Dean Willy Schonfeld (Emeritus) gave the UCI Forum talk on May 11, 2011 on “Challenges to UCI”, which mainly focused on the current budget crises and the changes that might occur in the UC’s structure and future reputation. Its hard to capture the logic and persuasive nature of the speaker from some notes by a dry Physics professor, but I appreciated his experience in examining and living with UC’s and UCI situation, and will try to list some of his major points.
The first point was that no crises has been seen on the UCI campus for several reasons. Later he did list some of the problems that we have dealt with though. But here are his reasons: (1) reserves that the University and campuses had built up were used to delay the reduction to the max, hoping that it would only be a short term problem; (2) even though there was a one year furlough, but 75% of the faculty found ways not to reduce their salary through grants, although this did not apply to the staff’s salary reductions. (However, the faculty was upset because that money was meant for graduate student support and new equipment.) The merit increase system did continue. The faculty and administration of the campus kept up a false sense of security, making up for the cuts by increased tuition, and increased foreign and out of state students who paid more tuition. In the last decade there have been many new buildings including expensive lab buildings, a new hospital, and new schools of Law and Health Sciences. The faculty grew by 41% over an eight year period. (The faculty also now has to contribute to their retirement, and have had tiny salary increases, and retiree health plan contributions will increase.)
The UC is currently a top rated university system. This is shown by the London Times rating 6 UC campuses in the top 55 world wide, including UCI. His forecast is that this will not be true 10 years from now. US News and World Report had rated UCI in the mid 30s nationwide, ahead of UCSB and UC Davis, but we are now behind them. The National Research Council had rated 141 UC programs in the top 10 in their fields. However, the Office of the President of the UC had only rated UCI with 2, UCSC with 4, and Riverside none. (I didn’t record all the numbers, and haven’t checked this myself.)
What does the future look like?, asks Dean Schonfeld. Where will the replacement funds come from?: students pay more, the community gives more, or from grant funds.
He points out that the one university model for the UC system, dates back to Robert Sproul, and is unique to California. This will come under fire. Firstly, the new UC President comes from Texas, where there is one leading campus. The President is under pressure to make sure that UC Berkeley does not decline, making it a flagship campus. Other leading campuses would be UCLA, and maybe UCSD. Foreign and out of state students look to Berkeley as the most attractive campus. Student would pay more to get a Berkeley degree. The attitude may develop to let the market decide what is the appropriate tuition for each campus. (There is a reply to this idea that was reported in the LA Times, but only on their website by UCI Prof. Peter Krapp.)
There is now more revenue from student fees than from ongoing operations. Gov. Brown had shown limited support for the University in his first term,and may be doing this again. The “all cuts budget” would arise is none of the temporary taxes is extended. The Governor said that UC tuition could be doubled from $11,000 to $20,000 – $25,000 a year to make up for the increased cut in the university budget from the current $500 million, to $1 billion. If it is all cuts, we could expect student protests. However, other programs that will be cut will be to people who cannot pick up the extra funding as the University can by raising tuition, and we should expect protests and pressure from those programs. Therefore, even deeper cuts may be possible. (In my own estimate, the $20,000 – $25,000 tuition means that the students are paying 100% of their education, and would not stand for anything further.) (When the students had a forum with our local assemblyman and other, I would say the turnout was rather poor, but that was before the all cuts budget tuition was publicized.)
Will the University continue its commitment to wider graduate graduate education? Would it require faculty teaching load to increase?
The new policy to increase foreign and out-of-state admissions was looked at for additional revenue. Those new student sources would pay an additional $23,000 tuition a year. (That would cover their education and the tuition of an in state student at the present rate. ) UC Irvine’s present cut is $50 million, and would be $100 million under an all cuts budget. However, the 360 extra students would generate only $5.6 million more, hardly sufficient to cover the cuts.
UCI’s private donations would not be a source to make up for the cuts. We have an endowment of $241 million, that works out to $8,640 a student, and not much of a legacy community since we are a relatively new university campus (1966). Princeton, for comparison, has a $1.9 million endowment per student. Berkeley has a $2.6 billion endowment which comes to $40,000 per student.
In short, there is no alternative source for short term support. Once the University or a campus declines, it is unlikely to regain its hard earned status. Dean Schonfeld feels that the faculty is too positive and not concerned enough about the problem. (My perception is that they feel helpless to prevent it.)