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Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009
by Anonymous, continuing Part 1

Response to future cuts

The leadership of our research unit is responding to UC budget reductions by seeking to increase revenue and cut costs.  Beyond what has already been done, one near-term cost-cutting plan is the elimination of all non-SOE lecturers, thus requiring ladder-rank faculty to teach more (a rumor suggests faculty will be allowed to "buy out" from teaching).  Another strong possibility is that research-series faculty, who currently receive half of their salaries from institutional funds and half from their own grants, will have the institutional component of their salaries cut.  A third cost-cutting measure is stronger encouragement for older faculty to retire (and go RTAD if they are still productive).  We may also expand our small and technically self-supporting professional masters program since that returns some money directly to our department.  Obviously, anything and everything that can possibly be charged directly to extramural sources will no longer be supported by institutional funding (except for short-term start-up packages for new appointees).  In the long term, our leadership expects to substantially reduce the number of faculty in our unit (primarily through attrition of research faculty) since faculty salaries are the largest part of our continuously decreasing core UC funding.

Apart from a restoration of UC core funding, the most desired revenue-enhancing measure is to have a greater fraction of the indirect cost recovery (ICR) we generate from extramural funding returned to us rather than diverted elsewhere in the UC system, but this plan has met with little success with the campus administration and UCOP.  Since we do get a third of our ICR returned, we are nonetheless striving to increase the amount of our extramural funding to an even higher level.  Private fundraising makes a small contribution, although this has fallen off in the current economic climate.  The leadership of our unit also plans to increase the faculty teaching load and is encouraging professors to develop new large-enrollment undergraduate classes.  Considered alone, these actions would be revenue enhancing because we receive funding through the campus partially on the basis of the number of undergraduate students taught and the number of graduate students enrolled.

It remains to be seen, however, whether any additional teaching pays off since we may merely cannibalize students from our current courses.  Moreover, every hour spent by a professor on teaching is an hour not spent on preparing a grant proposal.  In terms of incentives for individual faculty and payoff for our unit, additional extramural funding is much more remunerative than additional teaching.  This is the case even though only a third of our ICR is returned and only about 30% of grant proposals in our discipline are successful (a percentage nevertheless higher than that for almost any other discipline).  Our leadership has acknowledged that the faculty cannot indefinitely continue doing more with less, but they hope we have not yet reached the breaking point.

While we have been able to temporarily substitute federal funding for some of the shortfall in state funding, this is only a short-term solution.  Start-up packages still need to be offered, matching funds from the institution may be required, and maintenance of facilities cannot be directly charged to a grant.  Science faculty may ride out a brief crisis by paying themselves from extramural funds, but in the long term they will leave and go to an institution that provides more hard-money support.  Extramural funds cannot replace core funds; they merely leverage core funds to support a greater amount of research.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The folks at Keep California's Promise have written an important Working Paper on fixing public funding for California higher ed. Its results are shocking -- and pleasantly so, for a change.

The authors, Stanton Glantz of UCSF and Eric Hays, CUCFA Director of Research, take 2000-01 as a baseline, and quantify subsequent fee increases and state funding cuts for all three segments - the Community College system, the California State University system, and the University of California. (Disclosure: Glantz and I were two of the authors of the Futures Report, and have worked together on various Academic Senate projects involving university budgets and funding.)

Glantz and Hays then calculate how much it would cost in taxpayer funds to return all three segments to 2000-2001 levels of (inflation-adjusted) educational resources. They also calculate the fee levels required to recover 2000-01 funding levels. This is important because higher ed officials haven't actually raised fees enough to avoid cuts to operations, so they have been raising fees and cutting education at the same time.

There are a couple of interesting twists.  Glantz and Hays return to a 2000-01 pathway that includes fee rollbacks to their earlier levels.  This is a kind of worst case for taxpayers - who then don't get to have high student fees subsidizing their lower public investment - and a best case for students and their families.

The real breakthrough here is that Glantz and Hays move the budget discussion beyond aggregate amounts by calculating the cost to the median individual California taxpayer of an advance toward a near- Master Plan level of affordability.   The results are amazing.  To have 2000-01 levels of investment in students, with reduced 2000-01 level fees (increased for inflation) would cost the median taxpayer . ..  thirty-two dollars ($32).  That's about the same as a holiday bottle of single-malt scotch.

They also provide an income calculator to identify the cost at different income levels.  At the $70,000 cutoff for UC's Blue and Gold plan, which is close to the median family income in California, the tax outlay would be about $200 a year, or about a third of the mid-year fee increase at UC.

The crucial point here is that the Working Paper adds further evidence that robust public higher education is affordable.  We don't need to shrink it or privatize it or water it down because California has no money. Most Californians have 32 dollars. They also have no way of arguing that they don't individually get 32 dollars of annual value from all three segments of California higher education put together. 

I'm tempted to expound on the miracle of mutualization that spreads risks and costs and makes public funding more efficient than private funding for most kinds of goods.  Similar arguments could be made for other sectors of California's public infrastructure so that taxpayers could see what they get for their money.  I'm also tempted to link this report to the excellent commentaries on the Schwartz Plan, transparency projects, and other ideas for internal university improvement and reform. But I will restrain myself and simply say:
  • please read this report
  • if it seems sound to you, please write the head of your California public university and ask him or her to critique, revise, endorse, adapt, and distribute the Working Paper to the public.
This is a good holiday present - getting statistical proof that public higher ed's decline is fiscally unnecessary, and that its recovery is within our means.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
by Gerald Barnett, University of Washington

Here is my summary of Charles Schwartz's plan. It is worth considering. I apologize if I bungle stuff here. I’m aiming to draw out some of the points in the plan that recommend it to my thinking. I recast the plan’s points under 3 major heads and rearrange the parts somewhat to help me get it clear.

Open Budget
Make budget and policy discussions open
Use language proper to education and scholarship
Lead the Regents and nation on these matters

Undergraduate Commitment
Account separately for undergraduate education costs
Cap total resident undergraduate fees at the total undergraduate education costs
State subsidizes undergraduate costs for the needed, and generally as it is able

Research & Administration Reassessment
Justify or eliminate $600m/yr in recent administrative growth
Cap executive compensation at 2x average the compensation of full professors
State commits to reliable funding for core research (faculty, grad students, and overhead)

This approach opens two dialogues with the state--one for undergraduates and one for research/graduate education /administration. Doing so allows UC to argue for funding elements separately that may have different bases of political support. If there are state concerns about one of these elements but not the other, then the problematic one is holding the other one hostage. Disaggregating the two will allow UC to see if this is so. This step might be iterated for elements in the research dialogue as well, giving the state an opportunity to show where the support is stronger or weaker for various elements. This step ought to be done regardless of anything else. If both funding streams lack support, there will be no difference in the overall outcomes of state funding. But if undergraduate education has the stronger support, then at least the undergraduate component can be taken care of, and attention turned to what is needed, politically, to make a case for the rest of the funding.

Following Prof. Schwartz’s analysis, undergraduate fees appear to cover their costs. If this is the case, then there is no cash flow problem for undergraduate education but for UC administration *making it part of the problem*. This would be an expected “budget trick” for working the legislature in typical times. UC doesn’t have that now, however, so a new approach is called for. A clear, open accounting by UC would confirm or qualify whether undergraduate fees cover the costs of undergraduate education. The state is asked to help needy students and provide a general subsidy for undergraduates as it can. That's something the state can do within the present funding to UC. This approach makes a clear proposal for the state: will you support these talented students? Whatever the state comes up with is “on the margin” and is passed on as a direct benefit to students, both needy and generally. It’s the best proposition UC can offer the legislature with regard to undergraduates. Certainly it is better than raising tuition by 30% now, and no doubt more later, in some sort of crisis-bound administrative lupus attack on students and families.

The bargain over research and graduate education is a separate issue. This is a deeper challenge. There is more going on here than with undergraduate education, with a greater range of budgets and inter-relationships. Also, it is where the status of UC would appear to rest, where the strategic importance to the state in training graduate students gets sounded out, and with it the distinctive position UC has within the California higher education scheme in the conduct of research. The plan takes the form of a bargain. It is a true bargain, not just “compact” that UC will have business as usual and the state will throw money at it, but that each must commit to something of value to the other. Whatever happens, a plan with a bargain in it—one that UC can show to the public—provides traction. For this bargain, UC must first account for its own administrative growth in terms of positions and compensation. At least $600m is in play here. Without a complete, open, intellectually honest accounting, one might argue that UC supporters in state government have little leverage to work on UC's behalf. There will have to be cuts for this bargain to work—of positions, of salaries, of layers of organization. One might even expect that the more UC trims, the more likely there will be support for what is strategically important to the state in what’s left. Again, there is an easy “budget trick” of threatening to lop off something valuable or noisy (a journalism department makes good noise this way, historically), or both, and then use that available rallying energy to bring the legislature around. This budget trick also has to go. The stuff to trim off is the stuff no one really needs in a time of crisis. It’s not faculty or academic programs. At least not until the administrative part is made right. I do not know of anyone outside of UC administration that is willing to make the case that UC administration is hunky dory and its something else that has to go. That’s a political reality, whatever the self-rationalizations that might go on. If there’s going to be a fight, let’s have it be over what parts of administration we don’t need in a crisis, rather than pitting science faculty against humanities, or core faculty against professional programs, or campuses with higher rankings in some Chinese university or popular magazine-compiled list against campuses that are lower on such lists. The Schwartz plan brilliantly ends these skirmishes and places the burden on administration first.

If there is to be UC contraction, it must start with administrative positions, organization, and compensation. If there is less of UC—and there already clearly is that—then there needs to be a lot less of the administrative component. This is sad for individuals involved. I don’t wish anything ill on them. We are talking about tails and dogs, however, and honestly, administration is nearer the tail end. In a time of crisis, that’s what needs to go. If various administrative positions are unproductive relative to the new economic realities of UC, then these need to go first, not be drawn into an extra administrative burden of deciding what academic programs to cut and how to manage, say, faculty furloughs and respond to student protests. Finally, if UC compensation is a problem, then if there are going to be losses due to reductions in salary as people take better offers elsewhere, these should start with the administrative side of the house. If these adjustments are unacceptable, then new leaders should be identified. If there is going to be a brain drain, then it will start with the administrative brains. One might add: administration is not management. Management is not the brains of the operation; faculty are not the labor. Administration serves the faculty in the proper order of things, and in a financial crisis it serves the faculty by sacrificing its convenience and privileges. The public expects this. The public is waiting for UC administration to admit it. There will be no leverage in the legislature until it is done. ‘Twere good that it is done quickly, then.

The state support for this core budget beyond undergraduate education also opens up a discussion of the role of UC in providing research for the state. It’s one thing to have a generally wonderful world stature. It’s another to be able to show a direct interest in the research needs and advanced degree training needs of California communities, industry, and local governments. This is a key part the land grant ethos, as well as part of the founding instruments for the University of California. In assessing priorities for funding, UC might expect that the general reputation of campuses (such as “rankings”) might not be nearly so compelling to the people of the state as showing that UC expertise and significant research efforts the state is asked to fund have direct benefits for the state. Perhaps an open, intellectually honest accounting for these efforts would also go some way toward giving the state reasons to argue for funding the state component of the research budget, especially if the university has cleaned house with regard to multiple layers of administration.

These are not easy things to do, but then nothing is these days. Contraction of administrative and state research elements rather than contraction of the whole at the expense of undergraduate education appears to have a lot of merit as the place to make the bargain clear. Make a commitment to the undergraduates, the most vulnerable of people in the whole arrangement. Then work out how the rest of the state supported work will be funded. For that, there won’t be any movement without a miracle or a bargain, and as the former does not admit of planning, one might think the latter has much to commend it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009
by Ákos Róna-Tas, UCSD

Here are several charts.

The first shows the number of ladder rank faculty vs. senior managers at UCSD. This ratio dropped from 5 to 2 to 1 to 1 in the last 15 years.

The second shows the same trend systemwide.

The third shows the size of UCOP over time. (It is not UCOP that caused the enormous systemwide rise in the size of the senior administration.)

The fourth shows that the drop is uniform across all campuses.

Therefore it is unlikely that anything unique to UCSD (such as its large medical establishment) would explain this. Campus specific factors may explain the differences in a given year across campuses but not the change for a particular campus across time.

The numbers of the senior administration that UCOP reports include two groups: the Senior Management Group (SMG) and the Management and Senior Professional (MSP) group.  I have just received an email from UCOP that says that the SMG group has been fluctuating between 275 and 305. So, it seems that most of the growth is due to the MSP group. MSPs are no small fry (most MSOs are not MSPs but Professional and Support Staff or PSSs).  MSPs have a pay-scale that stretches from 100K to 248K (207K if you exclude Medical Centers), so my guess is that the average MSP pay is probably above the average pay of the ladder rank faculty (albeit keep in mind that they are paid on an 11 month schedule).  This MSP group grew faster not just than ladder rank faculty, but faster
than most other categories.

further detail here

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Laurie Monahan, UCSB

Wouldn’t it be nice to think that we have really made some progress after the many struggles against the budget cuts and the ideological agendas issuing from UCOP? That our demands and our questions have not fallen on deaf ears? While this isn’t quite going to deliver what we have in mind, I wanted to share a couple of observations that have made me feel a little less steam-rollered – and just in time for the holiday season!

I serve on a couple of Academic Senate committees at UCSB and as many of you know, a lot of time is spent reviewing documents that are circulating throughout the system. Over the last few months I have been somewhat heartened by the materials that have been coming out of the UC-wide Academic Senate. When particular projects like on-line learning, Edley style, or learning assessment programs, Yudof’s special pet, are reviewed by our colleagues, they come up sorely wanting. The bottom line is the bottom line, after all, and basically none of these things are going to improve the budget situation based on the reports produced by the committees tasked to address them. UCOP, which has been crowing about cost savings should some of these programs be implemented, has offered not one dollar amount to account for existing budgets, the places where savings would be made, and the profits they imagine. This makes perfect sense. Because, of course, one need barely scratch the surface and our colleagues – researchers, after all -- immediately discover that any potential savings would be negligible or simply non-existent, thus leading to the obvious conclusion: the proposals are untenable or deeply flawed.

We can all wonder whether this will be enough to convince UCOP or the Regents to give up on their pipe dreams, but these reports are actually documenting the fact that they are not going to produce any savings and in some cases, will actually be prohibitively expensive to implement. I think that once UCOP really has to put facts to the fantasies, it will be a challenge to get these things implemented (the “through-put” just isn’t there). I take heart in this, not because I’m surprised at the outcomes (most people don’t need a task force to tell them that instruction without a body in the room is not going to produce the desired “learning outcome” in a liberal arts education). Rather, it means that once UCOP’s “ideas” start grinding through the system, our representatives and the UC structure delivers. This is something that Yudof and others at UCOP seem to have overlooked (or perhaps by firing a good portion of the informed UCOP personnel, they simply don’t know they have to contend with it). We have all had occasion to drive up our blood pressure thanks to the bureaucratic hoop-jumping required in the UC system, but this may well be what delivers us from the worst of these putatively forward-looking plans. It’s a slow process, so it’s difficult to sense that our protests have had an effect, but I believe our efforts are being backed up by the system itself. Shared governance has taken a terrible beating this last year, but UC’s structure requires certain kinds of information and assessments before UCOP can imagine itself king of infinite space. So far the committees have found what we already know, and they’ve got put official stamp on their reports. The devil is in the details, Mr. Yudof. Happy holidays.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009
By Michael Meranze

“And what is wrong, again, is the whole system of values—the entire ordering of human priorities—of this insistent managerial propaganda. It is sad to see even the scholars themselves hesitate in their work and wonder about the use of what they are doing. Even they begin to feel, defensively, that a salesman or an advertising executive is perhaps a more important and productive human being than an actor, or a designer, or a teacher of English.”
--E.P. Thompson

The November regents meeting revealed many things. It demonstrated, once again, the fundamental lack of connection between UCOP and the Regents on the one hand and students and the Campuses on the other. It demonstrated a growing if still relatively small student movement within the UC. And it also demonstrated that the relationship of faculty to that movement remains profoundly unclear and ambivalent. This ambivalence is clearest regarding tactics like the occupations of buildings (a tactic that obviously splits the faculty itself) but that also has to be confronted on the terrain of our understanding of what the University is, what it should be, and what possibilities there are to protect it. I fear that in the day-to-day planning and responding we are losing sight of what “university” we are talking about in the chanting of “Whose University, Our University?”


Bob Samuels has recently suggested that there are two narratives struggling for dominance in understanding the University’s fiscal crisis. On the one hand, are those who want to insist that the crisis is in Sacramento and that the struggle should focus there, while on the others there are those who insist (as does Bob) that the first struggle should be against UCOP and the Regents because they have more resources than they admit and the problem is a question of priorities. Bob is being provocative here—he knows perfectly well that there is a third narrative: that there is a crisis of state funding and that the Regents and UCOP have contributed to that crisis by their willingness, in some cases eagerness, to allow the funding basis of the University to shift from the State to students and private sources. This last narrative is, of course, more pessimistic than Samuels’ (we would need to prepare for a longer-term transformation of the University and we would have to acknowledge that without a change in the state we will be dealing with budget pressures for a long time).

But despite this pessimism, I would argue that not only is the third narrative the most persuasive but that it is the only narrative that will allow us to raise a crucial additional issue: what do we think, outside of the argument about the fiscal crisis, the University really is? The first narrative presumes that the state is simply at fault and all we need to do is to get funding back. The second narrative, unintentionally of course, mirrors President Yudof’s language about the centrality of UC “businesses.” The first narrative allows the faculty to avoid accepting responsibility for what UC has become; the second narrative effectively reduces it to its money flows and money management. The third narrative on the other hand will force us to decide what we think that the University should be as a university in order to resist the efforts by UCOP and UCOF to remake the University on managerial terms under the pressure of the budget crisis.


I would also argue that the same dichotomy present in Bob’s two narratives is also a part of the confusions over protest tactics. Clearly, if you accept that our problems are all Sacramento’s fault then there is no real point in protesting against UCOP or the Regents. To be honest, I don’t see this as a serious position (I am happy to be disabused). The recent history of UCRP, the unbelievably disproportionate growth of administrative positions, the Regents complicity in the “Compact” and their continued defense of the Governor, as well as the way that UCOF has been set up to favor the professional school model and to ignore the humanities and social sciences makes the notion that we should ignore UCOP and the Regents slightly bizarre. Moreover, the supine nature of the system-wide Academic Senate reveals that our own institutional agents are part of the internal problems we face. In that sense, blaming Sacramento alone allows the faculty to overlook the ways that we have ceded too much control to the administration (over several decades admittedly) and also the way that faculty who are concerned about the shape of the University today have allowed our own faculty institutions to slip into the hands of those closer to the perspective of the administration than to us.

But the narrative of the Occupations would demand a surrender of the University as well. When the cry of “demand nothing” goes up it is, strictly speaking not true. They are demanding the right to seize space, to force others to accommodate them, and to disrupt the daily flow of the University. More conventional protests do that as well, of course. But what gives the call for occupying buildings and to demand nothing its rhetorical and polemical force is the picture it paints of the university—as an appendage of Capital and the police state. As the “Communiqué from an Absent Future” put it: "The university has no history of its own; its history is the history of capital. Its essential function is the reproduction of the relationship between capital and labor.” But to put things this way is to ignore history and not even correctly understand the present. The university is older than the dominance of capital, and as an institution it retains traditions and practices that cannot be reduced to capital. To reduce the university in the way of the Communiqué is, like the managerial ethos, to reduce it to its utility to capital. It is to ignore the practices of curiosity, of communication, of self-formation, of deepening engagement with thought that, however much they are devalued in the larger world are essential aspects to any social change or even human life.

My sense from down south is that here the occupations have not generated much notice or sympathy amongst the wider public. I see a lot of sympathy (within limits) for the students facing a rise in fees who protested in defense of their access to education (mixed with some hostility because everyone is suffering). But down here the one occupation attempt didn't get much press and caused I think a good deal of internal strife amongst the students.

But even that is not the fundamental point. I don't think that the university is simply a tool of the police state and capital. It has a long and varied history that needs to be drawn upon and articulated at least as much for ourselves and our students as for the public. In the insistence that it is really a business that gets lost. I think that beyond the danger of people getting hurt, the loss of a sense of a university is one of the big dangers about the way that some of the debate and protest has been proceeding. I worry that we are running around like people with fingers in the dike trying to patch up this and that but losing sight of what we think UC should be. I am romantic enough to believe that the University should be run by something other than the rules of capital and the market and that it can do so. I recognize that the UC system was created in a different moment of political economy but that does not mean it isn’t worth defending. I think that we have over time lost the ability to defend what we do and to imagine what we want the University to be (this is especially the case at places like LA and Berkeley given their size). Indeed, I would say that it is, at least in part, this lack of a vision as well as our abdication of oversight over administration that has allowed the different sectors of the faculty to be in competition with each other over resources. We don’t see how we fit together (and on a purely material basis we don’t understand the mutual dependence when it comes to funds).

If we want to articulate a meaningful alternative, though, we will have to put forth our own version of use and usefulness. In the new battle of the books we will be arguing not about the ancients versus the moderns or the humanistic versus the scientific disciplines (although those arguments will go on) but between the books of the scholars and the books of the accountants. On the one hand, we will have to show, as Chris Newfield has argued on various occasions, that the very economic models that the Regents and UCOP are putting forth won’t work at the UC or the CSU. The notion that fees and private donations can supply the funds necessary to educate the number of students we teach without eliminating the poor and middle-class is nonsense. Private schools may be able to do that but their scale is so much smaller than ours as to be irrelevant. Ann Arbor may have sacrificed its public funding but at the same time Michigan citizens have sacrificed their access.

But beyond the financial, the business university with its values presses against the values of the scholar’s university. This point, I think, is a tricky one. The public, understandably, wants to know what they are getting out of the University. As I have suggested elsewhere if student fees increase and the University becomes more exclusive the public will withdraw its support even further than it has up till now. But the fact remains that much of what we do depends on suspending the immediacy of the present—even when it is most problem-centered it is in the gap between the given and the imagined that insight flourishes—and that this aspect of our work is hard to explain and communicate effectively. Humanistic education, at its best, provides students and society with worlds (both past, imaginary, and distant) that are not their own; social scientific education, at its best, provides students and society with ways to conceive of problems that escape from the given logics of the day; scientific education, at its best, allows students and societies ways of bracketing out the everyday in order to better understand the material world that we all inhabit. In all cases, it is the suspension of the immediate and the possibility of the creative and contested communication of ideas that makes knowledge and understanding possible. It cannot be predicted in advance nor confined to a given product or utility. The problem with seeing the University as a business or as a tool of capital is that it misses the day to day work that everyone actually does. Instead of allowing the University to be remade in the terms of narrow utility we need to insist that it deepen its commitment to the democratic exchange of ideas both in terms of developing solutions to problems in society, in developing individuals who seek out further opportunities for public and intellectual engagement with society, and in developing individuals whose curiosity and inquiry reshapes themselves. But we don’t have, or haven’t articulated, a good language for this—either to ourselves or to others.

That we all have allowed ourselves to be confined within increasingly narrow intellectual limits and failed to effectively converse across the university about the university and what we do is one of our major intellectual weaknesses in the face serial crises that confront us all. There is a difference between this suspension of immediacy and esotericism for its own sake. We need to make that difference clear.

The Regents, UCOP, and the Academic Senate have no vision of a genuine University as far as I can see. We need to articulate that ourselves. It may make no difference. But if we don’t do it someone else will—and we won’t like the outcome.
UC Reponds to Yudof in Time Top-10                                                                                                                                              

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009
By Jonathan Lemuel

“A Messenger was dispatched half a Day’s Journey before us, to give the King Notice of my Approach, and to desire that his Majesty would please appoint a Day and Hour, when it would be his gracious Pleasure that I might have the Honour to lick the Dust before his Footstool. This is the Court Style, and I found it to be more than Matter of Form: For upon my Admittance two Days after my Arrival, I was commanded to crawl on my Belly, and lick the Floor as I advanced; but on account of my being a Stranger, Care was taken to have it so clean that the Dust was not offensive.”

Gulliver’s Travels, Book III

I’d never thought to live in Luggnagg. I was, thereby, both stunned and pleased when I received the formal address of the Academic Council on the discontents that surrounded the recent Regents’ Meeting. I was reassured by their stature, it was, after all, “the Academic Council of the University: we are the chairs of the ten campus divisions, as well as the chairs of the systemwide committees” who graced us with their “address” regarding the protests at the Regents Meeting and throughout the system. With true nobility they humanely shared “the anguish” of staff, students, and faculty in the face of furloughs, layoffs, course reductions, fee increases, and increased class sizes. Despite their anguish, they sought to enlighten us: these policies are a regrettable but necessary response to the state’s actions. There were, of course, no alternatives: no refraining from loaning the state millions of dollars, of reversing some of the internal fund transfers, of tapping into, temporarily, some of the revenues from what President Yudof recently referred to as UC’s “businesses,” no administrative bloat, no responsibility on the part of the Regents for their long-standing compliance with the State’s Disinvestment.

But luckily for us Luggnaggians that is not the only point of the Address. Instead, they wondrously reminded us of the value of civility in our discussions. The Council was “especially concerned about group protests in which a number of individuals attempted to move past police barricades, physically threaten and throw objects at police, and surround vehicles to trap those within.” I am happy to know that the Academic Council opposes violence: had they not spoken, some might have thought otherwise. And clearly, moving past barricades and surrounding vehicles were the most worrisome actions during the Regents’ Meeting. But, and I fear here that I may overstep my humble bounds, I noticed that in their rush to remind us all of our duties to work together that they inadvertently forgot to mention their concern about students being tasered, they misfiled their explicit condemnation of the use of pepper spray, and that someone accidentally deleted their objection to students being hit with batons. I am sure that that will be the topic of their next address. And I would assure you all that it was purely because of their great learning and acumen that while they humbly called for police policies and actions to be “subject to inquiry and review” they were able to achieve enough certainty to condemn the protesters and blame them for the violence that occurred. They are too noble to have held different standards on an issue that important.

I was also reassured that the Academic Council is only concerned with protecting the open and civil exchange of ideas. But then, my heart went out to them. Clearly they had been ill-served by whoever acted as their proofreader (most likely a lowly humanities professor the Council was aiding with funds to overcome his or her furlough losses). Surely in their commitment to open exchange they had originally condemned the fact that Regents cut off public comments early because they were behind their own schedule, and that the Regents limit public comments so sharply, that UCOF meetings allow speakers from the floor only one minute, and especially the fact that members of the University community are only allowed to address the Regents through the good graces of the President’s office—a practice more suited to a feudal regime than an enlightened realm like UC Luggnagg. Yet these had not been translated to the page!

In Luggnagg after you have licked the dust on your way to the King, "it is capital for those who receive an Audience to spit or wipe their Mouth’s in his Majesty’s Presence.” (GT BOOK III) Luckily that is not the case here, fellow Luggnaggians; our leaders would never look down upon us that way. And only a Yahoo would think that the lustrous wisdom of the Academic Council would be just as hard to swallow as the dust spread on the King’s floor.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
By Anonymous
(With a New Response by David Theo Goldberg - linked below)

Wherever there are enrollment-based budget subsidies (from the robust enrollments of the Social Sciences and Humanities to the increasingly expensive STEM fields with small labs and classes), all that's about to go away. This much is clear even without tallying squeezes and losses in those areas that are already woefully short of faculty and of graduate students - they will soon be unable to serve their full student population any longer, as they continue to lose both faculty and graduate student support. A couple of data points: campuses are reducing block grants allocated to graduate programs, so that only those faculty who have ample soft money can fund grad students. Campuses also seek to outsource first-year subjects like math, composition, and language instruction to extension or summer, further decimating the only way the Humanities and other core campus areas can support grad students.

Meanwhile, Berkeley just lost at least two, perhaps three of its most senior people in Art History (perhaps the strongest Art History Department outside New York City...), others are about to follow. Faculty in the language departments everywhere in the UC are being recruited by Chicago, by universities in Texas, by privates and publics across the nation. People at UC Santa Cruz are apoplectic: History of Consciousness has been decimated, even as students numbers grew; UCLA has had to whore its Humanities people out to special interests in the donor community to get some support. And UCSD was about to shoot its Arts people to put them out of their misery (as retirees have been either not replaced, or they hired people who can play Calit2 and new technologies); they just saved a few select Arts faculty, but only again with big donor money. UCI lost more than ten percent of its Humanities faculty in the past two years, but due to the budget crunch there are no replacement lines. As their Dean wrote recently in Inside Higher Ed:

"The privates have come calling," says Ruiz, dean of the University of California at Irvine's School of Humanities. "I've lost very valued faculty members to Yale, to Northwestern, to Penn, to Pomona, to Scripps [...] "We are not able to put together the counter offers that we have in the past," she says soberly. […] "We're going to be a smaller school."

That campus was once planned, in the 1960s, explicitly as a Humanities flagship in the system; and most of UCI's Humanities programs got ranked in the top 10 or top 20 nationally. That school is now being decimated to where it cannot recover, and yet Engineers openly call for the Humanities to be closed in favor of additional subsidies for expensive labs.

Yes, people who are not in Academia for the money are taking such symbolic slights more seriously - and the writing on the wall is very clear: Arts and Humanities are being decimated every which way. One campus's Hum division took a ten percent budget cut this fall, while BioSci there got off taking a 3 per cent cut to its state-funded budget (plus they have non-state funds, while Arts and Humanities don't). Double whammy.

The Humanities center directors could not even begin to get David Theo Goldberg (director of the system-wide Humanities Research Institute, now controlling virtually all Humanities research dollars yet ignoring its own name) to commit to Humanities rather than to education and science studies (and digital anything). People have given up hiring into the Berkeley clusters that were going to be a way of anchoring Arts and Humanities into other disciplines.

The people running the campuses, and dominating the tone in Senate and Administration alike, are almost exclusively now from the professional schools - Medicine, Law, plus some Engineering, BioSci, and a sprinkle of dyspeptic Economists. And of course the BioSci people now all want to paid like MedSchool faculty, tapping soft money that used to be reserved for grad students and lab expenses, not faculty salaries. Rumors about the next UC Provost point once again to a hugely expensive MedSchool appointment with XYZ comp up the wazoo, instead of someone from a main campus discipline - another PR nightmare in the making for UC. There seem to be no people talking to President Yudof regularly who have ever taught a full room of undergraduate students. Senate reps like to whine about deadly Edley's manners, but nobody has a clue about what could be done to balance the representation in the Senate or on the Commission. There are fewer and fewer Historians, Philosophers, or English profs in any campus senate organization than ever - not to mention people from the Arts. Why? Because they drop out when faced with with populist resentment from the servile arts against the liberal arts and humanities. The Gould Commission is a much more empowered group right now than any part of the Senate, sadly, though it's years behind the curve and only beginning to ask the most obvious questions. Meanwhile, the UC has to deal with campus grassroots initiatives that are best at shooting themselves in all extremities before getting any traction.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
UCOP's budget request for 2010-11 was good (see the summary).  It goes looking for a big bounce - from down over $800 million this year, to in principle up over $900 million next year. It's a restoration budget, and is an improvement in tactics after years of being limited to 3% increases by UCOP's timid interpretation of the Compact such that it failed to use the mid-decade boom to get out of the hole dug by the previous bust of 2002-05.

We've analyzed the budget on this blog quite a bit: a July 11 headnote provides some background and links, and references a post that estimates the funding crash under a scenario called Extreme Arnold.  That post summarizes six scenarios for the UC budget and offers an overview of what's happened to our state funding.

The chart there was an update of those of the Futures Report (2007) (or see the slides) and the Cuts Report (2008).   Now my Futures Report co-author Henning Bohn, an economics professor at UCSB, has also updated the budget data. It's a draft, he reminds me, but it is nicely convergent with the updates noted above.  Henning also updates the calculation of state personal income, so that "benchmark" line is better.

First, there's the brown line that shows that actual state funding is below the worst case scenario imagined in 2007 - a "public funding freeze" otherwise known as privatization - (the scenarios are summarized here).

The governor and legislature's appropriate for 2009-10 is literally falling off the chart.  The brown dot is UCOP's 2010-11 target.  Note that it is still below the level funding guaranteed by the Compact with the governor - the one he unilaterally abrogated.

Now comes the interesting part.  When people ask why UC got whacked beyond anything seen in higher education in three generations, the answer is always the same: Sacramento has no money.  If you think about money in terms of Sacto's insane budget brokering - which produces fake closures and infinite mystery holes not seen in nature - then there is money for nothing, and the state can do nothing, and we are all being sucked slowly into the budgetary version of Poe's maestrom until we are a state of certified morons - because there is just no money.

Here's where another of Henning's charts comes in handy:

State personal income: that's how much money we actually have. This inspired, illuminating chart compares UC's general fund to the state's actual personal income.  When state funding goes down because state income goes down - because the economy tanks, people lose their houses and jobs - then the ratio between the two stays the same, and the line is flat.  When people get poor, but greedy government services continue to suck their blood, then we have an upsloping line - the university would be taking more of a share of people's money than before.  We see a Benchmark that would indicate where UC's budget would be were its General Fund to have remained the same share of state personal income as it had in 2001.  Then we see three phases:
  1.  a 5 -year decline in UC's allocation as a share of state personal income - the money people actually do have to spend on various things - prisons, cars, big screens, hootche-kootche, education.   2001's 0.28%  personal income for the greatest public university in the world was already pretty darn low, and lower than it had been in the past. But it went down and down until 2005-6.
  2. 2005-2008 -the Compact allowed 3% annual increases, less than half that of other state agencies (see Cuts).  This kept UC funding exactly flat in relation to state personal income - each went up between 3 and 4% a year, hand in hand.  But there was no recovery to the 2001 norm.
  3. 2008-10: the 25% GF cut.  UC's budget dropped  not just in absolute terms, but as a share of state personal income.
This means that UC didn't get poor because the state's people got poor.  UC got poor because Sacto  skimmed a piece of UC's traditional share of the state's wealth. Sacto took a slice, and UC got poor.  It got poor because Sacto took out UC's earned money even though UC was as a worthy, stable provider of state services for a deservedly stable share of state income.

Here at UC, we not trying to do anything fancy this year.  We're not talking about improving UC. We're not talking about innovation. So here are two unfancy strategies with Sacto, performed I hope by some not very fancy people.

1. establish a historical baseline share of state personal income.  Henning has already provided this. UCOP should adopt it.  It will go up and down with the state, but not off a cliff as it is now doing with the state standing there giving a push.
2. detail the multi-year financial objectives that this baseline translates into - e.g. what GF we need in 2013, given an expected number of students and rate of inflation. It will be a compact with the students and state alike, will allow future planning. The measure would be flexible in a downturn, giving the taxpayers a break . It would also encourage UC to detail what they are going to do with the money.

It's simple. It's easy.  Do it!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
To Enable the Young, Poor, and Sick to Contribute to Fixing the Budget

By Jonathan Lemuel

Everyone knows that California is facing a crisis. But the increases in fees for UC, CSU, and Community College students, the recent proposals of the Parsky Commission to shift the tax burden more onto the poor and the middle class, the legislature’s limited changes to California’s criminal justice system, and Governor Schwarzenegger’s half-hearted cuts of health services all reveal a failure of political will and imagination. Now, I do not claim to be anything other than a well-wisher to the Public Good, but I think that the cause of California’s budget problem is obvious: we have too many poor, sick, and young people roaming freely on the streets while expecting to be treated as if they possessed human dignity.

I would therefore propose that all children be sentenced to prison when they turn two years old. Such a proposal would simply speed up California’s normal process; it has become clear for at least two decades that Californians prefer to lock up young people (especially minorities) than to educate them. This proposal would simply make that policy more universal. It would eliminate the need for bureaucrats (judges, bailiffs, attorneys, perhaps even police) thus reducing the size of the State’s workforce. Given that Californians have shown themselves willing to pay more to imprison people than to send them to college it would be politically popular and therefore help unify the state. And finally, it would save the State money that would otherwise be spent building new prisons—California could simply transform schools into prisons and work with those physical plants.

The economic benefits are, therefore, clear. I realize that some might point out that it costs several times as much annually to incarcerate a person than to send them to college and thus question the economic logic of my proposal. I am not sure why this should be a concern since our State leaders have been spending money in this way for decades without complaint. But I think that their objection shows that they are not willing to “blow up the boxes” as the Governor likes to say; my proposal addresses costs nicely. First, if we sentence students to prison at the age of two then we would lessen the need for teachers and severely weaken the power of teachers unions—evil bureaucracies that everyone knows are a major cause of the budget problems and it would enable more authority to flow into the prison guards’ union. Given that the State recently cut educational and vocational programs within the prisons we would save money on useless things like books that teach our children dangerous ideas and stimulate their imaginations. And we would no longer burden hospitals or insurance companies with the distasteful task of treating the poor or uninsured since they would already be under the health system of the Department of Corrections. If we forced inmates to work on public roads and bridges we could even fix some of our infrastructural problems.

But there are moral and political benefits as well. Because while I am suggesting that all children should be sentenced to prison, I am not suggesting that they all should be committed to prison. That would be patently unfair. Instead we should allow those with sufficient money to buy their children’s freedom. If we set that price appropriately we would be able to raise sufficient funds to make the state prisons function for all of the poor, the young and the sick and have money left to protect the houses and property of those not in prisons. Since only those who could afford their children’s freedom would be sending their children to college we could easily raise the rates at UC and CSU—thereby ensuring their good bond ratings. This requirement would hurt no one since clearly only those with sufficient wealth could truly care for their children. I am convinced that this policy makes more sense than the proposal of the recent Parsky Commission to rely on an untested value-added tax to make working people bear more of the state’s tax burden. My proposal is much simpler and easier to enforce.

I have some learned friends who have proposed other possible solutions to the State’s crisis: imposing an oil extraction tax; splitting the rolls on Proposition 13 to allow homeowners to retain their protections while causing commercial property and development to pay a fairer share; some have even proposed that we institute majority rule in California! But none of these proposals make sense to me. First of all, they would all mean that we would no longer allow the Republican Party to control public policy and that seems cruel to such public servants. But, more importantly, these suggestions send the wrong message to the young, suggesting as they do that all citizens are equally worthy of support and assistance. But we know that isn’t true. After all, as Mike Genest, Governor Schwarzenegger’s finance director pointed out “Government doesn’t provide services to rich people,” it is only the others who derive benefit from the public. It is time, and my proposal would do this, that we openly acknowledge what has been implicit in our social and economic policy: the wealthy are better than the rest of us. And we should get out of their way. Otherwise we might convince ourselves that we should be treated as their equals.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009
legitimacy and the great public absence
by Kris Peterson, UC Irvine

I just finished watching a YouTube video of Regents Bonnie Reiss and Eddie Island make a quick get-a-way to their vehicle at UCLA - just after they voted to increase student fees by an unprecedented 32%. They were surrounded and followed by students chanting, “Shame on you!” Reiss represents the banking and finance industry; and Island, a retiree of McDonnell-Douglas, represents the defense industry.  So, given that these two industries, with their ballooned subsidies and profits, have done nothing more than take this country down over the last several years, I’m thinking a lot about legitimacy. Not legitimacy related to governance. Rather, legitimacy in terms of representation and intent.

Let me go back in time. Between 1952 and 2007, UC had a vibrant relationship with its patron, the weapons industry. Over the years, some found this relationship egregious, as the public was concerned about nuclear proliferation and Cold War military conflicts throughout the world. Culminating in the 1970s, student protests against UC-managed Labs indexed these global events. Yet despite all this, the one thing that the weapons industry, and indeed the US military, had in common with a stellar, highly endowed, multi-campus, public university was the priority of research. Whether it was about NSEP language grants, private sector-federal government partnerships, or DOD and NSF funding that blurred the lines between foreign policy and military interests, a strong interdisciplinary research institution, writ large, was good for this industry.

But now we have a new relationship that constitutes a mix of patronage and competition. It’s been built with the finance industry, commercial real estate – Big Business generally – all of which the Regents represent. And what does the “bottom line” of these industries have in common with the project of education and research? Well, it doesn’t take much to bet up or down on whether the housing market will crash; and it doesn’t take much to figure out how student fees will secure your bond markets as Bob Meister has analyzed. The reasoning of the “bottom line” may be this: what kind of education is really needed once manufacturing and jobs have been exported? What kind of new knowledge for innovation is needed when the wealth of innovative industries has been transferred to the finance sector? What’s the role of public education for an economy that’s radically restructuring?

As we all know, state budget priorities have shifted dramatically over time. For example, Bruce Franklin has pointed out that in 1976, the last tuition-free university (CUNY) became a fee-based institution. From 1976 to 2000 - the moment when free education disappeared, on average, a new prison was constructed in the US every week - thus the extraordinary transfer of funds from education to prison budgets, as well as the extraordinary transfer of especially young Americans of Color from the potential and reality of education to prison (which could certainly increase with skyrocketing fees). Indeed, in the last few statewide cuts, the surveillance institutions sustained relatively few hits compared to the 20%-100% cuts experienced by other public services and institutions.

But I want to make a distinction here between the transfer of wealth between CA budget categories and the outright emptying out of the public sector. Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon privatization should be our guide:  after Reagan inflated the national defense budget, we never really imagined that these massive sums of money could be pushed into private hands under Bush II’s pretext of war, even though by then it was a model the US (and others) provided the Third World. Yet now this model has been adopted by California. So we are no longer explicitly facing the question of entitlement to funds within limited budgets. We are now up against a competition for resources, which can be crudely drawn between the public and private sectors – with the public sector losing out. The recent CA Budget Agreements (peruse the California Budget Project for details) clearly show that while the health, education, and human services sectors are being overwhelmingly dispossessed, corporations are increasingly privileged and raking it in.

So here’s the thing with legitimacy: the Regents as a simultaneous representative of both public higher education and Big Business is a real, big, stupid problem in the context of resource struggles. The state budget decisions that screw us are the same decisions that serve the interests of the Regents. This is a conflict of interest that makes the Regents’ decisions about fee hikes and budget cuts as well as the premise of the Gould Commission completely illegitimate. Furthermore, it’s perplexing that the Regents have been put in charge of setting our future agenda. They, in fact, should be subjected to public hearings that understand their plan to eliminate the "publicness" of the UC, even prior to the budget crisis.

And certainly the absence of the Legislature is stunning - their lack of accountability, their lack of responsibility in maintaining the integrity of higher ed, and in some cases their total ignorance. One of my colleagues here at UCI met with our Assembly Rep a couple months ago to talk about the prospects of higher education in the context of cuts and new changes. The point of the meeting was to convey how once you lose infrastructure you don't really get it back. Our Rep had no idea what was at stake - I mean, remarkably and unbelievably clueless. So, the Legislature needs their public hearing too.

In addition to pressuring the Regents, I would advocate in-depth public or town hall meetings that also travel throughout the state, perhaps from one school district to the next. Other modes of public engagement are of course possible, but while current efforts are gaining lots of momentum, we need to take this crisis to the public. Senate and Assembly members, media, unions, students, parents, civic groups, PTA and local boards of education (make the K-12 link), the CSU and UC communities, and the general public should all be able to participate and discuss direct and indirect issues impacting public education and the public sector more generally. Such dialogues could look for ways to advocate for the university's and public education’s growth rather than figuring out how to pound the last nail into the coffin. Right now, our only mode of engagement (outside of protests) is with UCOF, which, if the Regents even bother showing, limits the discussion between “us and them.” This makes it a private endeavor and contributes to the ongoing absence, if not ignorance, of the public (Michael Meranze’s recent post about the public’s ideas of saving the university is telling).

While some may argue that such an endeavor is too difficult or it’s something that should happen over the longer term – well, point taken, and I certainly don’t have all the strategic answers. But honestly, can we afford to leave this in the hands of the Regents and the Legislature who don’t feel knocked around by protests and who are answerable to more powerful interests? We have a real opportunity to initiate state wide discussions on what the public sector actually is, why we need it, why it’s being taken away, and what this means for Californians – something the national health care debates failed to adequately accomplish.

As I have heard and read many good arguments about public education as a cornerstone of democracy, as an entitlement that should remain in tact, as something that shouldn’t simply provide a direct route to the market place, and as a site that enriches “hearts and minds,” I don’t think these angles alone provide the kind of sway we need. Rather, we need to examine how economic structures are transforming in ways that will restrict entitlements currently taken for granted. As economy and entitlements transform, the question of society’s knowledge, labor, and educational needs are also changing. These fast paced events are meant to fit into an economy that’s less productive and that’s being recreated by massive job and home loss. Both are shrinking the middle class – the class for which, as Chris Newfield has pointed out, higher education was meant to expand.  So the argument cannot just rest with the preservation of the university for its own sake, it must argue against the very political and economic foundations driving the change. Shifting our efforts into the public realm may be our best hope.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

The only good news coming out of UCLA has been the student protests. They attracted lots of media coverage of the financial hardships caused by the 32% fee hikes - and of frustration with a closed decision-making process.  The coverage of the students was almost entirely positive. It included a photo of a little tasering going on next to the bushes, not long after the UCLA admin denied the possibility that students were being tasered.  The Regents did their work under police protection, and left under even heavier police protection, and they were all trapped together in the parking garage by students for 3 or 4 hours, which I doubt was enough time for them to ponder all the errors of their ways.

That's too bad, because UCOP and the Regents have made UC's finances worse, not better, with this fee hike.  A little history will help explain.

In Major Downturn 1 (1992-1995), UC lost about 20% of its state funding and raised fees (excluding campus fees) from $1624 to $3799, an increase of 134% in 3 years.

In Major Downturn 2 (2002-2005), UC lost about 16% of its state funding and raised fees from $3834 to $6141, an increase of 60%.

In Major Downturn 3 (2008-??), UC has already lost 25% of its state funding. This is by far the worst of the downturns, and is hitting the state workforce hard.  Fees started at $7126 in 2008. Were they to rise by the average of the two previous increases, or say 100%, they would be at about $14,250 by 2011-12 - up another $4000 from 2010-11 (set yesterday at $10,302).

Were the fees in this downturn to go up as much as they did in Downturn 1 (134%), they would stand at $16,685 in 2011-12.  If the downturn stays bad, more cuts will come and fee hikes will be even higher - to $20,000, with the usual stipulations about 33% return-to-aid.

The Regents this week all but locked us into this.  Here's why:
  1. Sacramento has another new deficit and opinions range from the Republicans calling for deeper and deeper cuts to the Democrats saying they don't see any way around deeper cuts.  
  2. Fee hikes take political pressure off Sacramento to restore funds.  Hikes do not make up for state cuts (UCOP estimates they make up for 1/3rd; I estimate this hike will net 2% new funds for UC's core budget.  But they create the public impression that UC has access to new non-state money, and will struggle a little but will be just fine. 
  3. Many in UCOP and on the Board of  Regents have convinced themselves "the era of public funding is over."   They correctly note that state government would like to minimize its contribution to higher ed in various ways, including through such means as reneging on its agreement to pay a share of UC's pension costs. This pessimism is, however, a self-fulfilling prophecy, and undermines strong proactive engagement before it begins.  The only alternative to public funding are large, repeated fee hikes.
  4. UCOP and the Regents have no critique of the Governor's slash-and-burn budgeting, no plan to howl about downgraded student dreams and reduced economic contributions, no game-changing plan in general, nor any announced intention to start one. 
In reality this decline is unnecessary.   Like many others I've made counterproposals (see the debate there too), and UC is full of faculty, staff, and student organizations with better ideas than what we heard from the Regents committees this week.

The first step is going to be the hardest: the Regents will have to figure out how to implement what the great majority of the UC community would like to see, rather than rejecting that every two months.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From SAVE UCLA: Subject:
TOMOR- ROW: PART II, Statewide Mobili-zation Against the Fee Hikes at Covel Commons!

Today was hard and unexpected, but tomorrow we will have 1000+ students and workers from all across the state to stand with us against the tuition hikes. TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO SHOW UP AND SUPPORT!


6:30-7:30am - PICKET PREP


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
If you are going to inflict pain on students, the least you can do is feel their pain.  The second thing you can do is broadcast their pain to the Governor and the legislature that caused it.    Maybe then they’d think twice about forcing more fee hikes with more cuts. Maybe even the fanatical governor would think twice, since he is promising still deeper cuts, and to go after “the high-hanging fruits.”

The Regents are expected to increase undergrad resident “Ed Fees” 32% over the next 18 months. They are also set to explode professional school fees beyond limits set by their own rules – from zero to $6000 for Environmental Design at Berkeley, zero to $6000 for Information Management, zero to $4000 for Social Welfare, zero to $11,000 for Physical Therapy at UCSF – a 2/3rd increase for Public Health at Berkeley, and 40% increases in Nursing at 4 campuses scheduled for 2010-2012. In responses, UC leaders are saying that 32% fee increases won’t affect students that much at all.  The Blue and Gold Plan press release says that over half of UC undergrads get grants averaging $10,300 per year - which would suggest to normal readers that half of undergrads will continue to pay no tuition.

In the same vein, the Regents' documents state that "financial aid program enhancements . .  meant that undergraduate students with family incomes below $180,000 experienced, on average, an increase of $1,200 - $1,500 in resources for education expenses” (Regents Nov F1 p 12).  Or a page later,  “UC projects that, on average, students with incomes below $180,000 will experience financial resource increases, either through gift aid or expanded tax credits, to cover the full amount of fee increases already approved and now proposed for 2009-10.”  This sounds a lot like UCOP is saying, the more fees go up, the better off all (but the richest) students are.

This is a script from a model sometimes called "high-tuition / high-fees," and at other times called "privatization." It is not a script based on student reality. Even UCOP’s rosy scenario leaves an average $11,000 gap in the cost of attendance, which is three times what "middle-income" familes ($50,000-$100,000) are able to pay for college and nearly five times the average outlays of lower-income families (Sallie Mae Figure 6). These gaps are filled with increasing student debt, and increasing student work while in college.  Private student debt tripled in the last downturn, debt overall continues to grow, 75% of the public college students who borrow have more than $10,000 in debt, with a median of $17,700.

Stats can be strung out for a while but let's cut to the chase. Debt reduces incentive to continue and reduces freedom of career choice and economic contribution. Excessive work lowers attainment for students who do attend.  Today I spent an hour with a first-generation student who pays for fees and rent at UCLA by working 38 hours a week as a shift supervisor at Starbucks. How much more exactly is UC going to ask her to do?

This gets us back to strategy.  The Ed Fee hike will net $330.0 million for UC (Display 3), which, as a percentage of 2 years of  UC's "core budget" (p 3) comes to 2%.  Is 2% really worth all this student grief?
Secondly, when the Governor and the legislature read that UC covers its fee hikes with financial aid, what reason do they have to rebuild public funds?  The logical effect is the opposite - to think UC can save itself with higher fees, and help low-income students with better aid.  UCOP has been sending a mixed message for years - we need more public money, but we can always raise private money through tuition increases. The effect has been a disaster for public funding - not the one cause of the disaster, but a major one.  In the ten years that have seen fees double,  public funding is now back exactly where it was (Display 4) - well below, actually, corrected for enrollment growth and inflation.  And with its soothing talk of managed fee hikes, UCOP is giving Sacramento no reason to change.

Here's what the Regents should do instead:

1.Recenter UC’s message on the reality that massive fee hikes are very bad. They are just plain bad - bad for students, nearly useless for restoring operating funds.

2.Hold state leaders responsible for the cuts that forced the hikes. The Regents should say this: We had a Higher Education Compact with the Governor. It held us to 3% annual increases, and then, when things got tough, the governor reneged on the deal. The same happened with the legislature: we got the bipartisan shaft. We are going to explain to every student and every parent just what you all have done to their university. We will ask them to ask you to explain how you will fix it. If you can’t or won’t fix it, we will ask them to vote you out of office – as enemies of students, of public higher education, and of the future of the state.

3. We have a new "Compact." It is not with Sacramento this time. It is a “Compact with UC Students.” Our Compact with them is this: we will not charge them more for less.  We will set a minumum investment per undergraduate student that maintains UC quality (as the Academic Senate recommended in 2008).  We will establish a multi-year strategy for sustaining this investment, with clear revenue goals.These will center on repeated increases in state funding requests. Any fee hikes will be strictly limited, devoted to enhancing educational quality, and their uses will be clearly defined. If we cannot do this with the current scale of enrollments, we will shrink enrollments. And we as UC leaders will join with students, staff, and faculty in tracing the problem to Sacramento, starting with Governor Schwarzenegger, because it is a problem no remotely affordable fee hikes can fix.

There are risks in this kind of strategy. But a loss of 40% of of enrollment-corrected state funding from 1990 to 2005, and another 25% in the past 2, says that the conflicted high-fee public model has failed - and has failed faster the faster that fees  rise.   UC's truly amazing students deserve much better than this, and the Regents need to do something besides pass the hikes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009
by Michael Meranze

As we head into this week’s Regents meeting and the imminent increase of student fees, Andrew Dickson is right to draw attention to the political and funding implications of the recent PPI poll on higher education. The results, as he makes clear, are sobering. The public, at least as represented in the poll, thinks well of the Community Colleges, CSU, and UC, believes that higher education is important for the state, and is concerned about its future. But a strong majority is unwilling to pay higher taxes to help higher education overcome recent cuts and a sizeable minority thinks that if we simply used funds more effectively everything would be fine. Dickson emphasizes the difficulties inherent in these poll results. I want to point here in another direction. The poll indicates, I think, that while there is no real consensus on how to move ahead and that public opinion is contradictory, UCOP’s plans to rebuild UC on the basis of student fees is a self-defeating strategy. Not only will it prove economically insufficient but it will likely start a death spiral in state support. In the end, the University cannot survive that spiral—at least not as a public university of 10 strong campuses.

The long-term task we face is to stop UCOPs strategy of trying to shift university funding from the State to the students. That will not be an easy task. There seems to be no end in sight for the continuing and worsening budget news. While some cuts—especially to education—were limited by Federal stimulus money that money will run out by next year. The Governor and his allies are threatening even more substantial cuts not only to education but to those most in need of state funds. Mike Genest, Schwarzenegger’s outgoing finance director (and source of support for President Yudof’s mantra that the state is not a reliable partner) revealed that he looked into the possibility of California giving up statehood in order to become a federal territory.

Given the crises of the State budget, the PPI poll offers a series of sobering points. As Andrew Dickson reports, the Poll results show that 56% of the public is unwilling to raise taxes in support of higher education. This fact does have some ambiguity to it: 56% of Democrats are willing to raise taxes whereas 58% of independents and 74% of Republicans are not. Republican opposition I take to be hard opposition—after all low taxation is an article of faith for the California Republican Party. The question is whether the numbers could be changed for the Democrats and the Independents. In the short run the answer seems to be no. The recession has hit the state hard and people are reluctant to add to their own economic burdens. The significant lack of confidence in State leaders (the poll suggests that only 21% approve of Arnold’s handling of higher education and only 16% approve of the Legislature’s handling of the problem) probably increases the public’s reluctance to commit to further funding. Moreover, while a majority of the respondents believe that the University needs both additional funding and to use its funds more effectively, there is a sizeable minority (38%) who believe that the University could solve its problems simply by being more efficient. On the other hand, 70% of the respondent’s indicated that they thought that the budget cuts for higher education were a “big problem.”

This sort of contradiction, of course, is nothing new to California politics nor is it limited to higher education. Since at least the 1980s Californians have assumed that they could gain high quality public services without having to pay for them. Moreover, there has been widespread misinformation about the tax system (which is far more regressive than most admit) and about the alleged effectiveness and wisdom of California’s commitment to mass incarceration (which as even Andrew Dickson’s conclusion suggests is a too easily accepted political meme. The structure of State governing power after Proposition 13 was all but designed to make the State inefficient with the predictable result of loss of confidence. But the Great Recession has made these long-standing problems more severe and it does no good to ignore that.

But there are difficulties peculiar to our situation. The difficulties are easy to name: the Regents and UCOP are determined to switch our funding onto students and private sources and the Oakland-based Senate Leadership are unwilling to resist that process (indeed all indications are that they are active supporters). The Regents have refused suggestions that the fee increases have a sunset clause or that an audit be completed before imposing higher fees. The Gould Commission is pushing ahead with its plans to remake the University in a matter of months (and it doesn’t seem coincidental that Russell Gould and Christopher Edley were opposed to slowing down the process—after all that might allow more alternatives to appear).

On the other hand, the protests and objections from students, staff, and faculty and the challenges from local Senate committees do seem to be having an impact. New questions arise continually about the use of student fees and about the colleges’ possible subsidization of the professional schools. UCOP has been forced to respond more and more to the dissatisfaction of the campuses. And President Yudof’s indication, on the eve of the Regents meeting to discuss fee increases that he would seek $913M in additional funding from the State suggests that he too is feeling the public pressure against explicitly giving up on the State.

It is in this context that the contradictions of the PPI poll take on their greatest importance. It is true that 56% of the respondents were unwilling to pay more in taxes but 62% were “very concerned” and 27% were “somewhat concerned” about raising fees for students. At the same time 57% were “very concerned” and 29% were “somewhat concerned” about admitting fewer students due to the budget crisis with almost identical numbers for reducing classes. When asked if they were willing to raise student fees to make up for budget cuts 68% said no (although to be complete I should note that 67% were willing to have a sliding scale for fees). Even more striking, at least to me, is that when asked what was the most important problem facing higher education, 31% thought student costs and affordability and 26% thought the lack of state funding while only 2% pointed to the politics of professors and only another 2% pointed to teaching or instruction. Despite all the summer fears about the hostility to the University and the professorate, the public doesn’t seem all that worried.

These results suggest to me that the University will pursue UCOP’s present strategy at great risk to itself and to higher education. The public is not in favor of fee increases to compensate for budget cuts (which appears to be President Yudof’s plans). If fees continue to be raised it seems likely that the public will become more alienated from the higher education, they will turn their backs on the institutions, and we will begin a race to the bottom for state funding. Nor can the University continue to raise fees indefinitely if it hopes to retain students. Already there are signs that private colleges are gaining enrollments due to the rising costs and decreasing offerings at CSU and UC. Without romanticizing what UC has been in the past we can be assured that if the Regents and UCOP continue their present strategy UC will cease to be the world-renowned system that it is now. CSU is equally stressed: their applications are increasing dramatically as they are forced to cut back on admissions. CSU leaders have been more outspoken in opposition to these changes than have the UC Regents. But they cannot reverse this process alone.

We may not be able to stop the fee increases in the short term. But there are possibilities to reconnect with the public’s desire for an open and excellent public university system funded by the state. Kristin Peterson and Mary Furner have suggested a variety of strategies to engage the public. These will, admittedly, take time. Our internal challenges—most especially in stopping the Gould Commission’s rush to judgment—will remain. But despite the cautions that Andrew Dickson has raised there is a reservoir of commitment to public higher education in the state. Californians remain committed to their system of higher education, continue to think that college education matters, and continue to think that the state’s future is tied up with its universities and community colleges.

We are facing a new version of the battle of the books. But whereas earlier battles concerned the ancients and the moderns ours is somewhat different. The Governor, the Regents, UCOP and UCOF seem to think that the only books that matter are accountants’ books. The public knows better. But we need to offer clearer accounts of how higher education matters and propel UCOP into doing the same—and these accounts need to come from all parts of the University. If we are unable to do this then we, UC, CSI, the Community Colleges and the State will be the losers. And in that case, I doubt that even the winners will savor their victory.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009
The Department of English at Riverside has issued a letter of solidarity in response to the Budget Crisis. President Yudof has responded here.
Thanks to Bob Samuels for these notes on the UC Commission on the Future meeting this past week.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009
Yesterday there was a Town Hall meeting at UCSD to discuss campus budget recommendations:
"This open forum will provide an opportunity for faculty, staff and students to communicate directly with members of the Joint Senate-Administration Task Force on Budget. The Task Force is charged with providing recommendations for sustaining UC San Diego’s academic excellence during budget reductions, while protecting our core missions of research and education through cost savings, increased efficiency, and increased non-State revenues. We encourage you to attend and share your vision and ideas regarding the UC San Diego of Tomorrow."
As might have been expected there were a number of well-argued statements as to why the University deserved more funds from the State of California. One of these referred to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) for which one of the findings was that:
Californians give high grades to their public higher education systems but are worried about increased student costs and state budget cuts.
At the UCSD meeting it was mentioned that the poll had been headlined on our local public radio station, and that the message was that the public were strongly supportive of UC. A tweet from Mark Yudof also states:
Meeting with the UC Commission on the Future here in Oakland. We are also reviewing the new PPIC poll that shows CA holds UC in high esteem.
Sadly, the poll itself is not so unambiguous. The actual question was "Overall, is the ___ doing an excellent, good, not so good, or poor job? UC polled as 13% excellent, 49% good. However, the community colleges polled a little higher (13% excellent, 52% good) while CSU was close (9% excellent; 52% good). Given the estimated 2% margin of error for the poll it might be fair to say (as PPIC did) that all sectors of California higher education are held in equivalent high esteem.

Unfortunately perhaps, the poll contained other questions (in addition to the oft-reported lack of confidence in state government). Some perhaps more problematic results (from the PPIC news release):

Given the high value that most Californians place on spending for higher education, what would they be willing to do to offset state spending cuts?

  • 68 percent are unwilling to increase student fees. Solid majorities across parties, regions, and demographic groups concur.
  • 56 percent are unwilling to pay higher taxes. Although 56 percent of Democrats are willing to pay higher taxes for this purpose, 58 percent of independents and 74 percent of Republicans are not.
  • 53 percent would support a higher education construction bond measure on the 2010 ballot. But support is lower among likely voters (46% yes, 47% no) for this hypothetical bond measure and would fall short of the simple majority threshold needed to pass such a measure. Here, too, a partisan split emerges, with 61 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents saying they would vote yes on a bond and 55 percent of Republicans saying they would vote no.

Half (50%) of Californians believe that major changes are needed in the higher education system— a 10-point increase from last year—and 39 percent say minor changes are needed. When asked the best method for significantly improving California’s higher education system, about half (52%) say a combination of better use of existing state funds and increased funding is the answer. Just 7 percent say increased funding alone is the key and 38 percent say just using existing funds more wisely is best.

So, UC is not considered special (or at least any more excellent than the other CA higher education sectors); there is a belief that higher education fails to use its existing funds sufficiently wisely; and there is a significant resistance to increasing taxes to support higher education in the state. At the same time, increases in fees are seen as problematic.

I suspect we ignore such views at our peril. Furthermore, despite comments I have heard lamenting the cost of our prisons, I still suspect many of our neighbors would rather see an unemployed professor sitting on their street corner than an unemployed felon!