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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

August 17th was new UC President Michael V. Drake's first day of work (red gown at left, at CSU Dominguez Hills).  He picked a hard time to start the job. But the Board of Regents has made it harder by pushing the president and the faculty out of the search for the campus chancellors.  The Board did this to the University's first Black president in the name of diversity.

Lack of diversity was the lead reason the Board of Regents (BoR) gave for rushing through changes in the selection process.  Both staff and faculty (especially tenure-track faculty) do need to be more diverse at UC.  But the Regent-commissioned report didn't  analyze applicant pools and hires to show racial disparity or anything else.  They would have had to offer evidence of systemic bias, since, in terms of outcomes, President Janet Napolitano (2013-2020) has a reasonably good diversity record with her 6 chancellor hires.  She brought on board two white men, Sam Hawgood (San Francisco, 2014) and Howard Gillman (Irvine, 2014), both promoted from within the campus, an African American man, Gary S. May (Davis, 2017), two white women, Carol Christ (Berkeley, 2017, from the campus) and Cynthia K. Larive (Santa Cruz, 2019), and a Latino man, Juan Sánchez Muñoz (Merced, 2020).  The 3 external hires were a Black man, a white woman, and a Latino.  First glance suggests that the easiest way to cut the white majority is not to hire from within.  

The Regents proposed a much more dramatic solution: a set of new search rules that overshadowed all other issues at their July meeting, including Covid infections and costs and the possible 12-16% revenue losses in 2020-21 that I discussed last time.  A review of the case suggests that a lack of chancellor diversity was not the main motivation.

In November 2019, Board Chair John Pérez convened a Regents Working Group on Chancellor Search and Selection. It produced the report, which does note the opportunity to "underscore how UC can better integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion practices into its chancellor search and selection process." But first came this:

While over the years, the Regents have delegated authority for many of the operations of the University to the President, appointing chancellors remains one of the most important responsibilities, which the Board has reserved unto itself.1 This reservation of authority requires particular attention and dedication by Regents with respect to the appointment of chancellors— the specific process which is set forth in Regents Policy 7102. (1)

Footnote 1 cites Bylaws 22.2 and 31.  Bylaw 22.2 sets out specific reservations of regental authority, and is a series of unilateral approval rights.  Bylaw 31 states that chancellors "are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Board," with the president advising and consulting on appointments without appointment power.  It also defines the chancellor as a direct subordinate of the Board as well as the president--as someone who can be line-managed by the Board. 

The Board's main motivation for the review appears to have been to increase its direct power over appointing chancellors.  The two discussions of the items were fraught, with both the Senate and the current UC President objecting to the changes and asking for further discussion. In the end the changes sailed through. 

First, the changes. The Board's Governance Committee Agenda for July 29th had three items on this matter, in which the acceptance of the Working Group Report would lead to immediate changes in the search policy, Regents' Policy 7102.  You can see the modifications here.   The new and approved clean copy is here.   The key changes are: 

  1. Though the Board of Regents always appointed chancellors, candidates were identified and a finalist proposed to the Board by a "Committee." Now, this body is a "search advisory committee," with its powers identified as advisory only.
  2. The president was the lead on running the search.  Now, "the Board and the President each has a role"--they are co-managers of the search process.
  3. The five faculty members of the Committee were appointed by the Academic Senate.  Other groups selected and sent their representatives. Now, the chair(s) of the search advisory committee will select members from a slate of three for each position.
  4. The Committee membership was constituted by the process of submitting names, not subject to further adjudication (I assume).  Now, the president meets only with the regental members prior to retaining a search firm or any committee meeting to insure a "strong balance" on the committee.
  5. The five faculty members of the Committee were responsible for reviewing candidates and submitting names to the full committee, "working with the president."  Now, this reviewing is done by an outside search firm.
  6. The Committee deliberated the virtues of the long and short lists submitted by the faculty reviewers.  Now, the lists prepared by the outside search firm are discussed by the president and the regental members of the committee.
  7. The Committee came to a conclusion about the final candidate(s) together, through some (unspecified )process; the president would then communicate the nomination to the Board of Regents for approval. Now, only the regental members of the search advisory committee will vote amongst themselves on the name to be forwarded to the full Board of Regents.

In short, the chancellor search will be run by an outside search firm hired by the Regents and the Regent members of the search advisory committee. Only Regents will vote on the committee, and the result will be handed from the Regent members to the full Board. The president has been removed as lead authority in the search, and the faculty have been removed from the review process.  Faculty can submit nominations to the committee, just like anyone else.

Ironically, the actual search issue this year was not faculty having too much influence over administrative hires but having no influence at all.  During the search for the new president that led to Michael Drake-- the Regents completely excluded the faculty advisory body from contact with the applications or any of the candidates. The Senate Chair has in the past functioned as a member of the Special Committee; after an initial meeting, she was never allowed back. The Academic Assembly formally protested in a February Resolution, when the problem could have been fixed.  The Academic Council also protested in a July letter dated the day before the discussion of the chancellor search items. It objected to the refusal of the Regents even to acknowledge receipt of formal requests to be consulted. The new chancellor's search process will make them more like presidential searches, which in the current case meant the near-total bypassing of the faculty. 

The Senate response to the Working Group's search changes was strongly negative.  Before the letter I just mentioned, on July 23rd, the Academic Council wrote to the president to say that the "lack of inclusion" of faculty from the Report's interviews had skewed the results, and that it offered no justification for marginalizing faculty expertise about and personal commitment to their campus. It also stated that research university faculty members have special knowledge of what it takes to run a research university and asked that the new rules be delayed for further consultation, including consultation with President Drake.

The next Senate response was the bombshell, a letter signed by 20 former chairs of the Academic Senate, including virtually every head of the Senate for the past quarter century.  Though I've often wished for it, especially for demanding the Regents improve their generally poor job of maintaining UC revenues, I've never seen this kind of united Senate front before. The chairs' letter rejected the implication that "the UC faculty have been an impediment to the diversification of the University," pointedly contrasting the Senate's longstanding defense of affirmative action with the BoR's overturning of it in 1995, from which Underrepresented Minority (URM) student representation has never fully recovered. The letter defined the process of the recommendations as "not in keeping with the best practices of our University" in having excluded faculty from the Working Group and the Senate from meaningful prior review.  In addition, the former Senate chairs criticized the demotion of the president in the chancellor's search.

[T]he proposed Section 6 of the policy . . . would require the President to meet privately with only the regental members of the search committee, and then seek their approval of the President's choice prior to submission for approval by the full board.  The effect of this change is to fundamentally undercut the authority of the President in selecting Chancellors.

This critique of the Regents on both process and substance was the basis of a Los Angeles Times article by Teresa Watanabe. Many Regents, including the Board chair, first read about the 20 Chairs' retort in the newspaper, and they were riled before the discussion began.

There were two discussions of the search process changes during the meetings , first on July 29th (here) and then July 30th (starting at 2'09" here). The Working Group report was defended by Regent Lark Park, the WG chair, and by several of its other members.  I watched both discussions on line, and didn't hear anyone identify a clear operational problem to which the changes were a solution.  Park said the point was to be "more efficient, accountable, and inclusive" (2'04").  No one objected to this goal,  but there were questions about how these changes accomplish that? A few Regents expressed frustration with getting only one finalist  at the end of the search on which they were asked to do an up-or-down vote. But there were other, simpler ways to address this understandable concern. For example, the Committee could meet with the BoR while the process is ongoing, or the President could write reports to the Board chair every 2 weeks, or the Committee could submit a short list of 3 final candidates to the full Board instead of just one (as will now be done for Committee selection). None of these would require pushing the faculty or the President out of the process, as these changes do.  

The outgoing President didn't support the changes. Janet Napolitano noted there's "the question of what the problem is that we're trying to fix here" (2'41").  She said the Working Group could try to reduce their differences with the faculty and also said that "it would be useful to consult with President Drake." She noted that while most of the changes are "not necessarily objectionable," that one is a change to the president's power and the other is change to the faculty power. She said to the Board that her preference was that they "receive the report" at that meeting and engage in "greater consultation" with the faculty. They should "then consult with President Drake. I think that would be very respectful of him "(2'43"). 

Here the President offered the Regents accurate definitions of both respect -- consultation and discussion prior to a decision--and of shared governance, in which the process treats the views of all parties subject to equal treatment.  The sharing of governance requires what we can call epistemic parity, in which one set of views cannot simply negate the other, but must seek some kind of mutual understanding if not reconciliation.  In the previous process for selecting a UC campus chancellor, the sharing took place during the review and consultation process, after which the BoR hd full decision rights.

The expression of regental views went on for quite a while. A handful of Regents, including immediate past chair George Kieffer, acknowledged the deep dissastisfaction of the faculty and the clear non-support of the president, and said these were reasons enough to delay the vote until further consultation had amended views (3'08").  They were in effect speaking for shared governance's underlying principle of treating the epistemic positions of each party as valid, requiring further efforts at accommodation.

A bit later Board Chair Pérez asked Regent Park a narrower question-- whether she had in fact not shown the document to the Senate leadership in time for the Senate to deliberate and opine. She said there had been a meeting with the chair and vice-chair, and they had noted they needed to consult with the Council, which then produced the negative letter linked above.  Park then responded to the general concerns (starting 3'23").

I will just go back to this Chancellor appointment being the purview, responsibility, and duty of the Board members and the Board members alone in ultimate approval, and that is why Regent search committee members are treated differently in the proposed amendments to Policy 7102.  With regard to . . . the letter signed by many academic chairs. I was at some level astonished to receive that letter. I felt that the letter was not respectful, or did not acknowledge the purview of the Board, and the many Bylaws and Standing Orders that currently exist that show exactly who reports to whom, what has been delegated to whom, and what responsibility lies where.  22.1, 22.2, 30, 31 of the Bylaws all speak to this. Standing Orders 100.1, 100.4 clearly lay out the responsibility. . .  This idea that the Board does not have this prerogative is frankly surprising in terms of coming from past members of academic leadership in that acknowledgement, and seemed to suggest that the Chancellors function more as political appointees of the President, and again that if they're not picked by a president they cannot be loyal.  I find that not credible, and contrary to all the policies and bylaws that I have seen. Not to mention that upon that logic, none of these chancellors today could be loyal or follow the direction of our new President because he did not have a hand in picking them. So that to me is a fear that can be quickly dispelled by taking a more vigorous look at the existing Bylaws and Standing Orders. 

I really welcome the wisdom of our new president in a great many things. But I will take today as a case in point for not delaying further action. 

Park said that we've had a lot of discussions already and that to say "we should spend a great deal more time on these recommendations " would suggest that the Board cannot do  time and process management, and "then as a Board we cannot govern if we literally tie ourselves up in endless discussion." She was totally opposed to further consultation. She added, 

This is not an attack on shared governance. Truly it is not.  Faculty are the lifeblood of the university. That will not change with these recommendations. . . . And I would really love to see 24 [sic] academic senate leaders come together to opine on things that are deeply concerning and weighty to the institution--rather than whether shared governance has been quite respected enough in these modest recommendations.

There are several issues here. First, Regent Park missed the point of the Past Chairs letter.  It did not challenge the Board of Regents' appointment authority, but disputed the plan to end the shared procedures that had traditionally led up to the exercise of that authority.  

Second, Park read disagreement as an attack on regental authority. 

Third, her response to that perceived attack was to reassert that regental authority-- as unilateral. 

Fourth, she told President Drake that approving her recommendations was more important than getting his "wisdom."

Fifth, she denied Academic Senate's clam that this was an attack on shared governance by asserting that it wasn't. 

The full Board did indeed respond to Park's call to power.  Few explicitly echoed Park's claim that the point of the changes was to give the Regents full unilateral control.  Many instead told the faculty that they didn't want what they said they wanted, or that not having it didn't matter like they thought.  Regent Leib specialized in this Orwellian discourse, telling faculty that the Report was a "gift" to them because it meant they wouldn't have to do so much work. The discussion was often patronizing and dismissive, and oblivious to common sense basics of sharing and collaboration.  Regents like Lansing and Leib didn't want the faculty to feel bad, or think they were part of doing a bad thing to them. But they and nearly all of the rest of the BoR voted not to wait to give either the faculty or President Drake reason not to feel bad.  

Obviously nobody is going to die from all this, but the Regents' report, discussion, and vote were a textbook case of epistemic injustice, resting on the five features above.  This happens when the more powerful side tells the other that their concerns are wrong, that they need not be considered further, and that they comprise an attack on legitimate authority. 

Let me finish by widening the picture a bit.  Faculty, staff, and most campus administrators have no power over major University decisions of top management appointments, budget policy, layoffs and furloughs, system health and safety regulations, and the like.  But they do have clear jobs to do on their campuses. The function of governing boards is not so clear. What, today, is their value-added to the overall institution?  

University governing boards were justified in earlier centuries as a kind of natural aristocracy: the better people had a monopoly on wisdom, and board membership were drawn exclusively from them.  Few now espouse this kind of social Darwinist view of concentrated intelligence.  In addition, today's universities are enormously complex. The needed intelligence is widely distributed.  Experiences and needs are quite diverse. Front-line contact is more valuable than ever. The intelligence that solves problems must be integrated from a range of quarters. In this context, boards of trustees or regents are archaic forms.  The unilateral authority affirmed by Regent Park is this form at its most archaic point. 

Board members almost always lack university expertise, so that members of the campus community cannot be heard to say to each other, "How can we keep UCPath from ruining our lives? Regent N might be able to help us."  Or, "How do we reduce houselessness among formerly incarcerated students? Let's call Regent Q: she knows a ton about this, and would be glad to listen."  I have never heard a comment like this. Campuses and their many units feel entirely on their own;  the BoR is treated as a ruler, distant and adversarial, to be managed and dodged but not consulted for special insight.  The stereotype is that they are most concerned with (1) implementing the views of external powers in business and politics; and (2) exercising their own rights and powers.  

Unfortunately, Regent Park fulfilled this stereotype.  The Board, faced with a choice between power and consultation, sided with power.  Personally, I would love to bring to bear the achievements and capabilities of Regents in their own domains. I would love to see them exercise their sophistication and influence to protect the university from political interference and financial damage. Such Regents would be outward facing. Their internal gaze would focus mostly on managerial competence--on helping the senior managers serve the increasingly beset employees of the institution.  In the three domains of politics, management, and finance, such Regents would be especially focused on the third. They would insure financial vitality--they would protect and increase core revenues as necessary. 

Good trustees--like good professors, physicians, presidents, landscapers, cooks, civil engineers, parents-- don't push their authority beyond the limits of their competence. Power beyond knowledge is the great American temptation: U.S. organizations are top-down and prone to chains of command. University governing boards are generally granted quasi-monarchial sovereignty, as is UC's. The structure is inherently and deliberately anti-democratic. It is not justifiable on grounds of standard political theory. Elizabeth Anderson's book Private Government is a good analysis of the anomaly of governing authorities that have "arbitrary and unaccountable power over workers" in a putatively democratic society. Still, though lacking in political justification, unilateral power might have operational claims: Power can be earned by operational effectiveness.  But, as we have been forced to note repeatedly on this blog, the operational achievements of the UC Regents are rather modest.  Instead of addressing this problem by, for example, spending all of one day on the buried budget crisis, the Regents made themselves less accountable to faculty and to the president--the clear purpose of Regent Park's Working Group.  

As the Regents succeed at greater power and distance, epistemological bubbles will form around them, and consultants--who report to them and are unlikely to challenge them--will replace people in touch with real conditions on the ground. UC's split between Oakland's Office of the President and the campuses will continue to make this worse with a structural gulf that can be crossed only with consistent and accurate communication, and that has been undermined here by the regents own action. To be accurate, this communication must be between parties with relatively equal standing.  Exchange between superior and inferior is distorted by the inferior's need for self-protection, and the superior's entitlement and self-overestimation. I can't go into this here.  To summarize in a formula, epistemic inequality insures error.  When the Board turned a collaborative committee into a two-tier set up with superdelegate privileges for its Regents, they insured the intellectual distortions that no one actually wants.

One final note: governing boards all over the country, like UCs, have gradually come to regard the faculty as a problem for university success.  There are many sources and causes for this, but the result is default prejudice against faculty as people who just defend their privileges rather than the interests of education or university.  I must call this managerial bigotry against professionals. It is categorical, uninformed, and wrong.  UC will never move forward until its Board, including its Jerry Brown Bloc, and its allies can work through their anti-faculty prejudice and make use of their deep expertise, always freely given.  For example, each of UC's 10 campuses has some of the world's most respected scholars of race and ethnicity, who would bend over backwards to help increase educational justice and diversity.  

The saddest moments in the regental discussion on July 30th were when outgoing president Napolitano asked the Board, at least twice, not to decide the new president's role in chancellor searches before President Drake arrived. It would have meant waiting 3 weeks.  The Regents couldn't wait, and so the outcome of her last meeting as president was the triumphant affirmation of Bylaws 22.1, 22.2, 30, 31, and Standing Orders 100.1 and 100.4.

I wish President Drake the very best in his new role. I'm very sorry the Regents cut his power over  chancellor's searches.


Photo Credit: Los Angeles Sentinel (Michael Drake at the investiture of  CSU Dominguez Hills President Thomas A Parham)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020
That may be my worst title ever but it's an important point.  So here we go. 

Where are university budgets near the end of our bad policy summer?  In a bad place -- a worse place than seemed likely during the weeks of activist government from mid-March to mid-May. In this post, I'll discuss the national issue, describe a flawed university budget discourse that makes universities more vulnerable, and link this to the failure of today's mainstream Democrats to accept the economic role of government.

The federal CARES Act was signed on March 27th, and sent universities $14 billion of the $46.6 billion they'd requested (with half of that going directly to students). Having gotten 1/6th of their stated need, higher ed advocates placed their hopes in a follow-up HEROES Act passed the House on May 15th, which Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, sat on throughout the summer.  Thus the nation's schools and colleges planned for fall in a state of deep uncertainty and growing dread.

This past weekend, POTUS signed executive orders (mostly "memoranda") mandating supplemental unemployment benefits at $300 rather than CARES's $600 per week, with another $100 to come from the states. He extended student loan forbearance from September 30 to the end of the year.  Even if these orders go into effect, there are no provisions for supplemental funding for education at any level, including nothing for the K-12 systems that POTUS and his Department of Education secretary have been trying to bully into opening.  If the states are forced to pay part of the federal unemployment supplement, which some say they can't, that will mean even bigger state cuts to education.

The American Council on Education has a helpful summary of the current situation:

There are technically three bills under discussion in the COVID-19 emergency aid negotiations. The first bill is the HEROES Act written by House Democrats and approved by the full House two months ago. The second is the HEALS Act, which represents the ideas of Senate Republicans and the White House. Finally, the Coronavirus Childcare and Education Relief Act (CCCERA) is legislation introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) that reflects Senate Democrats' ideas about education spending in response to the pandemic. . . . The bills all include emergency aid for students and institutions, but the levels of funding proposed differ greatly. ACE has estimated that institutions have a total of $46.6 billion in increased student financial need and lost revenues, and will spend at least $73.8 billion on new expenditures to reopen in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. While CCCERA provides a total of $132 billion to meet these needs, the $37 billion provided for higher education in HEROES and the $29 billion provided in HEALS fall far short. 

The federal bill that comes closest to meeting actual higher ed need--at $132 billion--has no chance of passing McConnell's Senate.

Republican control of key governing bodies has artificially induced massive state failure in suppressing SARS-CoV-2.  The U.S. has the worst Covid-19 suppression record in the wealthy world, and, by failing to build public health infrastructure (see Jeneen Interlandi's superb overview), will continue to inflict massive suffering, disparately along lines of race and class, in all of the areas where common life should offer equal treatment, including education.  The failure of public infrastructure is damaging the private economy that Republican-driven premature opening was trying to protect. Republican opposition to a new stimulus increases the odds of a new depression (see Hiltzik and Krugman for summaries). 

Operating on this familiar political landscape, it's hard for people to maintain transformative ambition.  I sketched one version at the end of April ("Our Converging Crises III"), which involved massive public spending for full Covid-19 suppression, full employment, and educational experimentation. The American self-conception is of a nation that leads the world into a better future. The reality, given our decrepit social infrastructure, is a vast majority focused entirely on getting by. 

The Real Covid Budget Crisis

The same is true in higher education. There's been no follow-up on the early burst of federal effort,  and higher ed is engaged in a new round of austerity, translated as operations cuts, layoffs, and program downsizing. The Cal State system threw in the towel early, announcing on May 12th that it would be all-online.  This was at a time when most administrations assumed Covid-19 would be well in hand by fall; Cal State's Chancellor Timothy White could see pretty clearly that they didn't have the extra billion they needed for testing, tracing, isolating, cleaning, tent classrooms, and the rest. Since then, reopening plans have gone into full reverse, including at wealthy private institutions like Princeton and Johns Hopkins whose core value is small-scale face-to-face learning.  

University of California campuses are quietly joining Cal State's closures on a case-by-case basis.  Berkeley announced all-online on July 21st.  The other semester campus, UC Merced, will open August 26th with an unspecified ratio of remote and in-person. Among quarter campuses, which start a month later, UCLA has dropped its in-person proportion from the 15-20% announced in June to 8%.  UCSB hasn't officially updated its mid-June description of fall quarter as "some face-to-face," but is heading toward basically closed. UC Irvine is keeping its students in the "most classes will start remotely" twilight zone.  All sorts of intensive planning is going on behind the scenes.  And so are planning for budget cuts when UC needs that same extra billion that Cal State needed to open safely.

Although dominated by liberal Democrats, the California state legislature put stable CSU and UC funding in the hands of Mitch McConnell at at time when he was already holding it hostage.  In the final state budget, UC will get a 5% increase over 2019-20 if and only if California gets $14 billion in federal stimulus.  If there's no stimulus, UC gets what UCOP calls an 8% cut from 2019-20.  

In addition, the permanent state budget is cut either way: the federal stimulus money will be treated as a one-time backfill on the state cut.  Even that was a bizarre combination of "augmentations totaling $212.9 million and reductions totaling $471.6 million." Rather than offering higher ed affirmation and stability during the pandemic, the legislature provided a changing combination of cuts and increases that, without an unlikely Senate backfill, gives UC and CSU a major cut.

How big a cut, actually?  The legislature reduced the state allocation for UC from $3.938 billion in 2019-20 to $3.466 billion in 2020-21.   This is a year-on-year reduction of 12.2%.  Its a Covid cut of a size that a red-state legislature could brag about.

It's worth remembering all the way back to November 2019, when The Regents requested an increase of $422.1M in overall state funding, which would have brought state general funding to $4.360B (see the slide here minus $25M for the Riverside School of Medicine).  Annual base cost increases at UC are a bit more than 5%, and since that's 5% on less than half the revenues of the core budget, which comes mostly from (long-frozen) tuition, 5% state increases put core funding further behind.  Campuses have tirelessly tried all sorts of revenue workarounds, mostly involving overenrollment coupled with non-resident student growth, but it hasn't worked. (For the resulting long-term austerity, see "Three Essential Charts"). On top of its rather brutalist history, the California legislature now proposes to cut UC by $903.5M from its November request--barring a McConnell conversion like Saul's on the road to Damascus. The is a cut of 20.7% from the Regents's November request.  

Remember too that even had that $903.5 million November increase been enacted, many campuses were projecting deficits in 2020-21 or the following year. That was not a luxury budget. To repeat: becasue of prior cuts by Govs. Schwarzenegger and Brown, years of tuition freezes, and sub-inflation state growth, the non-miracle state budget cut that now looks likely is a 20.7% cut from pre-Covid's home for UC semi-solvency.

This would be a disaster for UC (and CSU). And it's likely enough to be treated explicitly in plans for both budgeting and the University's political engagements.

Budget Idealism at the UC Regents

This brings is to the July 30th UC Regents meeting. The Regents have absolute authority over budgeting, revenue strategies like borrowing, as well as political advocacy. If alerted to a budgetary emergency, the Regents might be expected to instruct UCOP to mount a massive siege of Sacramento and Washington D.C., pulling in their contacts in the tech community as well as in national politics.  But UCOP's budget presentation (see the July 30 afternoon session at the bottom of this page), rather than rallying the Regents, kept the real dangers behind the curtain. And Regental behavior encouraged this concealment. 

UCOP presented the budget as in basically good shape.  Medical losses for March-June 2020 are $1.7 billon rather than the earlier projection of $2.8 billion.  UC Health VP Carrie Byington had already suggested that the med centers have learned so much about Covid treatment that they won't repeat spring's revenue losses during the current and future infection spikes. 

Undergrad enrollments are "looking very strong," in the words of associate budget VP David Alcocer (11'47"). He said the same was true of international enrollments, in spite of a very turbulent policy picture on top of Covid travel problems.  He basically claimed that enrollment targets would be hit no matter what. I'm also a bit of an optimist on enrollments because I'm a pessimist on the economy: even remote-college looks good compared to a nonexistent job market.  Polling data suggest we're both wrong, and that colleges should expect a growing enrollment melt.

The presentation noted that housing and dining revenues will be down, but UCOP did not quantify or tie these to different durations of Covid-related reductions. A bit later, UCLA chancellor Block offered some campus numbers, and in later questions a couple of Regents clarified that only single rooms will be offered in the fall, though without revenue numbers for system losses. New VP for Research and Innovation, Teresa Maldonado, gave a candid appraisal of major disruption to research, UC's distinguishing educational activity. She was particularly direct on the damage to women and early-career researchers. But this remained a matter of delayed research progress more than a fiscal crisis.

The presentation of the state budget was a delicate matter (starting around 7'40"; I'm not following UCOP slide order). Alcocer explained the numbers in the slide below (they are different from my calculations above). He noted that the final July budget has a better upside than the May Revise and a smaller potential downside. 

He then went on to explain his right-hand column. He noted that "there's a lot of uncertainty here" because the range of outcomes is nearly half a billion dollars, or 5% of the core budget (9'20").  I can attest that the  uncertainty has created in campus planning a somewhat toxic mixture of paralysis, wishful thinking, gloom, and fatalism about cuts. Uncertainty is actually encouraging austerity by making the early stages seem very mild.  

But Alcocer's statement about uncertainty incurred an interruption from Chair John Pérez, who said, 

I just want to push back on the way we characterize this uncertainty. And here's why. The way this reads to me, in simple terms, is "uncertainty is bad, and smaller uncertainty is better than greater uncertainty." When in fact the final budget, in both the worst-case scenario and the best-case scenario, are better for the University, than the May Revise. . .  "Uncertainty" is inherently a bad term, so if we want to look at "range"--some other way to characterize it--because we don't want a negative connotation to the spread we see in the final budget, when in fact it serves us better than the May Revise does."

This intervention forced Alcocer to repeat what he had said two minutes before, which was that the upside was better in July than in May. It suggested to me that Pérez has no idea how uncertainty is weakening the campuses. It also suggested that he would not tolerate university officials criticizing the state legislature in even a polite and indirect way. Any campaign to get a reliably flat budget from the state (not conditioned on McConnell's conversion to St. Mitch), or an increased budget that could cover Covid costs, would never get off the drawing board under Pérez.

The misty aura of fiscal stability was punctured only by Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ, who projected a $340M deficit through fiscal 2021 (or more than ten percent of the campus's $3 billion or so in annual revenues).  She read a version of her administration's July 15th statement, and stressed the dependence of the campus on tuition and state revenues. She stated that the latter were $100M below their 2008 level even though the campus enrolls 8200 more students today.  

If the Regents had paused to take that in, they'd get a glimpse of the system's deep structural woes. Berkeley is historically wealthier per student than any campus except UCLA, so a responsible Board might wonder what its woes say about the rest of the system.  This was the only time in living memory that a Berkeley chancellor has said point blank that privatization doesn't work and thus we need good state support. Actually Christ didn't say that, but she came closer than ever before to noting that the problem isn't just Covid but a flawed business model in which the University has let state funding massively decline.

Later, as Alcocer was about to move to UCLA chancellor Block for a campus view of losses in auxiliaries, Board chair Pérez interrupted to complain about how long the budget presentations were taking.  "This was identified as a thirty minute discussion. . . . when an item is 30 minutes, the presentation is no more than half of that. We've now exceeded 35 minutes, before we've gotten a single Regent engaged in discussion." (32'30"). The obvious remedy would be to allocate more than a half-hour to analyzing what may be most important fiscal crisis in the University's history.  The time overrun was entirely due to letting three chancellors say a few words about their campus finances outside of the UCOP PowerPoint story.  Things got even more rushed after that--and even more superficial.  

In questions, terribly delayed to minute 38, Regent Makarichian performed his solo role of asking for budget numbers, and guessed at overall losses by adding some numbers in his head.  Pérez instructed CFO Brostrom to have those figures in the September meeting. I know Brostrom had versions he could have produced then, but who would dare try the Pérezian patience by pulling up another slide?  

In the meantime, UC is covering its losses with borrowing. It floated a bond for $2.8 billion in July, with $1.5 billion in "working capital" and the rest for capital projects. (UC debt has doubled in a decade from around $10 billion in 2009-10  to $24.6 billion in 2018-19). The budget discussion ended with a hopeful wait-and-see good-case scenario which, as I've said, is translated on the campuses as cuts.  

A Plausible Scenario for 2020-21

The Office of the President and the campuses are all doing projections, so I'm going to adjust some internal UC numbers to draft a plausible negative scenario.  This is not a good case, but it's not a worst-case: for example, I optimistically assume that students who can enroll do enroll, and that all are willing to pay full tuition for mostly remote instruction.  The nicer scenarios assume a return to mostly-normal after the fall term. Based on our country's failed-state approach to Covid suppression, I assume that full fall impacts last through the end of Spring 2021.  I use the governor's January budget as a base for state funding, which was $220M less than the Regents' November budget.

The assumptions:

  • Tuition: full undergraduate enrollment.  Though 75% of admitted international students do not enroll, many are replaced by domestic non-resident and resident students. Waitlists and "appeal" lists are liberally used, maintaining overall totals.
  • Housing is converted to singles, and dining does not return to normal, costing campuses 70% of normal revenues.
  • Grad student enrollment. This falls 15%, slowing research, but it has little impact on revenues as campuses simply eliminate sections as necessary in remote courses, while canceled grad seminars free up some faculty to teach more undergraduates.
  • Research continues to be affected by outbreaks made worse by shortages of tracing and isolation programs.
  • Philanthropy is reduced by renewed turbulence in the markets, as is UC investment income.
  • Medical center and clinical revenues recover from spring 2020 levels but don't get back to normal.
  • The Republicans block higher ed stimulus funding in the Senate. Although the Democrats win back the Senate in November, President Biden wishes to govern from the center, and decides not to antagonize the 48 remaining Republicans by giving too much help to education.  Like public universities everywhere,UC goes to its lower permanent state funding base.
Here's a rough estimate of what this would look like by standard budget category.

Scenario B

Budget Category

Decline $Millions

Negative % Change

2020-21 Base

39,738

 

Student Tuition and Fees

     775

14

Auxiliary Enterprises

   1165

61

Research Contracts & Grants

     779

12

Philanthropy & Investment Income

     555

19

Medical Centers

  2279

15

Educational Activities (esp Clinical Rev)

    521

12

State General Fund Appropriation

    481

12

Total Losses

 6555

16.6

Projected 2020-21 UC Revenues

32,823

 

Scenario B is a decent guess at one possible program for 2020-21: 17% revenue declines for the UC system overall, and 12% or so for the educational core.  Cuts like these would cause major damage to teaching and research, and of course prevent meaningful Covid-19 suppression.  If two things happen, first, Covid illness persists for several years, as some medical officials predict, and second, U.S. politics allows economic decline, then UC, like other universities, will be permanently downgraded.

The Governance Problem

The Republicans are obviously the biggest problem, but so are Democrats and their governing boards.  The Republican donor base sees government as a potentially victorious competitor to business and finance in economic management (through equitable tax policy and regulation but also better social infrastructure and more productive investment).  Weak government has enabled today's "plutonomy." Republican politicians logically oppose programs that will make government useful, effective, and popular and thus empower their direct rival.

But Democrats are also a problem when they reject both strong and weak Keynesianism.  In the strong version, public agencies spend massively to reconstruct society on the principle of equal treatment. This would fund a Green New Deal in which, for example, some of our tens of millions of unemployed people would be paid by the government to insulate the country's housing stock, starting with those owned by low-income people. I pointed towards this kind of spending in an April post.  Let's call it democratic-socialist Keynesianism, Sanders and AOC-style.  

There's also weak Keynesianism, a very useful combination of FDR and LBJ, in which public agencies spend massive amounts to keep an unjust and unequal status quo economy from imploding.  That would include the common-sense goal of keeping the education sector from shedding employees into a non-functional economy by giving schools and colleges stable funding. It would include the UK policy--enacted by the Conservative government--of covering 80% of the salary of laid-off employees so they can be furloughed rather than fired.  

Mainstream Democrats don't exactly oppose this kind of thing. But they don't promote it as their bread and butter. They also don't clearly expose the urgent need for it, or encourage others to expose it. At times, liberal Democrats like John Pérez actively block the creation of a budgetary need for weak Keynesian spending by preventing the open declaration of a budgetary problem. 

The current UC Board of Regents is chaired by the former Democrat Speaker of the Assembly. It includes the Democrat Lt.Governor, the husband of California's senior U.S. senator, and several former or current members of two Democratic governors' immediate office. It also boasts several wealthy and prominent Hollywood liberals.  There is really no reason for this group not to activate itself in centrist Keynesian fashion. They would then create an urgent obligation on the part of the state to sustain its educational workforce, infrastructure, and student population, whose lives are currently set to be permanently damaged by the Covid depression. 

I don't understand the complacency that demands the current UC budgetary vagueness in which nothing is true and everything is possible, until the only possibility becomes austerity. It feels like proleptic excuse making--"we didn't fail to act, because we didn't know." I don't understand the lack of ambition, even the bare ambition to keep the rising generation whole. We can obviously do that, but it will take much clearer budget work at the level of senior management and governing boards.  It will take boards willing to support unprecedented mobilizations of political will for higher education, or at least willing not to block them,

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thursday, July 30, 2020

by Amie Campos, PhD Candidate, History 

Simeon Man, Associate Professor, History 

Rihan Yeh, Associate Professor, Anthropology 


On the morning of June 15th, approximately 200 Housing, Dining, and Hospitality workers at UC San Diego were given notices of “temporary layoffs.” Those who were at work that day were instructed by management to meet at a cafeteria, with a promise of free lunch. Citing a 90% drop in students on campus, management told the majority-Spanish-speaking workforce - via a management-appointed translator - that they would be laid off for the rest of the summer. They were handed some information, including a sheet on how to apply for unemployment, and dismissed with written assurances that they would be returned to their jobs in early September. Lunch, unsurprisingly, was never served.

This move came just two weeks after Chancellor Pradeep Khosla’s to the university community denouncing the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery — a message that included a promise of “doing what can be done within our institution to make sure everyone feels that they belong and that they matter.” This juxtaposition reveals the unwillingness of the university to put its money where its mouth is. It has chosen a path that leaves 200 workers and their families, from low-income communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, without income for at least 2 months.

In a public statement regarding this mass firing, the university characterized the layoffs as inevitable. We should not be misled into accepting this austerity narrative. AFSCME, the union representing the majority of the affected workers, released its research findings based on publicly-available UC financial statements on May 18th. This report showed that the UC system can leverage its vast resources and stellar credit standing to lead California’s economic recovery by maintaining employment for its 227,000 workers rather than pursuing cuts. UCOP has not refuted AFSCME’s claims about usable reserves. Further undermining the austerity narrative,

the university advertised temporary positions in dining services following the layoffs. At the May 20 Regents meeting on “Projected COVID-19 Impact on 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 Revenue,” UC’s Chief Financial Officer Paul Jenny also presented a variety of options for weathering the COVID-19 financial storm, including dipping into the endowment’s unrestricted funds and applying for low-interest federal loans through the CARES Act at different campuses.

Without evidence that the University will face financial hardship if it does not enact layoffs, UCSD affiliates should not accept the administration’s chosen course. Dining service workers have an average annual salary of $41,000 -- well below San Diego County’s Area Median Income (AMI). While significant for workers, a two-month layoff has a negligible effect on UCSD’s overall budget. Chancellor Khosla, whose gross salary in 2018 was $477,384, has taken just a 10% pay cut, and the University continues to employ over 600 people whose regular payexceeds $200,000.

UCSD’s treatment of its workers also exposes the dangerous assumptions and inequities embedded in its much-publicized “Return to Learn” program. The majority of laid-off workers have been working on campus on rotating shifts throughout the pandemic, serving students who could not leave and staff who could not work from home. Yet since the university began its ambitious pilot plan in May to test all students on campus prior to the official start of “Return to Learn” in the fall quarter, UCSD has not offered its workers ample opportunities for free testing, nor has it provided them with adequate PPE or regular COVID-related training. Many workers have had to take precautionary measures themselves, in the absence of clear protocols or guidelines from supervisors, and have for months been worried about being exposed to the virus on campus and bringing it home to their families. The university’s demonstrated disregard for the health and well-being of its essential workers underscores the view that they are disposable and not part of the “campus community” deemed worthy of protection. This casts further doubt that the university will ensure the safety of other campus workers including students, and faculty as the “Return to Learn” program ramps up.

The effects of these decisions will reinforce existing racial and gender inequalities at UCSD and fly in the face of ongoing organizing by students, faculty, and staff, who demand that administrators address the institution’s own anti-Black, anti-Latinx, and anti-Indigenous realities. A 15-page list of demands issued by the Black Student Union (BSU) on June 22nd, which objects to these layoffs and calls for the defunding of the campus police, is one important example. Another is an op-ed published on July 4th by United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS Local 94) titled “We Will Not ‘Return to Earn.’”

We reject the University’s plan to wait until early September to return laid-off workers to campus when they will have to scramble to meet the needs of arriving students. We view the plan as part of a flimsy and unethical strategy of UCSD administration hedging its bets to collect housing deposits from students who are promised a safe campus opening in the fall despite rapidly rising infection rates, while keeping labor costs down and reneging on its rehiring promise in the event that “Return to Learn” is unfeasible.

UCSD must reverse these layoffs, especially given Covid-19's trajectory and disproportionate impact on communities of color in San Diego. The close to 200 Housing and Dining workers and their families are invaluable members of the campus community and should be treated as such. UCSD is a major employer in the San Diego region that holds the livelihoods of many people in its hands. As a research institution, medical center, and major hospital, UCSD depends on labor provided by communities in San Diego, including low-income communities that have served as sites of clinical training, research, and experimentation for UCSD researchers. Reinstating these workers will be a small step in repairing the extractive relationships on which UCSD’s reputation as one of the nation’s top research institutions depend.

How you can support HDH workers: We call on the university to reverse the layoffs. In the meantime, donations can be made to UCSD Mutual Aid’s gofundme page in order to support workers facing financial difficulties. Chancellor Khosla’s office can be reached at 858-534-3135.

A Spanish language version of this piece is here

UCSD North Campus: Photo Credit  Erik Jepsen, Triton May 16, 2019

 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Monday, July 6, 2020
California is a state with nearly 40 million people (bigger than Canada and Poland, smaller than Algeria and Spain). It had a 2019 Gross State Product of around $3.2 trillion (bigger than India, Great Britain and France, smaller than Germany and Japan).  It has ten research universities with the letters "UC" in front of their place names. Each of those ten universities has a president, though the ten call this president a "chancellor."   Tomorrow, July 7th, the UC Board of Regents will announce their selection for UC president, a kind of president of presidents.  What functions might this new person perform  to avoid being superfluous, or worse, a conduit of oligarchic state policy into the university?

A few come to mind, moving from specific to general. The new president should:

1. Get separate state and federal funding for full Covid-19 mitigation. After two decades of austerity budgets, March-June 2020 losses of  $1.8 billion, and a likely 7 percent cut from the state legislature for 2020-21 (p 43), UC doesn't have the money to open campuses safely. Continuous testing alone could cost around $1 billion a year.  The many other needed changes  would pile costs on top of that.  UC campuses may eventually decide to put fall term (almost) entirely online (they will need to comply with today's ICE rule that international students in all-online programs cannot stay in the United States).  But they shouldn't have the program decision forced by sheer lack of funds for testing, tracing, isolating, and temporary facilities.  The new president will need to seek special Covid-19 funding for at least the two-year period 2020-22.

2. Undo top-down governance.  President Richard Atkinson (1995-2003) was not an organizational democrat, but UCOP rule-giving used to be balanced by new-program funding and distinctive UCOP expertise.  The latter was long ago duplicated on the campuses, and UCOP no longer supports growth or quality upgrades: the underdeveloped Merced campus is Exhibit A, the Riverside campus's medical facility is Exhibit B . . . UCOP never asks the state for enough money to cover the actual costs of combining full access with high quality. Several years of underfunded enrollment increases--the "surge" that President Napolitano negotiated with Jerry Brown and state government--caused serious damage to education on the campuses, but this news, which I and others still regularly try to convey in meetings with UCOP officials, has yet to be received.  Although they are removed from the everyday struggles of the campuses, UCOP monopolizes the University's public image as well as its governmental and financial policy.  Campuses spend quite a bit of time conveying basic information up the chain, with apparently limited success.  The next president will need to restore campus confidence in UCOP's ability to formulate policy that reflects campus needs, rather than trim campuses to fit state policy.

3. Fix the broken funding model.  In the coming years, the University of California needs to do a lot of things: increase racial diversity and equality of outcomes, expand STEM research, fully support social and cultural research, improve undergraduate learning, increase doctoral student pay to relieve rent burden, rebuild a deteriorating physical plant, reverse the adjuncting drift, and close employee pay gaps.  But UC doesn't have the money to do these things. The reason is that the half-privatized funding model doesn't work, and never did.  The only way to make up for low state funding is with massive, unacceptable tuition increases.  The only way to freeze or cut tuition is to increase public funding.  I've written volumes about this, with abundant data, but proof lies not only in the financial critique of privatization but in the policy of the privatizers themselves. The "compact" with UC and CSU devised by Arnold Schwarzenegger and his first finance director, Donna Arduin, cut state funding increases to 2-3 percent per year. But even they knew that neither UC nor CSU could live on that, so the compact required tuition increases of 7-10 percent per year.  Those folks didn't care about UC greatness, but they understood that if they held state funding growth to inflation then UC would need in-state tuition of around $20,000 by this year to keep the place afloat. Today, UC gets about 40 percent per student of its 2001-02 funding, had that kept up with enrollment and state income growth. The next president needs to rebuild the public funding model, not do extend and pretend with the current semi-privatized hybrid. This person will also need to explain that politicians who underfund  public universities are politicians who advance systemic racism.

4. Redefine university education around nonmonetary goals.  A college degree should lead to employment at good wages, but this is the only thing college presidents and politicians have been selling lately.   Economists and policymakers also fixatee on college's impact on upward mobility, which is another version of wage gains.  There are two problems with this.  First, private monetary effects are only a portion of higher ed's total effects, which are mostly social or nonmonetary or both. (Nonmonetary benefits include analytical skill, research findings, and dozens of others.)  So colleges hide most of their benefits behind a rhetorical invisibility cloak, and speak only of money all the time.  Second, the money payoff has never been more uncertain in the postwar era than it is today.  Net monetary gains have become harder and riskier as the cost of a degree goes up and automation and the gig economy chew into the white-collar vocations that seemed impregnable as recently as the 1990s.  Recall Robert Reich's "symbolic-analysts" inheriting the earth, then read Scott Timberg for a good overview of the 2010s in his book subtitled "the killing of the creative class."
The current economy weakens higher ed's financial arguments, but the next president should see this as an opportunity to take the PR eggs out of a shrinking basket, and educate everyone on the non-monetary and social benefits of universities.  The latter are more exciting and gratifying than wages alone, but more to the point, they are more durable in our post-knowledge economy in which universities are building a post-middle class.

Overall, I'm perhaps most sad about how hard it has been for UC folks to feel excited about and confident in the university's future.  Recent presidents have modeled a diminished realism, which has meant accepting less and learning the austerity mindset.  This is obviously at odds with the state and country's self-image as heroic leaders of technological and social progress, but who notices the contradiction anymore?  The Regents further demoralized the UC community by kicking everyone except themselves out of the search process, and making the selection of the next president an expression of their sole ownership of the University.  Then Covid-19 came along, and the immediate reflex was to start planning for cuts. With rare exceptions, administrators did not resist, even for a few days. It's obvious to me that the university, the state, and the country can only spend its way out of this crisis, and that we should spend massively on the things we want, like environmental sustainability, intellectual progress, and social justice. Universities should be central articulators of the solutions.  Do we have it in us? We've spent years just trying to hang on financially while ignoring the stupid slings and arrows politically.  Can we still go really big?  UC needs a president that wants a major role for universities in maximalist social reconstruction-- and will learn from the people of the university how to enable it.

UPDATE JULY 7: My first reaction to the widely-expected announcement that Michael Drake is coming back to UC as president is total relief.  He's an academic. He's an educator. He's a good administrator. He knows how UC works.  He will not require basic education--quite the opposite. He'll be the first president of color of a university whose student body is 27 percent white.   He is  certainly capable of doing the things listed above.

Two other things.  During the financial crisis of 2007-2011, when he was serving as Irvine's chancellor, he told the regents more of the truth about quality decline on campus than did any other officials. In March 2011, he told the Board that "faculty members now spend a great deal of time mitigating damage caused by cuts rather than building for the future. He described the situation of the University as one of slow decay rather than growth. Most effort is focused on protecting the educational path for students; innovation and growth are not being fostered."  He fudged it a bit, and said UC was going from A+ to A, but his statements of struggle and slow decline was a pointed heresy in a rigid, formulaic governing system. It got the regents to pay more attention to the chancellors.

On the other hand, Drake gave up on public funding in the 2000s. He may continue to think, as I wrote at the time, that "the budget shortfalls can be handled with regrettable but nonetheless manageable layoffs that have already taken place. The non-UC reader would think, well they’re tightening their belts and fixing their IT problems and we’ll end up with a UC that gets an A for only $2.5 billion in state funds. There is no screaming on our end that says no it cannot be this way and also no it need not be this way."

Michael Drake is an historic appointment--of a continuity candidate, in a time when continuity won't work, in the minimal sense of keeping UC solvent with an intact workforce.  If he is going to rebuild UC for the future, by doing those things listed above, he will need help and also pressure from faculty, staff, and students beyond anything that has been offered up before. Lots of work to do.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday, June 28, 2020
Answer: when students of color get access to and are included in a university that has become inferior to that built for whites.

This can happen across universities, or across campuses in a university system, or across disciplines on a campus, or across time in one university.  Victories for access don't take care of the problem of unequal educational treatment.

This isn't to belittle this month's access victories.

First, the University of California Board of Regents voted to phase out the SAT in admissions.  This will push UC and others towards the holistic, qualitative assessment of candidates that they should have been practicing since the Bakke decision of 1978.  It's true that the Academic Senate's report suggests this isn't a magic bullet for increasing the presence of underrepresented minority (URM) students. It's also true that the decision was not good for faculty governance (see John Douglass's new paper on both points). All I'll note here is that the SAT is not just a test. It's an ideology, one that has consistently and wrongly claimed that racial inclusion lowers academic quality.  Politicians have used SAT scores to make whites think that widening access victimizes them.  It has been a technology of racial resentment that has helped unmake the public university. (See chapters 3-7 in my book of that name for an extended discussion of the structural racism of what I called rank meritocracy, featuring 1990s Gov. Pete Wilson's use of SAT scores to induce the UC Regents to ban affirmative action.)  The SAT's suspension is a real victory for cross-racial access.

The same can be said of the temporary reprieve for the DACA program won by a UC lawsuit.  UC president Janet Napolitano and Board of Regents chair John Pérez noted that UC would continue to fight for full access to UC and to financial aid, legal services, and other support systems for undocumented students brought to the US as children.  
Such actions “expressed the desire of those of us in California to make sure that we expanded opportunity and worked towards broad-based immigration reform as well,” Pérez said.  And so I think it would be no surprise to anybody that this university is going to continue to commit itself to representing the interest of all our students."
This is another access victory, which universities will need to work to sustain.

And yet access raises the question, access to what? What is the university that Napolitano and Pérez, as those most responsible for UC's finances, offer access to?

In brief, they offer today's students access to an underfunded UC.  Today's increased proportion of undocumented, first generation, low-income, immigrant, and URM students have fewer educational and related resources than did the cohorts that came before.

I documented this in a recent post.  Even after today's students pay a multiple of the tuition paid by students twenty years ago, their UC of 2020 has sixty percent of the net per-student funding compared to that earlier UC.  I noted that Pérez, as Assembly Speaker, was a leading enforcer of this austerity.

But is this negative funding pattern a racial pattern? We can check by comparing the share of white students at UC to the share of state income the government allocates to the university. 

The state's politicians have defunded UC in the exact proportion of its decline in white student share.

This is not a coordinated intention, but it has happened anyway. White enrollment and funding go down hand in hand--except when funding goes down faster during major economic downturns. Republican and Democratic leaders give diverse UC less money than they gave a comparatively white UC. This is what racist inclusion looks like.

Higher ed funding expresses systemic racism, even as most members of college communities oppose it.  We've seen the national pattern of "separate but unequal" in which most new white students go to selective colleges while most new students of color go to open access colleges--which have less money and lower graduation rates. We've seen the UC campuses with higher shares of students of color get less funding from UCOP. ("Rebenching" did not fully fix this).  In our UC system case, we see California state leaders--including leaders of racialized, educationally underserved communities--coming up with excuses, year after year, to fund UC in inverse proportion to its diversity. 

One can be consciously anti-racist while supporting systemic racism.  This is a pattern in U.S. political life. The pattern is top-down austerity management for institutions devoted to racial equality and related forms of social justice.  While politicians of both major parties have deregulated and de-taxed the private sector, they have applied austerity to public institutions, which offer reduced quality of service to populations that are often minority-majority.

The historian Elizabeth Hinton recently outlined the longer-term pattern:
President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the role police brutality and socioeconomic inequality played in urban uprisings when he convened the Kerner Commission in 1967. Its report warned that if American political and economic institutions failed to commit resources “sufficient to make a dramatic, visible impact on life in the urban ghetto,” the nation would become increasingly divided along racial lines and plagued by inequality — a “spiral” of segregation, violence and police force.
Though the Kerner Commission and much subsequent research created "blueprints" for changing the “socioeconomic conditions that led to [George] Floyd’s premature death,” these research blueprints were never implemented.
The tragedy of the war on poverty is that the promise of grass-roots empowerment and representation was not sustained on a wider level, or for entire communities, but only for individuals. While remnants of critical reforms are still with us, like the Head Start program, on the whole policymakers at all levels believed “maximum feasible participation” worked against their self-interest. By 1965, as many promising grass-roots initiatives began to receive the initial [Office of Economic Opportunity] grants, they were required to design programs with public officials and municipal authorities in top-level positions. Soon after, policymakers defunded and dissolved anti-poverty programs.

UC isn't being dissolved.  But it is being steadily defunded.  Napolitano and her OP, Pérez and his regents, aren't openly opposing the most likely scenario for the state portion of UC's 2020-21 budget--a net 7 percent cut from 2019-20's level, or -$260.8 million. This cut to the permanent budget would happen in a year when Covid-19 health and safety could add at least $1 billion to the system's costs.

The long defunding has reduced the power and vitality of UC grassroots--for example, of the academic departments with a fraction of their former funding for speakers and internal research, which now depend on the accident of private donations. Similarly, UC's equivalent of anti-poverty programs--for students facing food insecurity, housing insecurity, and mental health issues--are also funded at a fraction of estimated need.

Replicating the other key post-Kerner retrenchment, UC governance is more top-down than ever.    On the important matter of selecting the new president, the Board excluded the Academic Advisory Committee from basic participation in the search for the new president: even its Chair was not allowed to attend selection committee meetings. UCOP treated the UCSC wildcat COLA strike as a breach of contract discipline rather than as a desperate attempt to communicate basic needs. Participants still face disciplinary charges at Santa Cruz in spite of faculty objections. The Board of Regents remain literally inaccessible to faculty, who may not address the Board except through the president (Standing Order 105.2(e)).

Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Janet Napolitano, John Pérez, and their legislative comrades have replicated in higher ed the strategy that 1960s politicians applied  to cities after Black uprisings against police violence and racist underdevelopment.  They have expressed support for their developmentalist institutions while taking money and power out of them.  Of course the social damage done by underfunding public services for Black and other communities has been far greater than that wrought by underfunding of public universities.  But the practices are analogous.

The public university funding model is broken--and racist.  More inclusion as such won't fix that. Funding parity will fix it.  That means the 66 Dollar Fix or some similar Covid-era stimulus funding that gets per-student resources to the benchmark established for white UC.