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Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014
By Michael Moon (Emory University) 

After twenty years of teaching in English departments at two other universities, eight years ago I moved to Emory where I took up a professorship in American Studies in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts, a doctoral program in interdisciplinary studies founded around sixty years ago.  In fall 2012, the university announced plans to end the interdisciplinary doctoral program in its current form – in hopes, it was said, of fostering the broader development of interdisciplinary work through other departments.  As of now, a year and more after the announcement, the institutional form and main structures of support for interdisciplinary research and teaching at Emory seem very much up in the air. 

In the year before the changes in the interdisciplinary doctoral program were announced, I had already negotiated moving half my appointment to the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  Last year, in the aftermath of the announcement, I moved the remaining half out of the Graduate Institute and into the English department.

So from one perspective, it looks as though I’m back – or halfway back – in an English department after a substantial detour through interdisciplinary studies and American Studies.  But I should mention that I entered this profession in the late 1980s, and that what got taken up by the US academy as LGBTQ Studies and the then-emergent field of queer theory has been at least as much a focus of my teaching and research for the past twenty-odd years as American literature has been.  I co-directed a program in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Johns Hopkins and am currently directing an initiative in queer studies at Emory.  My accepting a cross-appointment in a department of women’s, gender & sexuality studies this past year marks the first time in my by-now fairly long academic career that my commitment to queer studies and sexuality studies has been reflected in the name and mission of the department in which I have an official appointment.  In just the past few years, the department itself has expanded its name and range from being solely a Women’s Studies department to being a department of Gender & Sexuality Studies as well.

So, as you can see, before the merging and closing of departments became a widespread matter of concern, I undertook my own ad hoc set of experiments in mixing and moving among departments, disciplines, and interdisciplines.  Based on my own experience of rethinking and renegotiating my own relation to various programs and departments, I feel I can see not only some of the possible necessities but also some of the potential advantages of merging departments and disciplines.  I can also see some of the costs and dangers of doing so under the pressures that faculty are currently feeling and with the kinds of demands that we are currently facing.

Early in my time as a director of a Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies program, I remember making my annual call on an administrator to negotiate the next academic year’s budget.  He astonished me by beginning the conversation by saying something like the following to me, “How many more years do you and your colleagues intend to keep asking for resources for this program?  I mean, you’re in English,” he went on, “and there’ll always be an English department, but how many more years is there going to be a ‘need’ for a program like this one?”  In the moment, it struck me as even more concerning that he appeared to be saying this in all earnestness and not in a fit of pique.  He said it as though he expected me to name a fairly small number – we plan to keep coming back for support for two more years? three more years? – and get on with the meeting.  Instead, I said that English departments had certainly not been around forever or even for very long compared with a lot of other academic disciplines, and that it was quite possible that English departments might soon be morphing into other kinds of academic and institutional configurations.  But it seemed clear to me that we really weren’t there to debate the future of English departments, but for him to impress on me his vision of fields such as Women’s or Gender or Sexuality Studies as mere flashes in the academic pan.

Some years later, when the closing and combining of departments first began to be discussed widely, I remember a colleague reporting another conversation with an administrator about the bases on which decisions about these sweeping changes were going to be made.  Well, some departments, the administrator is reported to have opined, are too vital to the operations of the university to be mixed and matched or simply deleted.  “After all,” the administrator went on, “you can’t have a college without English and chemistry!”

The notion that English departments are permanent fixtures on the academic landscape might seem like good news at least to the faculty of English departments, but the way this “good news” is playing itself out is giving at least some of us in the field considerable pause.  What some administrators currently mean by an “English department” seems to me in the main not to be a place or a project that serves the intellectual and professional needs of my students or myself very well.  English departments turned out to serve the needs of faculty and students in queer studies for the first twenty years or so of my career in large part because many of them had – often through a process of prolonged conflict and division – turned themselves into major seedbeds of interdisciplinary growth during the 1970s and ‘80s, so that many fields which have since developed in varying degrees into autonomous disciplines, departments, and programs (critical theory, gender studies, lesbian and gay studies, queer theory, film and media studies, the whole spectrum of ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, etc.) spent their first decade or so as emergent academic fields as flourishing sub-projects of this or that English department. 

So one feature of the current academic landscape that disturbs me is the relentless shutting-down of anglophone literary studies as the kind of expansive set of interdisciplinary intellectual spaces which they’ve provided at many universities for the past several decades.  More and more, English departments are being reconceived as being primarily in the business of teaching expository writing, and the “contents” of courses in literature – both critical and historical “contents” – are being devalued and dismissed as “overly specialized” and “irrelevant” to the present-day mission of the with-it university. 

Similarly, the ecology of methods of interpreting a wide range of writings, literary and otherwise – e.g., “close reading” – is getting brutally reduced in many universities in the rush to make literary studies an outpost of “digital scholarship,” often itself conceived in fairly reduced form.  Many of the wide range of fields and practices currently operating under the umbrella of “digital scholarship” are still emerging and still defining themselves and establishing their connections with other academic fields and practices.  For better and for worse, the continuing impact of the digital turn within and beyond the academy is having massive effects on the entire range of disciplines and departments, effects that are changing and expanding our received ways of thinking about interdisciplinarity altogether. 

I believe that English departments will continue to lose intellectual and cultural ground to the degree that they continue to yield the high investment in interdisciplinarity that many of them have maintained until recently.  The digital turn affords us some very promising new ways of cultivating interdisciplinarity not only across departments but also across media and platforms. The current moment seems to me to be one when it may be both possible and highly desirable for the faculty of some English departments to re-exert our longstanding commitments to a still unpredictably wide range of interdisciplinary research and teaching as an integral part of what English departments do.  The disciplines and interdisciplines through which we now need to move may be quite a different configuration from the ones that we moved through in the 1980s and ‘90s.  Whatever the new mix turns out to be, it seems crucial to me that we as literary scholars and teachers play as active a role as we can in defining that mix, and not accept a one-size-fits-all redefinition of the English department from administrators, however well or ill meaning they may be.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014
Governor Brown announced the names of his first 4 nominations to the Board of Regents.  Two of his appointments (Richard Blum and Norman Pattiz) are already on the Board and one of the appointments Monica Lozano had served for the previous 12 years.  For his first truly new appointment the Governor chose Richard Sherman, who has been CEO at the David Geffen Company since 1992.  According to the LAT, Blum, Pattiz, and Sherman have all contributed to the Brown's recent political campaigns.  If all four are confirmed the Board will still have 3 other vacancies left.

To say that these appointments are disappointing would be a massive understatement.  The Governor has made a point to show up at Regents meetings and has insisted that he wants to have an open and thoughtful discussion of new ways to sustain the university.  Yet in his first effort to name Regents he chooses to return two of the leading architects of present university policy (one of whom was chair during 2007-2009), asked back someone who already served 12 years, and for his new appointment has reached out to the Hollywood business elite.

I'm not going to get into the various questions that concern the individual Regents.  The more important point, I think, is that this reinforces the sense that Governor is quite comfortable with the managerial and corporate status quo at the University.  To be sure, he is happy to encourage debatable initiatives that assume that courses can be treated as song downloads and pretend that they will be cheaper.  But when it comes to approaching the University as an academic and educational institution he seems uninterested.  Nor has he shown much interest in finding people from outside the established business and political elite.

He could do better.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
As Chris noted in his last post, Governor Brown's proposed higher education budget contained few surprises.  Unfortunately, that means that his budget fails to address the real funding and resource shortfalls facing the three segments and will serve to strengthen the hands of those--like retiring Berkeley EVC George Breslauer--who advocate piecemeal privatization.  Although Brown correctly notes that he has staunched the cuts that have plagued higher education since the Great Recession--while ignoring his own role in the earlier cuts--the realities of his proposals display his unwillingness to do more than allow for a permanent underdevelopment of higher education. He lets himself appear as more of a friend to the sector than his proposals warrant.

In his discussion, Chris emphasized two points:  first the likelihood that Brown's budget plans would lead UC to rely more and more on lecturers and adjuncts and second, that it will increase the turn towards what EVC Breslauer refers to as "unit-level entrepreneurialism." (3)  Each demands attention.  Although the number of tenure track positions at UC has increased since 2007 the bulk of that increase is due to expansion at Merced.  (see the relevant statistics here)  At CSU there were in 2012 fewer tenure track faculty than there were in 2007 (14)  This despite increases in enrollments.  Nor is there any evidence that "unit-level entrepeneurialism" is likely to decrease: the recent proposal on policies for approving self-supporting programs is only one example.

But I want to focus on two other issues that underline the Governor's support (intentional or not I cannot say) both for privatization and for a policy discourse that conceals the question of privatization itself.

First: By tying state funding growth to a freeze on tuition while funding the sectors below the funds they need to face their challenges, the Governor effectively encourages campuses to increase the number of their non-resident students.  An increase in the number of non-resident students is, after all, the simplest way under the present funding regime for campuses to increase their revenue.  This situation is compounded by the severing of state funding from enrollment numbers.  I know that UC and CSU administrators might prefer this situation.  After all, it allows them to curtail enrollment if they want without losing funding.  And it avoids the traditional problem of enrolling more students than the state was supporting.  But it also means that there is no economic incentive for campuses to enroll an additional resident student compared to a non-resident student.  Now I realize that politically this is unlikely--UC is unlikely to curtail in-state enrollment and risk the damage that would result; CSU only does it under extreme duress.  But if Brown and UC were really concerned to, in the words of President Napolitano, "Teach for California, Research for the World," they would create a new funding model in which the state actually funded all resident students rather than encouraging campuses implicitly to seek out non-residents because of their economic value. 

This encouragement of non-resident enrollment, in turn, has several likely long-range effects--even leaving aside the more extreme market-derived prognostications of people like Brad DeLong.  First, despite UCOP's claims that the increase in non-resident enrollments does not curtail educational opportunities for residents, it is quite clear that it does.  UCOP may be right that there is no one-to-one swap out of resident for non-resident (although Berkeley did try that not too long ago) but even when that doesn't occur the effect is to place greater strain on the teaching, research, and support elements of the campus.  Given that the numbers of tenure-track faculty are not growing in accord with the increase in student numbers the faculty-student ratio will increase.  The Governor seems indifferent to this reality.  Moreover, it seems likely that the growth of NRT and especially international students will only increase inequality within the higher education system.  The greater resources of UC will be compounded compared to CSU and within UC the resources of those campuses that can draw international students most effectively (at this point Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego) will grow faster than other campuses (Davis I believe plans to join the pursuit in a big way).  Put another way, Governor Brown's strategy is a strategy for increasing inequality within higher education.

Brown, of course, insists that given tuition increases over the last 5 years, the sectors have increased their total core funds even with state cutbacks.  But this is one of the clearest examples of why the notion of a "dollar is a dollar is a dollar" is false.  For under present circumstances, where UC's accessibility is tied to its financial aid programs rather than its tuition levels, a dollar in tuition is worth less than a dollar in state funding.  This is for the simple reason that approximately 1/3 of every tuition dollar needs to go to maintaining financial aid rather than to the educational operations of the institution.  Even Speaker Perez's effort to expand state financial aid simply deepens the fundamental logic.  For both treat support for higher education as a private and privatized good and not as a public shared function.  The economic burdens fall on students and their families.  And to make matters worse, as Chris pointed out in November the Governor has suggested that the increase Speaker's increase of financial aid is held as an alternative to increased funding for the University.

Second:  Both the Governor and the Legislative Analyst display a highly confused sense of higher education costs.  The key here, as Chris pointed out, is the emphasis on on-line courses as a mechanism for lowering costs and price.  The issue is not only that 2013 demonstrated that current technologies do not save labor costs nor work effectively in helping students overcome previous educational failings.  The issue is that what Brown tries to dismiss as "high-cost traditionalism" is not being driven by instruction (whose costs as Bob Samuels and others have pointed out has actually gone down over time) but by the demands of research--especially scientific research.  And the way that those costs are borne by universities.

Now before people blow a gasket I am not arguing here against research (scientific or otherwise) nor do I think that scientists are somehow at fault here.  The problem--which the Governor and others refuse to recognize--is that society expects universities to be the center of basic research, that the way that research is organized creates a large administrative structure as well demands expensive infrastructure, and that the costs of this structure combined with the infrastructure exceeds the funding (both direct and indirect) provided for scientific research.  Nor does this take into account the labor costs faced by researchers of responding to the various administrative and oversight demands.  Brown's rhetoric suggests that UC can cut costs through instructional technology (his insistence that instructional technology can overcome the challenges CSU faces is a whole other problem); but this emphasis on instruction prevents the open discussion of the real costs of basic research, of the demands placed on (or seized by) universities to perform needed research, and the willingness of society to support that research adequately.  As debates over the sequester and new practices at the NIH have made clear this is not a problem that is going to go away.  Universities have been able to overcome some of the shortfall through cross-subsidies.  But as the core of public funding is hollowed out those cross-subsidies will become less possible and both instruction and research will suffer.

If the Governor truly wants a discussion about the priorities of higher education he would need to move beyond the narrow confines of budget "realism" and trigger a debate about actual costs (for instance the balance between medical centers and campuses).  In exchange for the possibility of arguing for adequate funding, the Governor should demand from the systems clearer financial accounting (if you talk with Sacramento you quickly will see how frustrated they are at the lack of transparency). 

So, when the Governor insists that UC and CSU should simply make do, he not only is securing a state of continuing underdevelopment of higher ed, but, especially in the case of UC, he is encouraging a privatization of the University that will serve no one in the long run.  To make matters worse, in failing to grapple with the actual responsibilities and costs of higher education he prevents a public debate about what higher education for a better society would actually look like. Otherwise he is simply pretending leadership.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014
There are no nasty surprises in the governor's budget proposal for higher education. For UC it's pretty much what we've heard: a 5 percent increase in state general funding in 2014-15 (stated as fractionally higher than that), and 4 percent increases in the two years to follow. These small increases leave the 2014-15 state share 14 percent below the 2007-08 level (Figure HED-01).  Following Gov. Brown's previous statements, these increases are made contingent on a tuition freeze.

The budget proposal has some contradictions that UCLA FA Blog explains.  I am if anything even more concerned than my colleague about the "Wall of Debt" alarmism in Figure INT-03 (page 4) as it affects both retirement and state investment, but that's a topic for another time.

The governor's framing narrative confirms that the historic state funding model is dead. This isn't the first time we've pointed this out (here's my November post on the subject, and Michael's from February on Sacramento austerity).  But the official proposal document is quite explicit this time.

First, after offering some moving language bout how important higher education is to the future of the state, the budget proposal asserts that the universities' requests to start rebuilding public funding are based in their "business-as-usual model of providing instruction" (35).  It defines what we normally think of as UC's combination of research and instruction  as the "highest cost-structure" which "receives the highest per-student subsidy" (36).  There is no mention of what that money does, other than express high-cost traditionalism.

The document does not offer a single example of high-cost business-as-usual so that we could understand what the governor's Department of Finance is talking about. I assume DOF means that UC and CSU haven't converted many or most of their courses to on-line.  If 2012 was the Year of the MOOC, 2013 was the year of the bust, both of educational claims for MOOCs, which even Udacity's founder has described as greatly exaggerated, and of the claims for huge cost savings.  My analysis of the budget for the Udacity-Georgia Tech online engineering masters showed no cost savings for online programs that produce decent results, and we are still waiting for the technology that delivers high quality at a new low cost.   The legs have been cut out from under the claim that something about face-to-face instruction fails to exploit massive potential savings--and yet the governor justifies ongoing low investment on that failed claim.

Obviously the governor thinks he is providing management incentives to improve, and there are certainly things about UC management and organization that can be improved. In reality, operational improvements take time and money, as the history of failed corporations abundantly proves.  Absent reinvestment--and internal UC organizational reforms--Gov. Brown's austerity will have two effects:

  • UC will make greater use of adjunct teaching labor (it has above-average tenure-track ratios now, but won't be able to sustain them).  This will happen at the very moment in which the factory model is obsolete, and yet that is increasingly all that UC can afford.  UC students need the same individualized, active learning that their friends at Stanford get so that they can succeed in creative industries, and yet this is exactly what the state's massive cuts and austerity restorations are not going to pay for.  Do Californians really want their public university children to get the leftovers of the creativity industries and whatever else Stanford's D-lab has put on TED?  That, unfortunately, is the funding model, even if we all manage to rise above it.
  • UC will shift an ever-higher proportion of its daily energy to what UC Berkeley EVC George Breslauer calls "unit-level entrepreneurialism, in the article that was the subject of Tuesday's Remaking post, EVC Breslauer is entirely right that this is what the austerity university is doing and will do: break down the campus into units, break down unit into discreet activities, and then charge a toll for each of the activities that can possible bear one.  Some are trivial, like renting rooms for weddings, and others, like executive education, divert resources and energy away from public education and towards forums that are exclusive because of their enormous surcharges.  EVC Breslauer estimates that this will yield $10-20 million. This is a fraction of the Berkeley campus budget, and comes with high transaction costs (could someone in higher ed management circulate Ronald Coase's "The Nature of the Firm" (1937) or at least the Wikipedia entry.  Could Brad Delong write a memo?). Above all, it will change its practices on the metabolic level from open to closed, from free to taxable--exactly as the governor's budget requires.

The governor is also ending the state's obligation to pay for enrolled resident students.  This has two parts.  First, some state funding is shifting from allocations to UC to scholarships for students (again see my November post mentioned above). The state will be more like the federal government, and funding more like a voucher program.  The second part is equally serious, which is that the state will simply not provide funding based on per-student workload.

 The Administration’s long‑term plan moves away from funding higher education based on enrollment targets. By itself, enrollment‑based funding does not encourage institutions to focus on critical outcomes — affordability, timely completion rates, and quality programs — nor does it encourage institutions to better integrate their efforts to increase productivity given the state’s investment. Instead, it builds upon the existing institutional infrastructure, allowing public universities and colleges to continue to deliver education in the high‑cost, traditional model.

Actually, we do need to build upon existing infrastructure to provide educational services. The state hasn't been doing this properly, and to imply that stable funding inherently corrupts is straight-up Thatcherite right-wing ideology for which there has never been decent evidence.

Why is the Brown administration using far-right arguments to justify a failure to meet the real higher educational needs of the state? Is UCOP actually contesting this? Could somebody up there find out? The current path, and its incoherent justifications, leads onto very bleak terrain.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
By Anonymous

In the last month of 2013 we were treated to two celebrations of the enduring public character of UC Berkeley.   Not surprisingly Frederick Wiseman’s documentary ‘At Berkeley’, with its portrayal of Cal’s senior managers battling against the twin forces of a dis-investing state and a student movement resisting tuition hikes, got all the attention.  Yet of arguably greater significance was an article by UC Berkeley’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, George Breslauer, that outlined the new common sense and guiding philosophy of Berkeley’s senior management at that time and perhaps still now. 
Wiseman and Breslauer are fiercely critical of a political culture that has enabled the state to disinvest from higher education.  According to Breslauer, even after the passage of Proposition 30 state funds now account for just 14% of Berkeley’s total budget, down from 30% in 1999 and 70% in 1971.  Although, if one includes ‘restricted’ monies from federal and local government about 40% of Berkeley’s revenue comes from public sources, the withdrawal of state funding has indeed been calamitous.  Despite this Breslauer’s polemic is that Berkeley is now more of a public university than it used to be in the fabled Master Plan era.

Breslauer’s contention is that UC Berkeley serves California more effectively now: our student population is more representative of its population, while our graduates contribute more to public service and the state’s economic growth than ever before. He lacks historical data to substantiate any of these claims.  It is not even clear what metrics could be used to establish that Cal graduates, or the research conducted at Berkeley, contribute more to the state’s economy and public service than Stanford.
Nonetheless, it certainly is true that the student body is more diverse now than it once was. Thanks to the state’s changing demographics, the achievements of the civil rights and feminist movements, affirmative action policies and much else besides there have been real advances: 53% of undergraduates are women, and 45% of Californian resident students are Asian-American. There is also still a good way to go to make Berkeley look like the public California.  In 2012, African Americans who make up 7% of the state’s population represented just 3% of undergraduates (down from 5% in 1993), while those who identify as Chicano or Latino make up 35% of Californians accounted for just 13% of students at Berkeley (the same as1993). According to UCOP statistics, just 129 African Americans from California enrolled as freshmen at Berkeley in 2012.

If Berkeley’s undergraduates still fall short of reflecting the racial diversity of California at large, Breslauer paradoxically contends that the dramatic increases in student tuition (up 67% since 2007/8) has allowed it to become socio-economically more diverse.  The Berkeley’s senior management embrace of the ‘high tuition/high aid’ model, he argues, has allowed them to redistribute 33% of resident tuition to low and middle income families: those earning under $80,000 pay no tuition while those with incomes between $80-140,000 receive financial assistance.  There are those who take this argument further suggesting that the old flat and low tuition fee of the Master Plan era represented a subsidy for the 7% of the state who went to a UC from the 93% who did not – and the assumption is that this favored the white, male, middle class over the rest.  In short, the contention is that Berkeley senior management are progressively redistributing wealth through tuition fees
There is a lot to contest here.  Once again there is no historical data to suggest that the very low tuition charges of the Master Plan era (at today's prices tuition costs in the early 1960s were just $1,000 , a decade later they had doubled, and even by the early 1990s they had only reached $4,000) was what restricted admission to the middle classes.  At the very least we would need to consider how a range of other demographic, social, economic and political factors made Berkeley’s students predominantly white, male and middle class half a century ago. The quest for equality of educational opportunity across social classes now is an important one but it can only be achieved by state and federal action not by local actors shifting the burden to a small and random percentage of Californian students who plunge deeper in to debt.  In the meantime the high sticker price of a UC education may well actually deter many in low-income families from considering it as an option.  UCOP’s own figures show that these families earning less than $50,000 still have to pay almost $12,000 a year even after all the scholarships and grants.  

Though empirically unsubstantiated, Breslauer’s arguments nonetheless highlight the central doctrine that makes it possible for him to contend that Berkeley is more than ever a public university - namely that what matters is not where its funding comes from but how it is spent.  For Breslauer it appears a dollar is a dollar is a dollar; as long as funds are used in appropriate ways it does not make any difference whether they come from the state, a private donor, a commercial contract or a student loan.  According to this doctrine the diversification of Cal’s funding model does not represent a step towards privatization if those funds cement the excellence of Berkeley as a public institution.

This is sophistry. It makes a big difference where the money comes from and what power is ceded to those who contribute it. Here is why.

The student debt financing of Cal through rising tuition fees corrodes its public character by making higher education a speculative private investment.  Why should 40% of the class of 2013 graduate with loans averaging 18k (and this before the full force of the tuition hikes of 2009-11 are apparent)?  Their education is in fact a public good that will enrich California economically, politically and culturally.

Private donors and corporations have given generously and their names are increasingly prevalent across the campus in research programs, endowed Chairs, buildings, and even Departments.  We are repeatedly assured that donors do not influence FTE allocation but they can and do influence the direction of research by providing funds and infrastructure in some areas and not others.

Commercial operations have changed the character of the campus.  The persistent and continuing financial drain of Athletics—whose handling itself reflects the influence of a donor-driven outlook—has encouraged a good deal more commercial use of campus spaces as Fox Sports TV recent use of Kroeber Square revealed.  Yet even academic units are now actively encouraged to embrace what Breslauer describes as ‘unit level entrepreneurialism’ to generate ‘new revenue streams’ through commercial use of their assets (namely space, academic programs and online technologies). (3It makes a difference where the money comes from when academics are encouraged to think about revenue generation and campus spaces are commercialized.

And with privatization as diversification comes not just new sources of money but the consolidation of a corporate view of the university.  It is not just the ‘restructuring’ of Bain’s Operation Excellence, or the centralization and removal of staff to remote sites through Shared Services, but the creep of corporate language (of service providers, end-users, markets, unit level entrepreneurialism and customers) that leave many faculty and staff feeling alienated and mystified by who creates the conditions of work.

The mystery is that Breslauer is rightly scathing about state disinvestment in public higher education and acknowledges the corporate creep on campus but he then minimizes the damage they cause (or the need for reversing them) by suggesting that the high tuition/high aid model has made Berkeley a better public university after all.

Keeping Berkeley’s reputation as the world’s best public university despite its growing dependence on private funds and corporate management models is clearly important for Breslauer. It turns out then that saving Berkeley’s brand depends upon claiming it is still a public university. Otherwise it becomes just a larger and poorer alternative to Stanford. 
The elephant in the room here is that it is keeping Cal competitive not maintaining the quality of mass higher education across the University of California that concerns Breslauer. Instead of advocating for public reinvestment his energies are directed at convincing the state to loosen control of UC’s budget, and the Regents to delegate more to campuses, so tuition fees can continue to rise. Berkeley’s senior management are confident that they can continue to raise income from student tuition, capital campaigns, commercial contracts and research grants.  This is Berkeley and if the UC system threatens its ‘excellence’ they would be prepared to go it alone. 
Berkeley is not just a flagship campus. It is part of a system of higher education in California that extends across the ten campuses and through the state universities and community colleges.  The ecology of that system is critical to the health of Cal, the quality of students we teach and the employment opportunities of our graduate students.

If we are really committed to keeping Berkeley a public university we should call for reinvestment by the state.  Proposition 30 went some way to restore, but not make good, the cuts made to public higher education in California by Governor Brown in his first year in office.  It would cost the median tax-payer in California just $50 to restorelevels of student funding to its level in 2000/2001.   Now that is a way to keep Berkeley a public university.