Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What are the risks in UC turning to the federal government for funding?

Is UC Davis really a national university?

Read on….

 “As California tightens purse strings, UC turns to Uncle Sam”

by Laurel Rosenhall
Tuesday, Oct. 06, 2009, Sacramento Bee

This article outlines what the federal government has given to UC to help bail the system out of the current budget crisis and what UC wants in the future. In the current budget year, $700 million in federal stimulus funds went to UC to fill the gap in state funding as well as millions of federal dollars that fund scientific research every year at UC.

But UC leaders want to turn the temporary stimulus money into permanent funding. University leaders have sought out members of Congress and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to pitch the idea of the federal government playing a bigger role in funding higher education than they have done in the past, when individual states were up to the task. 

 "There never has been an integrated national strategy in this country for higher education. There needs to be one now," said Mark Yudof, UC President. "The mission is simply too important to leave to state governments that seem disinclined or unable to pursue it."

This new strategy does not mean that UC has given up on the state of California even though it has cut funding to the 10-campus system by 20 percent over the past year and a half. And it doesn't lessen UC's immediate need to raise student fees by 32 percent over the next year. In response to the budget crisis, the university is furloughing professors, raising fees and cutting classes, which has led to campus protests and walkouts last month.

Some Chancellors have taken action. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post a few days ago, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau suggested that President Barack Obama create a national network of the country's top public research universities. If Washington provided sufficient additional funding for operations and student support, then some part of these federal resources would ensure broad access and continued excellence at these public universities for both in-state and out-of-state students.

The status of many of the great public universities as “land-grant” universities, those founded on land the federal government gave the states. makes them essentially national universities, said UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. "The impact of these institutions grew beyond the border of the states,” she noted. “So now it's the time maybe for the federal government to step in and say, 'This is a national treasure.' "

This push comes at a time when other countries, like South Korea, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, are looking to the US for leadership in creating public university systems.

"Around the world - they understand that to keep their nations competitive, they have to be knowledge factories," Yudof said. "The states and the federal government should be partners in doing this."

So far, federal education officials are noncommittal on the UC proposals, saying they plan to stick to Obama's agenda for higher education.

"The president's higher education agenda is focused on increasing access, quality and affordability for all Americans," said Justin Hamilton, deputy press secretary in the U.S. Department of Education. "We're developing policies that will help us meet that goal."

Read the full article at

Monday, October 5, 2009

“UC Berkeley to pay consultant to find cost cuts”

San Francisco Chronicle,
Monday, October 5, 2009

The San Francisco Chronicle published an article today written by Nanette Asimov in which she reported that UC Berkeley has agreed to pay a consultant $3 million to help the university save money.
UCB is facing a $150 million budget deficit for the 2009-10 year. Through short-term measures like cutting faculty pay through unpaid furlough days, laying off employees, reducing course offerings, fund raising, and increasing fees, the campus has whittled that deficit down, but there is still a long way to go to deal with what looks like permanent budget reductions.
To fix that problem, the University has hired Bain & Co., the Massachusetts-based consultant with offices in San Francisco, to do the job. UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary, who will oversee the project, said that the outside consultants will advise a core group of administrators and faculty members charged with finding long-term savings in how the university does business, such as in its purchasing practices or technology needs.
Many faculty have opposed this move to hire outside consultants when faculty are picking up part of the bill out of the their 8% pay cut. They feel that UC Berkeley should utilize the services of in-house experts at its own Haas School of Business to do the work. Chancellor Birgeneau disagreed, saying “Not only do employees not have time for such an endeavor, we recognize that 'self-diagnosis' is not always impartial (and) that fresh ideas from outside our campus may have a role in helping us improve."

Some faculty approved of the plan. Law Professor Chris Kutz, the chair of the Berkeley Faculty Senate, likened the situation to a homeowner who wants to save money on the heating bill and invests in a new furnace.
Read the full article at

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Medical School at UC Merced

“Loose Lips: How about a shorter name, please”
by Merced Sun-Star, Friday, Oct. 02, 2009

The Merced Sun Star published a short article last Friday on the process that appears to be leading to the building of a medical school at UC Merced.

Campus leaders said that with funds already received from the federal government, the next step is to establish an undergraduate program that “lays the groundwork for the medical school.” The name is the highly descriptive “Center of Excellence for the Study of Health Disparities in Rural and Ethnic Underserved Populations.”

The article pokes fun at the proposed name for this undergrad program but does not address the issue of building another medical school in this time of budget crisis both in the state and UC.