from 25 to 7 during the academic year. "Many of the students in ESL classes are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds . . ",
  • examples of how market forces often damage education: "Reducing ESL offerings during the academic year will make it more difficult for . . . students to work, and those international students who would otherwise return home will be forced to stay in the U.S. By moving the required courses to the summer, however, UCLA all but guarantees it will boost enrollment in more expensive summer classes."
And then there's the blood without progress:
  • ongoing vagueness about the quality meltdown: UCI Dean Ruiz rattles off half-a-dozen recent faculty departures. Why don't we have statistics on increasing rates of failed retention? We need these now.
  • ongoing, damaging confusion about the dire need to "make the case to the public." In reality this is simple: explain to the public (a) what the cuts will eliminate and (b) that fees would need to rise 40-50% in one year to make up for cuts of 20%. The public doesn't even know why they need to listen to a case because they haven't yet been told the truth about the cuts and costs.
  • mental blockage on the Board of Regents:Their ideas seem limited to having fewer students and more computers. The new Chair of the Board of Regents Russ Gould is announcing a planning taskforce. This is the third task force like this that I personally know of in as many years. Instead, Regent Gould, why not listen to the dozens and dozens of solid ideas coming from your staff, students, and faculty - experts on education - take notes, and implement the best of them?

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