What is Fox’s biggest challenge?

    In the immortal words of Cuba Gooding Jr.: “Show me the money!” That’s what UCSD’s new chancellor, Marye Anne Fox, must do first and foremost. Whether she does it by building hotels on campus land, boosting alumni giving or holding bake sales on her front lawn she must accomplish this task. As California’s population grows, the University of California must serve more and more people at a time when its budget is getting smaller and smaller. While the UC Board of Regents and our past chancellors have done an admirable job trying to maintain the quality of education with drastically decreasing state support, the sad truth of the matter is that the system is near a breaking point. Without strong leadership in finding new revenue streams to replace lost state funding, all UCSD students — present and future — will suffer.

    According to UC officials, the university currently operates on $3 billion in state funding at a time when it was expected to operate on $4 billion, and students are footing a large part of the bill — as everyone noticed when it came time to send in tuition checks. California’s budget crisis is also forcing a reduction in financial aid, potentially pricing students out of UCSD and further homogenizing the student body. Because of the decrease in state funds, our classes will be larger, our teachers and staff compensated more poorly, fewer students will be able to attend UCSD, and less money will be spent on research.

    Add it all up and the message is clear and ominous: Without more funding, UCSD’s ability to provide a quality education at an affordable price is seriously at risk. So far, the university has done an impressive job in maintaining the general quality of education, but it has done so at the cost of increasing the strain on students and decreasing students’ ability to afford college. With private schools sporting generous endowments and generous grant packages, that strain is making UCSD less competitive in attracting top students as well. To maintain UCSD’s status as an elite research university, Fox must stem the tide of rising fees and falling aid.

    In order to do so, Fox must go beyond her predecessor’s initiatives and seek out untapped revenue streams. While UCSD remains one of the best funded research institutions in the world thanks to federal research grants, relatively little money is allocated to increase financial aid. In other words, it’s sexy to have your name on a shiny new research building, but not so much on a scholarship fund. Even the Chancellor’s 5K Run, established by former Chancellor Robert C. Dynes, raised only about $1 million for undergraduate scholarships during Dynes’ tenure as chancellor.

    That $1 million is not even 0.1 percent of UCSD’s operating budget for a single year and would pay for less than 70 full scholarships at today’s rate. UCSD currently enrolls over 20,000 undergraduates.

    With additional funds, many other student concerns could also be addressed: the parking situation could be improved, UCSD’s support of A.S. and related programming could be bolstered or a Black Studies major or minor could be implemented. UCSD could even build more dorms, so that students don’t have to cram into “triples” that are roughly the size of Winnebagos. All of these improvements could also help attract top students, who would likely balk at spending two years paying approximately $800 a month to share a closet.

    So Chancellor Fox, the writing is on the wall. To be remembered as the chancellor who led UCSD out of the California budget crisis, all you have to do is show us the money.

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