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Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Berkeley Law Dean Tees Off on Petition Writers


The profound lack of knowledge reflected in the petition is utterly
staggering. continue reading


Andrew Dickson said...

I fear this further exemplifies the need for this blog! Although it may well be impractical for "masses of faculty and staff (to) spend the time to become proficient in budget tradeoffs, and sensitive to competing values and goals", it is surely appropriate that those that do be able to communicate effectively to the others.

It is the lack of transparency in the University's Budget, and the poor effectiveness with which its consequences have been communicated to the rank and file, that has led to the apparently broadly held feeling that we are being held hostage by a crisis (no matter how real the crisis).

It is fair to say that at my own campus, though the budget strictures over the past few years have been real the attitude has been to take the medicine with the hope that it will all be well in the morning. The (seemingly) sudden switch to "the sky is falling" naturally raises suspicions.

Lisa Hajjar said...

Here is my reply to Dean Edley.

Dear Dean Edley,
I didn't author the petition, but in my opinion it is responsive to
the current situation which, as you note, started long ago, but has
taken a particular shape (proposed furloughs among others) only in the
last months.

I agree wholeheartedly that there need to be positive pro-active
responses, not just (as you suggest, johnny-come-lately hysteria) refusals and protests to proposed cuts. Your cyber-campus suggestion (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-edley1-2009jul01,0,6964045.story)
is one such idea in circulation, but certainly others can be developed and considered, too.

I do not agree with your point, however, that it is "just a provocative fantasy" to be critical of the UC administration's
handling of the situation politically. Certainly, things COULD have been far worse. But could they have been FAR LESS worse?

The current activism (including but in no way limited to the
circulating petition) builds on networks and actions that have
developed over years in response to the effects of UC campus budgets
that have been cut to the bone, coupled with rising layoffs and fees for declining quality of education, given all the cuts. The petition expresses criticism of the administration's position that the way to deal with the current situation is by cutting more. This risks the UC as we know it--a world class system of higher education--and is profoundly demoralizing for everyone.

I definitely believe that positive and constructive suggestions, and
not just protests, are essential at this juncture. My preference would be for the administration and the Regents to develop a plan to pursue the revenue stream of out-of-state students, which would allow for the restoration and growth rather than demise of the UC. Such an income-generating plan for the UC would be good for the university, the state, and public education at every level; if state money is not made available by the legislature to the UC, then non-state alternatives would, in principle, enable more state money to be directed to other parts of the public educational system (that can't or doesn't attract out-of-state students), including the community colleges that are feeders to the UC.

I would suggest that the current cost of out-of-state tuition be
slightly reduced to make the option more appealing, and the number of out-of-state students admitted be increased (in double-digits). This might even allow for the planned--and currently aborted--growth of the total student population of the UC system.

What is sacrificed by increasing the number of out-of-state students
is the guarantee of so many seats to Californians. But what is there
to preserve and fight for if the university itself is gutted by cuts
and the quality of education declines precipitously? Better to SAVE THE UNIVERSITY, which hires people, sustains economies, and can
contribute to recovery.

Lisa Hajjar

Lisa Hajjar said...

And here is Dean Edley's reply to my reply:

Dear Professor Hajjar -- Thanks for your reply.

On non-resident students: Yes, I know for a fact that this was explored by the President and Chancellors. There are three major problems. First, only 2 campuses have a significant number of non-resident students and are likely to attract substantially more at current tuition levels. Second, changing the tuition levels for NRT would raise the issue of having different undergraduate tuition levels at different campuses, which is a huge deal that will require many months if not years of yammering, to an uncertain conclusion. Third, the campuses farthest from their current enrollment targets tend to be the same ones that would have trouble boosting non-resident students. At the two campuses with "excess" non-resident demand, including Berkeley, there is already over-enrollment, meaning that there are more California students attending than the state is paying the University to educate -- which translates into overcrowding, higher student-faculty ratios, etc. Admitting more non-residents would mean exacerbating those quality problems, or displacing California residents. Nevertheless, I'm pretty confident based on what I've heard, that those Chancellors who have wiggle room in their admissions to do so, will admit more non-residents at least as part of a temporary gap-closing measure.

It is also inevitable that the strategic planning task force that will be announced at the Regents meeting will have the non-resident enrollment issue on its agenda. I think the Chair of the Regents and President Yudof will co-chair the group, and I think it will move expeditiously because both of those gentlemen have a good measure of impatience in their temperaments.

I don't claim that every conceivable option has been exhaustively considered. But I do think that the hundreds of faculty and administrators who have been working on this at 10 campuses plus UCOP for several months have covered a lot of territory. It would be miraculous if there are readily discoverable revenue-raising strategies that haven't been rejected or perhaps deferred for more deliberative consideration. On the other hand, it would also be miraculous if still more effort, through the new strategic planning committee, doesn't come up with some additional creative options.

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