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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013
If you're an investor in educational services and are following MOOCmania in the newspapers or in the mind of the technopublicist Thomas Friedman, you may or may not buy their overblown educational claims, and you wouldn't see immediately how they are going to make money.  On the other hand, you might think, they can't be worse at making money than existing universities.

A quick tour of the horizon would show this investor major problems with the university's "traditional business model."

Policy paralysis: Public universities are never independent of state politicians, and none of the latter want to reverse huge, long term spending cuts even as it gradually dawns on them that the alleged cures for past cuts, namely tuition hikes, are worse than the disease.  Academic managers and politicians have jointly entered the phase that the prominent management guru Jim Collins calls "grasping for salvation."  Real budgetary and fiscal problems, you might assume while wearing your investor hat, will not be solved.

Flat revenue sources: Readers of reports by Moody's and other services will learn that all traditional revenues are under pressure, both on the private side, meaning especially tuition increases and endowment growth, and on the public side, particularly state appropriations and financial aid.  California's Jerry Brown is typical in insisting on continuing austerity.

Unconfronted major costs. You may or may not have followed senior manager plans to merge payroll systems or to securitize parking lot revenues, but you will note at least two major expenditures that senior managers have not addressed
  • Administrative bloat. UC budget watchdog Charles Schwartz has just updated his previous study to show that administrative personnel have continued to outgrow academic staff during the crisis (chart above). He estimates the cost of "excess" administrative growth at about $1 billion per year. UC itself has classified 74 percent of its personnel, including medical center personnel, as non-instructional administration.
  • Unreimbursed research costs.  UCOP's Office of Research estimated that in one recent year when UC had $3.5 Billion in gross revenues, it netted negative $720 million on this research.  The National Science Foundation, though it has long benefited from university subsidies of the costs it does not cover, confirmed the pattern that on average research universities put at least 20 cents of "institutional funds" into research funding for every extramural dollar they receive (page 16). You may remark, as an investor, that nothing meaningful is being done to address recommendations that research not be cut back, but fully funded.
  • Politicized allocation of insructional resources.  Inside Higher Ed suddenly published a piece on UC "rebenching" today--with data apparently from the Delta Project showing, for example, UCLA students getting twice the per capita allocation as students at UCSC.  I've discussed the State Auditor's version of these findings, but even to an outsider they might suggest that instructional money follows the path of clout and prestige rather than of instructional need.  As an investor, you might wonder about the future of a central administration that lets a Santa Cruz student get half in instructional money of what she pays in tuition (actually less than that). You might conclude that on a per-dollar basis a MOOC could do quite a bit better.
The obvious advantage of online education is that it can replace administrative systems with temporary production staff,  conduct no research, and equalize teaching resources.  Online can freeride on research universities, at least as long as they last. But it can also dump the costs of "mission creep" that have created an overwhelmingly complicated system.

Online ed won't solve any of higher education's problems, either educational or budgetary. But in your investor role, it only takes a few minutes to see why you might bet on them instead of on public universities.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013
State political leaders are now using board meetings in the Cal State and University of California systems as political theaters.  Every couple of months they administer dramatic tonguelashings and stagey defenses of their constituents' interests.  I can't remember a time when the constitutional autonomy of UC has seemed so nonexistent.  Mark Yudof was hired in part because of his demonstrated success with state legislatures, so it is worth looking further into how things have gone so awry.

I usually focus on Jerry Brown, who has blended advocacy of the disruptive technologies of the 1970s--bullet trains, water tunnels, distance learning--with Hooveresque austerity.  But I got a new perspective from the statement of Assembly Speaker John Pérez that the UCLA FA Blog helpfully posted yesterday.

Here is my partial transcription of his comments, which are worth reading carefully for reasons I discuss in the annotations.
. . . The possibility of increased funding right now: it doesn't exist. . . .There is no significant amount of money to backfill previous cuts. We've made roughly $900 million in cuts and you've increased fees $1.4 billion  dollars. The [fee] increases were disproportionate to the level of disinvestment by the state.  
Pérez is accurately citing Department of Finance data (Figure HED-01). From the state's point of view, UC turned a massive public funding cut into a $500 million net gain for the university.

This doesn't square with UCOP's standing claim that tuition increases make up for only one-third of the state cuts (pp 3-4).  Absent a clear explanation from the Office of the President, the state will assume that UC has done extremely well in the crisis.  Pérez adds a bit later that "higher education and K through 12 education are virtually the only places where there were any restorations to the cuts in this year's budget"--painting UC and CSU as big winners in a still struggling economy.

It is worth recalling that this statement is further evidence for the argument that I and other Senate planning and budget types have been making to UCOP for a decade, which is that tuition increases cause public funding cuts, since they teach legislatures that public cuts have no negative consequences for universities.   Pérez is saying that Sacramento has also noticed this fatal reciprocity--and plans to stop it by freezing the tuition side, with a twist.
We need to really address the problem of the increases that our students have endured over the last several years. And that doesn't just impact our undergraduate students. There is a huge problem with respect to our graduate students, and our professional school students.  Not only are we losing so many to other great universities, but even those that chose to stay within the university system are then hamstrung by the amount of debt that they graduate with. It limits the choices that they make, and the options that they have to make their full imprint on this state. That is a very real problem that we all must address.
Mr. Pérez is quite right about the effects of grad and professional school debt.  Conventional UC wisdom, on the other hand, assumes that the legislature doesn't care about these students because it has no interest in research or graduate programs.  This appears not to have been the case.

A long line of UC administrators convinced themselves that financial aid would offset large fee hikes, and that high fees wouldn't interfere with UC's public mission. The most vocal architect and theorist of this policy was Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley, who argued that the era of public funding was over but that high tuition / high aid would allow UC to serve the public interest even better.* These arguments appear not to have persuaded the legislature, or at least the Assembly Speaker.  Now the University as a whole is being punished for the sins of the professional schools.

Mr. Pérez continues:
But we need to be very clear that we have an expectation in the legislature that you do no additional harm to access to the University as you treat all of your students, not just your undergraduates. And the decisions that we make here will impact the way that this budget, and successive budgets, are viewed by the legislature. 
Let me speak to one item in particular. This notion that the additional $125 million that the Governor and the Legislature were able to find in the waning days of last year's budget discussion as a buy-down for a proposed fee increase was essential to do in that moment.  It does not create a new model for you. Do not expect that you can propose a graduate or professional school fee increase and then come to us and find a buy-down.
This says in effect that the Democratic supermajority in the legislature will follow the Governor in neutralizing tuition increases.  They will not be bought out, so UC will take the tuition heat from students. And these increases may trigger either new cuts or non restoration of public funds to balance out any increased revenue from the tuition increases that Sacramento doesn't want.

Finally, the Speaker appeals to the self-interest of UC's decisionmakers. If you do propose fee increases, he says,
What you will find, is that we will come back to you and say, what are you doing about executive compensation? You will find a Speaker that is less receptive to your efforts to stop legislation that is aimed at limiting your ability to compensate your executives at the level that you have. Why? We have stood with you beecause we understand that you need to be competitive in attracting the best administrators, the best researchers, the best clinicians to have a world class institution. But we also need to have the best students. If we make decisions that undermine our ability to have those worldclass students, they will be met with a similar reaction by my colleagues in the legislature.  . . . We have to be very clear in how we move forward . . . nothing can be done in a way that undermines our commitment to a broad-based university community that is actually is continuing its committment to affordability and accessibility.
Everyone agrees with the Speaker's accessibility goals. But here the speaker is saying that access can no longer be pursued through the privatization of education's costs.

Assuming this sticks, then here's what we're looking at. No restored public funding.  No tuition increases.   The end of moderate stability via privatization. Checkmate.

We have to consider the possibility that UC is never going to regain its foundational combination of mass access and top quality.  I don't accept this. I assume I have plenty of company.  But the only way forward is to justify instructional and research costs in a way that (1) allows equitable and effective internal distribution, which we don't have; and (2) explains the need for funding recovery in a way that seems plausible to the public and the legislature.

(1) is a major job for the Senate.  (2) is everybody's job. It would include explaining the value of physical infrastructure, of face to face contact, of student services and administrative support, of course sequencing and intellectual immersion -- of all the things that go into the "student experience."

Senior managers can't or won't do this without faculty help. Our incentive is that if we don't do this, the current best case scenario is this year's budget flatlined into the future, year after year.

***

*Professional school tuition increases became a public issue in the fall of 2009 when a new wave of professional schools added or raised fees at the same time as undergrad fees were going up 32%.  But a change in professional school fee policy had begun four years before.  Previously, these fees were benchmarked to the fees charged for in-state students at comparable public universities (Attachment B, Bullet 4). There were other criteria and much wiggle room, which had allowed "big five" professional schools (law, business, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine) to double fees during the cuts cycle 2002-05 from the $6k to the $13k range (Attachment 1 Display 5). The increases were around 30% for 2004-05. Display 6, which sets up comparisons between UC's 2005-06 fees and those of similar universities (and which includes campus fees in an average total that is higher than the figures in Display 5), shows the Big Five professional school categories in the $21,500 to $24,500 range.  For 2006-07, professional schools raised fees another 10% and clawed back money lost in a lawsuit to previous professional school students by charging that year's students a $1050 surcharge (page 2).  In January 2007, the Regents discussed a change in professional school policy that put competitive needs and market forces first, and allowed professional schools to keep additional fee increments rather than receiving a portion of their fees back from the campus.  They approved this policy in March 2007, over Senate concerns about using fee increases routinely to replace public funding cuts, though they did reject in principle differential fees across the system. In September 2007, the Regents approved three years of increases of 18-19 percent per year at the major professional schools.  Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley was the most eloquent, tireless proponent of the increases, arguing in public and private that quality, defined in large part as rankings, had been hammered by public funding cuts, and that very major tuition increases were the only solution. (A 2005 LAT op-ed is here; his discussion with the LAT's Richard Paddock of March 12, 2007 was also important, though no longer on line. My recounting to him of the history and effects of his interventions starts here).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013
Mark Yudof in 2008, before his arrival at the University of California

These materials will be expanded and edited on a rolling basis.

1992, May 13: Mark Yudof, "The Burgeoning Privatization of State Universities, CHE
2002, January 13: Mark Yudof, "Is the Public Research University Dead?" CHE
2004, March 12: Mark Yudof, "What if the Yankees Were Run Like a Public University?" CHE
2008, February 15: Mark Yudof, ""Are University Systems a Good Idea?" CHE
2009: Feburary 20: "UC and CSU: Cut Again" (Newfield)
2009, June 17: Mark Yudof on the UC budget and variations of furloughs
2009, June 30: Mark Yudof and Richard Blum to UC Faculty Associations on Budget Cuts (with reminder that faculty are not to address Regents directly)
2009, September 24: Mark Yudof in the New York Times: "being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery  . . ."
2009, September 30: "Mark Yudof Says Yes-No to the Public Option" (Newfield)
2009, December 9: Time Magazine letters on selection of Mark Yudof as a Top-10 college president
2010, May 2: Mark Yudof to the Chronicle of Higher Education, explaining his repeated rhetorical question "who is going to pay the salary of the English department"? (Response to Robert Watson, "The Humanities Really Do Produce a Profit," CHE March 21, 2010).
2010, May 23: "Strange Defeat" (Meranze)
2010, June 6: "Same Flat Revenues, Same Flat Pitch: How to do Better" (Newfield)
2010, August 27: "Why Did Mark Yudof Discuss the Pension Report Ahead of Its Release?" (Newfield)
2011, January 11: Mark Yudof's BMOC Interview with Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times(h/t Cloudminder)
2011, January 16: "Ending a Bad UC Week: What Points Might Help Turn Things Around?" (Newfield)
2011, May 24: "Whose University: On Yudof and 'Us'" (Reclaim UC)
2011, July 13, "Feeding the Cuts, Part 1" (Newfield)
2011, December 11: "There Are Alternatives to the Yudof Privatization Story" (Newfield)
2012, February 9: "Have We Protected Poor Students from Debt?" (Newfield)
2012, March 8: Mark Yudof to UC Community on campus climate, provoked by heckler at UC Davis's "Israeli Soldiers Speak Out"
2012, April 12: "That Was the Week that Was (UC Policing)" (Meranze)
2012, June 29: Mark Yudof on 2012-2013 Budget (declaration of victory for advocacy program)
2012, September 19: "Progress at the Regents' Retreat" (Newfield)
2012, November 12: "The UC Regents' Budget: The Trouble with the Prop 30 Norm" (Newfield)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013
This morning I found myself on KQED's Forum with Michael Krassny program to discuss online education with San Jose State President Mo Qayoumi, Udacity's Sebastian Thrun, and (unfortunately too briefly) Student Regent Jonathan Stein.   You can find the audio here.  Although a variety of topics came up let me point to just a few of the points that became clear over the course of the hour.

First, the discourse around education online remains hopelessly muddled.   As Bob Samuels just pointed out the official line coming from the Regents, the Governor, and the MOOC-makers is that higher education has been frozen in a glacier for decades only now being thawed in the brilliant sunlight of Coursera, Udacity, and EDx.  In this framing, faculty are cast as luddites opposed to the inevitable progress of humanity.  Ironically, the only person who dissented from this in any significant way was Chris Edley who, in trying to get his desire for a virtual campus back on the table, conceded that there have been ongoing experiments on all the campuses to include digital tools and to restructure specific courses when online or digital will enrich the course experience.  The Governor's framing of online depends on a serious misreading of history. 

But today's discussion revealed an even deeper level of confusion.  One of the interesting things about today's program was that it sought to combine two extremely different problem situations: a discussion of the recent contract between SJSU and Udacity to create experimental courses designed to help CSU and high school students who need remedial teaching to thrive in college and a discussion of the direction that UCOP and the Regents want to take in expanding online courses at UC.   But while the conversation did point to several points of agreement (the continuing importance of the residential experience for college; the importance of using online resources to provide things that are different from what goes on in face to face teaching; the concern to make certain that education was not debased in the pursuit of cost savings; worries about maintaining the teaching function) what is clear is that online education is being treated as a solution to a wide range of problems without actually asking if it was really the most appropriate solution or seriously considering what other solutions were possible.

Sebastian Thrun and President Qayoumi were quite clear that they were conducting an inquiry with outside evaluation to address a specific problem.  And it does seem to be a fascinating experiment.  But as one caller pointed out, rather than turning to private providers to provide remedial education shouldn't the state  engagie with K-12 teachers to ensure that students are provided the knowledge and tools they need.  And while this experiment has gained a great deal of publicity (and one assumes will enable Udacity to monetize its program) there seems to be an unquestioned assumption that if this specific experiment works it demonstrates the wider applicability of this sort of partnership throughout higher ed.  I was reminded of the old saying that if all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.

This enthusiasm merges into a second point:  it has become even clearer over the past few days that technology is being seen as a replacement for actual political debate and social investment. Although Krassny seemed quite interested when I pointed out the actual funding history of Higher Ed in California and the Governor's efforts to naturalize political decisions that he and his immediate predecessors had made, none of the other guests engaged the question.  In this silence, I could hear echoes of yesterday's Regents meeting.

The mantra of innovation and online courses as a solution for the problems facing students (student debt, time to degree, decline in face to face teaching, issues of access) allows the political and educational establishment (and the online start-ups) to avoid the question of social priorities.   Insofar as online is not being designed to replace face to face instruction but to enrich it (in which case it is unlikely to provide cost savings) then it is being used to paper over a political decision to de-emphasize the training of mass creativity so and instead expand mass incarceration and increase inequality. 

But before Jerry presses everyone to love his iPhone or Regent Pattiz convinces us to think of courses as Mp3 downloads it is important to insist that online planning be linked far more carefully to specific aims and goals.  What specific tasks are online efforts trying to accomplish? Which specific problems do they aim to solve?  How will online courses factor into larger questions of academic programs for both undergraduate and graduate students?  And what alternatives are being pushed aside in the rush to online?   Faculty have shown that you can enrich education with properly thought through digital tools and the for-profits have cut educational costs (if not prices) if you are willing to sacrifice quality.  But here is the question:  where is the evidence that you can do both at once?   

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I was only able to listen to a portion of the Regent's session on Online Education (I caught the last 45 minutes of the UCOP discussion and the presentation by the MOOC providers).  But even in that period two extremely important points were made although it is unclear that the Regents or UCOP really understood their importance.  But faculty must.

The first was made by Jonathan Stein (the "student" regent).  Stein pointed out quite forcefully that in his dealing with students he found no groundswell of support for online education--despite the shibboleth that since young people today are raised on technology they must prefer digital approaches.  As Stein stressed, most UC students are paying a great deal of money, expect and want a residential environment and the possibility of real rather than virtual contact with peers and professors.  Given the National Bureau of Economic Research's recent study on the importance of real versus virtual friends for one's happiness this is no great surprise for those who take the time to think about it.  But we might want to listen to digital natives like Stein; they may understand the limits of these platforms better than UCOE does.

The power of this point was brought home by the panic stricken responses of President Yudof and Regent Lansing that no one,  really no one, not a soul, was even contemplating moving all of UC online or requiring students to take courses online.  But we should press them on this point.  If UCOP and the Regents end up trying to use the expansion of online courses--rather than say the increase in the number of faculty--as a way to overcome so-called "bottleneck" courses, and if they use online courses as the primary means to allow community college students to meet their lower-division requirements then, as a practical matter, students will be compelled to take online courses even if they are not officially required.  Faculty need to take Stein's argument seriously: but in order to do so we need to re-articulate the ecology of the residential campus and the connections between different parts of students' experiences.  It is not seeking to block innovation to recognize that there is a fundamental value to many students (especially younger students) to the residential experience and the face to face interaction with teachers and peers.  

The second point--in some ways even more far-reaching--was made by Sebastian Thrun founder of Udacity.  As Thrun insisted, online courses will not offer educational advantages if they simply try to transfer the classroom experience into a digital form.  Putting faculty in front of cameras and simply recording their lectures will only dehumanize the process of learning and serve to debase the practice of teaching.  Online will be an advantage only when it can be put together to do exercises that cannot easily be done in a classroom (and not simply in the sense that you can get more people to see a lecture) and when those exercises can be combined with a renewed attention to person to person pedagogical contact.

To be sure, Thrun's comments were directed, at least in part, towards justifying why campuses needed to hand control over course construction to his course designers.   But that is not its only significance.  Instead its greater significance lies in the reality that if online offerings are going to be used to enrich the possibilities offered in California higher ed they must be designed in ways that enrich the goals of different academic programs by either offering a different set of challenges for students or else by supplementing the face-to-face teaching already being done (the purpose of the so-called flipped course).  The first question that needs to be asked of any online endeavor is what educational value does this enable me to do that I cannot do in a more traditional format.

I wish that there was evidence that the Regents understood this point.  But judging by the close there was none.  Regent Pattiz continues to think of online as if higher ed is the music business where you purchase a download of a discrete chunk of content rather than--as Thrun and others tried to convey--an ongoing process of directed learning.  Regent Reiss, not showing the sort of attentive learning one might wish, trotted out the tired cliche about the end of the "sage on a stage" not realizing that the implications of the presentations by EDx, Coursera, and Udacity was that the teacher as director (and not as "guide on the side") becomes even more important in these models.

If the capacity of digital tools is that it may enable more possibilities for learning through questions and problems it is worth remembering that that model goes back even further than the much abused modern lecture in a classroom and that it was tied to a sage.  Because what Thrun was talking about was the reinvention of Socratic dialogue and not the download of an mp3 file.  It has been the austerity policies of the last twelve years--not the invention of new technologies or the alleged conservatism of the faculty--that has driven the dialogue and the seminar to the margins of the university.  If we are serious about the quality of education then returning the dialogue and the seminar to the center is the task facing education going forward--whether digital or not,

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

California continues to show public universities the way towards a permanent austerity.  Governor Jerry Brown's budget proposal for 2013-14 (summary for higher education), released January 10, is a case in point. It raises once again the question about how to respond, which I'll discuss below.

A quick review: The budget provides $125 million in additional funds (the other $125M of a reported $250M was a Prop 30 tuition buyout for last year), and will still leave UC 19% below its 2007-08 state funding level in dollars unadjusted for inflation, enrollment increases, or new expenses for benefits etc. (Department of Finance figures p. 35).  After two additional years of the proposed 4 percent general fund increase, UC's general fund will be around $2.86B, still below 2010-11, the last year before Gov. Brown took office and cut UC and CSU $750M each.  In practice, less than that will flow to UC campus operations: see my discussion of the Regents' November budget for an explanation).

At that November Regents meeting, UC Executive Vice President for Business Operations Nathan Bostrom summarized the problem, with Jerry Brown in attendance.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Click here for a full rush transcript of the event called "Rebooting California Higher Education last week.  Many thanks to Jenna Joo of UCSB's School of Education for the enormous amount of work that went into its preparation.
The transcript was prepared for the Online Study Group,  funded by UC's systemwide Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) to conduct a study called  "Disruption or Decline?: The Impacts of Online Higher Education on Minority-Majority California."

Analyses of the event include that of Bob Samuels, a participant from UC ("A Failure of Interaction,"), Jeff Selingo, editor-at-large at the Chronicle of Higher Education ("Finally a Path Toward Solutions to the Crisis in Higher Ed,"Audrey Watters at Hack Education (and her storyfied tweets).  I'll add later to the list of coverage.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

University Librarian, UC Santa Cruz, 1966. Photo by Ansel Adams.
By Ann Bermingham (UCSB) and Catherine Cole (UCB)

For the first time in nearly twenty years, an all-UC faculty discussion took place on the future of the public university system in California. Defying present discourses of short-term gain, crises, and austerity, participants from all ten campuses in the University of California system who met at UC Santa Barbara last February were asked to take a long view and to design the kind of University that they believe will meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The meeting’s basic premise, that “education is a public good, not a private benefit” and that it should be “treated as a resource, not a commodity,” may not seem radical, but  it is. Recent years have seen a breathtaking public divestment in higher education that has been accompanied by a widespread rhetorical shift—often arising from university governance boards dominated by the corporate sector—that reframes education as a private benefit and personal investment. The Santa Barbara meeting was an attempt to counter this discourse by reengaging faculty in planning for one of the state’s greatest public resource—the UC.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Photo from "UC Online Courses Fail to Lure Outsiders," San Francicso Chronicle.

UCLA's "Reboot" with MOOCs extravaganza begins right about now.  Here are a few questions I'd like to see answered.

1. Whether for-profit or not (e.g. Coursera vs. Udacity), offering free online courses generates no revenue.  10*0 = 500*0 = 2,700,000*0 = 0.  There's great politics here but not a business model.  What are your core revenue sources?

2. A recent piece in the New York Times suggests that Coursera's main revenues now come from click-through sales of college products and selling information about test results to potential employers. Is this correct?

3. Assuming (1) and (2) don't financially support the massive, open teaching operation you envision--or won't attract investors looking for multiples on their capital--is your main revenue plan to provide online courses to existing universities for their enrolled students?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013
Photo: Granada parking lot, Santa Barbara, CA.

By 6 am this Sunday morning a neon sign was blinking silently inside my head. It flashed MOOC, MOOC, MOOC, MOOC.  The house was dark and the sun nowhere to be seen, but I got up to see who left the sign on.

Most people now associate MOOCs with Udacity, Coursera, edX, and the other newborns of the Year of the MOOC.  Given where I work, I associate them with the proposal for the "cybercampus," or "11th campus" of the University of California, first floated during the Furlough Summer of 2009.  Two weeks before the watershed Regents meeting on the furlough vote and the new president's emergency powers, Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley wrote an editorial in the Los Angeles Times that presented online education as a way of using technology to make up for budget cuts.  The false implication was that we could get around Arnold Schwarzenegger's abrogation of the Compact and his 20% cuts to state funding by replacing a lot of teachers with technology.  This is the core of the MOOC vision that created UC Online Education out of the Commission on the Future process, which sputtered along and how now been decisively bypassed by the three big entrants mentioned above and other smaller ones--bypassed for market share, that is, in the market for individual college-level courses, which is in fact not the university's market.

Elsewhere in his July 2009 article, Dean Edley stated the core problem perfectly:
Five years ago, when I became dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, I worried that California leaders were no longer committed to having a world-class university, especially law schools. Nowhere is it decreed that a state must challenge the best private universities, though California was proudly unique in that regard. But a generation of stingy state investment suggests that the goal of "world-class K-16 education for all" has become, simply, "better than Mississippi."
True. But creating a UC cybercampus, say a UCOL, is not the alternative to California higher ed's reversion to the norm.  It is that reversion to the norm. It is a reversion to mediocrity--or so we must assume without actual evidence that online is educationally equivalent to intensive learning.

Fast forward to November 2012, after a year of another 25% cut to UC's general fund revenues and a non-cut year thanks to the successful resolution of the hostage crisis known as Proposition 30.   Gov Jerry Brown went to a Regents meeting that month to revive this 2009 solution to an educational crisis that he will neither define correctly nor fix honestly.  Which brings me back to my title and the question, why won't he?