(With a New Response by David Theo Goldberg - linked below)
Wherever there are enrollment-based budget subsidies (from the robust enrollments of the Social Sciences and Humanities to the increasingly expensive STEM fields with small labs and classes), all that's about to go away. This much is clear even without tallying squeezes and losses in those areas that are already woefully short of faculty and of graduate students - they will soon be unable to serve their full student population any longer, as they continue to lose both faculty and graduate student support. A couple of data points: campuses are reducing block grants allocated to graduate programs, so that only those faculty who have ample soft money can fund grad students. Campuses also seek to outsource first-year subjects like math, composition, and language instruction to extension or summer, further decimating the only way the Humanities and other core campus areas can support grad students.
Meanwhile, Berkeley just lost at least two, perhaps three of its most senior people in Art History (perhaps the strongest Art History Department outside New York City...), others are about to follow. Faculty in the language departments everywhere in the UC are being recruited by Chicago, by universities in Texas, by privates and publics across the nation. People at UC Santa Cruz are apoplectic: History of Consciousness has been decimated, even as students numbers grew; UCLA has had to whore its Humanities people out to special interests in the donor community to get some support. And UCSD was about to shoot its Arts people to put them out of their misery (as retirees have been either not replaced, or they hired people who can play Calit2 and new technologies); they just saved a few select Arts faculty, but only again with big donor money. UCI lost more than ten percent of its Humanities faculty in the past two years, but due to the budget crunch there are no replacement lines. As their Dean wrote recently in Inside Higher Ed:
"The privates have come calling," says Ruiz, dean of the University of California at Irvine's School of Humanities. "I've lost very valued faculty members to Yale, to Northwestern, to Penn, to Pomona, to Scripps [...] "We are not able to put together the counter offers that we have in the past," she says soberly. […] "We're going to be a smaller school."
That campus was once planned, in the 1960s, explicitly as a Humanities flagship in the system; and most of UCI's Humanities programs got ranked in the top 10 or top 20 nationally. That school is now being decimated to where it cannot recover, and yet Engineers openly call for the Humanities to be closed in favor of additional subsidies for expensive labs.
Yes, people who are not in Academia for the money are taking such symbolic slights more seriously - and the writing on the wall is very clear: Arts and Humanities are being decimated every which way. One campus's Hum division took a ten percent budget cut this fall, while BioSci there got off taking a 3 per cent cut to its state-funded budget (plus they have non-state funds, while Arts and Humanities don't). Double whammy.
The Humanities center directors could not even begin to get David Theo Goldberg (director of the system-wide Humanities Research Institute, now controlling virtually all Humanities research dollars yet ignoring its own name) to commit to Humanities rather than to education and science studies (and digital anything). People have given up hiring into the Berkeley clusters that were going to be a way of anchoring Arts and Humanities into other disciplines.
The people running the campuses, and dominating the tone in Senate and Administration alike, are almost exclusively now from the professional schools - Medicine, Law, plus some Engineering, BioSci, and a sprinkle of dyspeptic Economists. And of course the BioSci people now all want to paid like MedSchool faculty, tapping soft money that used to be reserved for grad students and lab expenses, not faculty salaries. Rumors about the next UC Provost point once again to a hugely expensive MedSchool appointment with XYZ comp up the wazoo, instead of someone from a main campus discipline - another PR nightmare in the making for UC. There seem to be no people talking to President Yudof regularly who have ever taught a full room of undergraduate students. Senate reps like to whine about deadly Edley's manners, but nobody has a clue about what could be done to balance the representation in the Senate or on the Commission. There are fewer and fewer Historians, Philosophers, or English profs in any campus senate organization than ever - not to mention people from the Arts. Why? Because they drop out when faced with with populist resentment from the servile arts against the liberal arts and humanities. The Gould Commission is a much more empowered group right now than any part of the Senate, sadly, though it's years behind the curve and only beginning to ask the most obvious questions. Meanwhile, the UC has to deal with campus grassroots initiatives that are best at shooting themselves in all extremities before getting any traction.