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Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rebenching: Coming to a Campus Near You

As those of you who read Jim Chalfant and Susan Gillman's recent post will remember, the systemwide task force on Rebenching recently completed their work.  Although UCOP has not made public the results of their deliberations (I will leave it to you to speculate on why not) the Senate has now posted the report at its website.   This report is a proposal that develops and specifies ideas broached in last summer's report from the "Implementation Task Force" on the rebenching process.

As Jim and Susan indicated, "rebenching" is one of two steps UCOP is taking to reorder the way that funds are distributed within the system.  The first step, the "funding streams initiative" was designed to enable individual campuses to retain more of the funds that they generated.  This second step of "rebenching" aims to overcome historically generated inequalities in the distribution of state funds in order to ensure that any given student is funded at the same rate as any other student within his/her category (so that all undergraduates, all professional school students, all graduate students, all health care students etc are funded at the same rate) no matter what campus they are attending.

This proposal on Rebenching has now been sent to all of the Campuses for discussion within their Senates this fall.  Its final form will affect faculty, staff, and students on all campuses.  So it is worthwhile to read it and to let your local senate and managerial leadership know what you think.  Please feel free to use the comments space here to open discussion or to raise questions.  Hopefully, people with information might be able to address questions. 

At the same time, though, we need to recognize, that "funding streams" and "rebenching" are really only two legs on what needs to be a three-legged stool.  If UC is to achieve the goals of these initiatives it must be able to convince the state to increase state funding.  If UCOP does not succeed in making its case to both the Governor and the Legislature and succeed in persuading the people of the state that it deserves that funding, these twin initiatives will not succeed in holding the system together and improving students' education.  The lack of additional funding will undermine the effort to increase resources to the underfunded campuses without causing the wealthier campuses to fracture the system further in search of increased revenues that they could keep under funding streams.

To make these initiatives work to strengthen the University, it is crucial that the university for the first time in memory begin to articulate a convincing case for the importance of a public research university to the state and to those who enroll at UC, and make that case in terms of the education that will be offered only with additional funding.  In the present economic situation this effort will not be easy of course.  But UC can only succeed if it actually tries.


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