Possible merger talks begin

    The University of California and the Monterey Institute of International Studies have begun preliminary talks to incorporate the institute into the UC system. If the Monterey Institute does become a part of the university, the 48-year-old graduate school would be administered as a unit of UC Santa Cruz in a similar manner in which the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is a part of UCSD.

    Despite the state budget shortfall, both UC and Monterey Institute officials are excited with the possibility of the merger.

    “”The institute has a unique and distinguished history in serving the nation’s need for graduates with a wide-ranging perspective on issues that transcend national boundaries,”” said UC President Richard C. Atkinson in an April 28 statement. “”The University of California is pleased to explore this possibility as a means of enhancing its abilities to serve the state of California and the nation.””

    The Monterey Institute specializes in international studies and offers several graduate degrees that focus on foreign policy, diplomacy and international business.

    “”We’re a small, specialized graduate program in international affairs and there’s a couple of things that we bring that the university doesn’t have. One is a masters program in translation and interpretation and the second one is our Center for Nonproliferation Studies,”” said Monterey Institute President Chet Haskell.

    The addition of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies would be a significant addition to the university if the merger were to occur. The CNS is the largest nongovernmental organization in the world devoted to curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and is the only graduate research center that focuses on nonproliferation policy.

    No timeline for the merger has been set and many academic and financial issues have yet to be resolved. Both UC and Monterey Institute officials will begin talks to reach a memorandum of understanding.

    Officials are also aware of state budget difficulties, but are stating that discussion would be too early to have any details on an implementation plan.

    Another issue that would be addressed is the tuition disparity between the two academic institutions. Unlike the University of California, the Monterey Institute is a private institution and has an annual graduate tuition of $22,180.

    “”For California residents, the [tuition] difference would be significantly different … But it’s speculation right now how the actual numbers would be, we’re still working on that,”” Haskell said.

    With the current financial shortfall, funding for the proposed merger is a concern that UC officials are looking at.

    “”One of the things that we’re also keenly aware of is the fact that if and when the institute were to be incorporated into UC, we would need state funding for an enrollment increase of approximately 700 students,”” said UC spokesperson Chuck McFadden. “”It may be that by the time the affiliation becomes final — if it ever does become final — the state might be in a better fiscal situation than it is right now.””

    However, both parties remain optimistic that these differences and concerns will be solved through discussions.

    “”There are a number of interesting institutional arrangements like the Hastings School of Law and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography,”” Haskell said. “”The intention here is that while the institute would be administered on behalf of the university by UCSC, it would be for the benefit of the entire university system.””

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