Sunday, February 14, 2010

UCB Academic Senate Update on Budget and Furloughs (2/12/10)

Dear Colleagues:

I write now with some brief bullet-point updates on the Senate's efforts in relation to our difficult financial times.

-- As background, the state continues to anticipate a very large deficit this year. While the Governor's budget did call for restoring approximately $300M in funds cut last year from the UC budget, it would probably not be prudent - in my view - to assume that our budgetary situation for 2010-11 will be better than 2009-10. In addition, the Governor's proposed constitutional amendment, which called for shifting money to higher education by privatizing the state prison system, has attracted no political support (and a great deal of criticism as a policy proposal). While UCOP has been apparently working with to develop alternative constitutional amendments, it would again be imprudent not to expect a silver bullet.

-- The systemwide Senate has been adamant that faculty and staff furloughs must end this summer, to restore confidence in the academic enterprise. We were very pleased, therefore, that President Yudof has gone on record to rule out furloughs for next year, at any campus. Of course, ruling out furloughs will mean that there will be other difficult budget choices to be made next year.

-- The Berkeley Senate's Budget Transparency project took an important step forward last week when we hosted a presentation and discussion by Associate Vice Chancellor Erin Gore about the large-scale financial structure of the campus budget. AVC Gore's Powerpoint slides and an audio recording of the session can be found here:

The presentation represents a very successful collaboration between the campus Budget Office and the Senate's Budget Working Group, to cast light on the astounding complexity of the campus budget. This project, I believe, makes it possible for the faculty as a whole to begin more focused inquiries and discussions about our finances. We plan more public sessions on more detailed topics, including research funding and capital projects, in the coming weeks. I welcome any other suggestions. The Budget Working Group is also working intensively with the senior administration on the budgeting decisions to be made for next year.

-- I have been serving on the Operational Excellence (Bain consulting) Steering committee, along with Senate colleagues Professors Carlos Bustamante (Physics/MCB) and Catherine Wolfram (Business). That project is now four months into the diagnostic phase, and it has already cast a great deal of light on addressable inefficiencies within our campus organization. I am optimistic that the project will repay the investment in Bain's services many times over, as well as resulting in genuine improvements in many of the services we provide. Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary has prepared a YouTube video, accessible at the Operational Excellence webpage,, providing an overview of the project thus far. The Senate will be holding several discussions of Operational Excellence over the next weeks and months.

As always, I welcome any comments or suggestions, at I will write more as news on the budgetary front develops.

Yours in shared governance,

Christopher Kutz
Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate
Professor of Law, Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program

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