Funding Slashed for Campus L.E.A.D. Center

    The Leadership, Engagement, Activism and Development Center,
    known for helping students develop social and leadership skills outside of the
    traditional classroom environment, was disbanded this year after its funding
    was cut by the Registration Fee Advisory Committee in July.

    “The pure and simple fact was that the cost associated with
    the center exceeded the quality and quantity of the current programs offered,”
    RFAC Chair Garo Bournoutian said in an e-mail.

    The L.E.A.D. Center was created in the 2003-04 academic
    year, when the original proposal for a Student Leadership Engagement and
    Services Center was presented to RFAC, with a yearly operating cost of about
    $65,000 — including one new staff member’s salary. However, the committee
    reviewed the proposal and deemed that it failed to meet specific requirements,
    saying it created an unnecessary overlap of leadership and communication
    programs already provided by other organizations.

    “Given these concerns, the RFAC of 2003-04 decided not to
    fund the new SLES Center that year, but requested more information be provided
    and further analysis done,” Bournoutian
    said.

    The next year, former Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs
    Joseph W. Watson decided to advance the center’s development as a three-year
    pilot program with temporary funding. At the end of the trial period, the
    funding would have to be presented again to RFAC and the committee’s decision
    regarding funding the center in future years would be final, Bournoutian said.

    Although the original SLES concept proposed only one new
    staff member, two additional staff members were hired for the center, nearly
    doubling its yearly operating budget. At that point in time, SLES was renamed
    L.E.A.D. and its mission statement and goals were redrafted.

    Bournoutian said that the yearly operating total presented
    to the committee last year totaled about $186,000, including staff member
    salaries, pay for student interns, supplies and expenses.

    “To put it in perspective, each year the committee is able
    to provide no more than $200,000 total in permanent funds — funds that are
    provided every year, as opposed to just one year,” he said.

    However, he said that budgetary constraints were not the
    only reason the program could not be funded, as the committee concluded that
    costs associated with the center would be better spent enhancing similar
    leadership-oriented programs.

    Although the center was able to expand the Passport to
    Leadership program — a series of free workshops designed to enhance and
    maximize leadership skills — and make additions to other programs, Bournoutian
    said the committee felt the magnitude of the new offerings was not enough.

    Nevertheless, the committee agreed that some form of
    leadership program should exist, and decided to provide about $60,000 to the
    Center for Student Involvement — formerly called Student Organizations and
    Leadership Opportunities — to fund some former L.E.A.D. programs for the new
    fiscal year. RFAC also proposed moving the Express to Success program from
    Revelle College to the student life department, since its objectives were
    similar.

    “The end results were to maintain all the programs offered
    by L.E.A.D., save a substantial amount of money, and consolidate the
    organizational structure of the various involvement, leadership, and
    development offerings at UCSD to be more logical and less confusing to the
    average student,” Bournoutian said. “There were many questions as to what the
    differences were between these programs, and who to see for what purposes.”

    Although the L.E.A.D. Center no longer exists, many of its
    former programs have been adopted by CSI.

    CSI Director Emily Marx said since her office has absorbed
    some of L.E.A.D’s programs — including Passport to Leadership, which was a part
    of CSI before L.E.A.D. was created — it has also received funding for one
    additional full-time position. The department’s “leadership consultants” will
    oversee quarterly projects involving campus communities such as transfer
    students, or assembling a Martin Luther King service, Marx said.

    Although some funds are being freed up by no longer
    supporting L.E.A.D, the program was not in the RFAC’s permanent budget to begin
    with, which minimizes the financial impact of cutting the center’s funding.

    “Removing it did not give us our money back, but left our
    funding pool at the same level,” Bournoutian said. “By reorganizing L.E.A.D.’s
    programs back into CSI, we were able to keep almost all the benefits of
    L.E.A.D., but have the money necessary to fund all these other worthwhile
    programs, such as Psychological Services and Student Legal Services.”

    Sixth College senior Arlene Velasquez, a participant in the
    L.E.A.D. internship program, said she was sad to see it go.

    “I was devastated when I heard the news that L.E.A.D. would
    no longer be on the UCSD campus,” she said. “It was a very hands-on experience
    to develop leadership skills.”

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