Friday, November 15, 2019

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Nov. 14, 2019

We are jumping ahead (and will circle back later) to the Regents meeting of Nov. 14th. Earlier, we covered Nov. 12th so we are for the moment skipping over Nov. 13th, which had the various committee meetings plus a full board session. Yours truly has some time constraints.

The Nov. 14th meeting included a closed session on regular board matters (primarily legal issues) plus another closed session relating to the process for choosing a new UC prez to replace Janet Napolitano. Because these closed matters were taking a lot of time, the Regents went into open session to hear public comments and two student representatives, then went back to closed session, and then returned to open session.

The audio links below only cover the open sessions, of course.

Topics in public comment and with the students reps included tuition and the state budget, abortion, DACA and other undocumented students, union issues, employee pension contributions, the Hawaii telescope, green electric power, student voting, student food insecurity, and campus climate/diversity.

In the resumed open session, the board approved the UC budget request for 2020-21 and endorsed a proposed bond measure that will be on the 2020 ballot which would provided some benefits for UC. Much of the other discussion revolved around tuition and proposals to augment the budget with another (up to) $43 million which will be requested from the state. The extra money was to support undocumented students, foster care students, and formerly incarcerated students.

The tuition discussion in part dealt with the so-called "cohort model" which would guarantee incoming students a fixed tuition in real terms (i.e., adjusted annually for inflation) until they graduated. It was pointed out in the discussion that should such a model be adopted, the burden of some future budget crisis would fall entirely on incoming students and not incumbents. None of this was resolved. Cautionary notes were expressed by President Napolitano and others. In the short term, the budget foresees an enrollment increase which brings in more revenue. The fact that such an enrollment increase is being planned may be tacit recognition that the marginal cost of added students is less than the marginal revenue they bring.

In the end, since the budget approved was simply a request, there was a sense that until the January meeting - when the governor's wishes will presumably be known - the budget request is in fact in limbo.

Below is a news account of the meeting. (The reader might want to look toward the bottom to see that added enrollment may be decreasing student satisfaction.)

UC plans to enroll 1,400 more California undergraduates with no tuition increase

Teresa Watanabe, Nov. 15, 2019, LA Times

SAN FRANCISCO —  The University of California plans to enroll 1,400 more California undergraduates next year with no tuition increase under a 2020-21 budget approved Thursday by the board of regents.

The UC system also will enroll 1,000 additional graduate students and expand mental health services and academic support in its drive to increase graduation rates and close the achievement gap among diverse student groups.

The UC Student Assn. successfully lobbied regents to ask the state for $43 million for services for students living in the U.S. illegally and those who were formerly incarcerated or in the foster care system.

Association President Varsha Sarveshwar said students wanted fully staffed centers on every campus for students who lack legal status — especially as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether to allow the Trump administration to end a program that protects from deportation those who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

She also said campuses must better address what she called a “crisis in recruiting and retaining black and brown students.”

“We’re over the moon,” she said after the unanimous vote to approve the budget.

The $10-billion spending plan for core academic services includes state general funds, university general funds and tuition and fee revenue — funding requests that the regents send to Sacramento every November as the governor draws up state budget proposals for the next year.

It represents about a quarter of the UC system‘s entire budget — which also includes revenue from federal contracts, medical centers, philanthropy and sales.

This year, UC is requesting about $447 million in additional ongoing state funding to enroll the increased number of students, support the UC Riverside medical school, hire faculty and expand student services systemwide next year. The university system also is asking for $450 million in one-time state funds to upgrade facilities and $25 million to foster innovation and entrepreneurial start-ups.

Regents briefly discussed possible plans for approving a future tuition increase — which may be likely if the state fails to provide their requested funding. One idea is to increase tuition for each incoming class but guarantee that rate for six years, which would raise money for operations and financial aid while allowing students and families to plan their college expenses.

Regent Sherry Lansing said there was “nothing more painful” than having to approve large and sudden tuition increases during the Great Recession, and she expressed support for the plan’s “built-in steady increases.”

Regent George Kieffer, however, said he favored raising tuition across the board as needed to account for inflation, which would better cushion the UC system in case of recession or unexpected cuts in state funding.

President Janet Napolitano said she wanted regents to understand that “a great university needs a revenue stream it can depend on … as costs go up.”

Regents plan to revisit the tuition debate in January, after Gov. Gavin Newsom unveils his budget proposal.

A UC briefing memo said the university system has continued to enroll record numbers of California students in the last several years without receiving enough state funding to cover the extra costs. As a result, “signs have emerged that despite improvements in some measures of institutional performance, the quality of instruction, the adequacy of student services, and students’ overall satisfaction with their educational experience have declined over time.”

The memo said that the number of students per faculty member has grown from an average of 25 in 2004-05 to 28 in 2017-18. Among university staff — who provide such services as advising, mental health counseling and financial aid administration — the number has grown from 11.5 students in 2007-08 to 15.6 students in 2017-18.

In university surveys, students have expressed less satisfaction with their UC experience. Compared with a 2006 survey, fewer students last year said they know a professor well enough to ask for a letter of recommendation, were able to get into their first-choice majors or agree strongly that they would still choose to enroll at a UC campus.


Audio link below:

or direct to:

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