Regents Discuss Effects of State Budget Cuts and New Admissions Process

By Regina Ip and Chris McCoy

The UC Board of Regents convened on Jan. 19 in Price Center West Ballroom to discuss a new admissions process in addition to the possibilities of tuition increases, staff reductions and increased non-resident admissions to combat state budget shortfalls.

On the second day of the three-day meeting, the discussion largely focused on the funding challenge brought about Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2011-12 budget plan — which includes a $500-million budget cut to the UC system due to the state’s $26-billion deficit.

“Students are real upset,” UC President Mark G. Yudof said. “I don’t blame them.”

The meeting began with public comment, where members of the Coalition of University Employees said that if they were allied with the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters union, they could negotiate better contracts.

Students showed support for a holistic admission process and thanked the Regents for their initiative. Students also came to protest budget cuts and asked that cuts do not lead to fee increases.

For the rest of the hour, the Regents responded to budget concerns by the public.

“These cuts will be painful…for every section of the state,” Yudof said. “We have increased fees by 40 percent in three years. My prediction is that the moment is fast approaching that the university will not be able to accept all California applicants who are eligible.”

Yudof said the UC campuses can admit 20,000 to 30,000 more, but they do not have enough state support to fund a quality education.

“I take Yudof seriously when he says Brown is serious about the $500-million cut,” Student Regent and UCI senior Jesse Cheng said. “We have to move forward and continue defending ourselves from fee increases and budget cuts.”

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed the creation of an online portal for budget suggestions from California faculty, student and citizens. One regent even suggested that sales taxes fund the UC system.

“The University of California is an institution of public access,” faculty representative Dan Simmons said. “Our commitment to the public good is one of our primary drivers. Our doors must remain open to students from all parts, [including] low- and middle-income families.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called the budget cuts “tragic trajectories.”

Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents Sherry Lansing said the UC Regents “must concentrate on quality. We have to think out of the box. The most important thing we have to think about are resources of revenue.”

“We need a ‘Save UC’ campaign right now,” Regent George M. Marcus said. “My son will contribute $100,000 now.”

He received a round of applause after he shouted, “Let’s get a campaign going. This is serious!”

Afterwards, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox talked about campus climate, noting that 60 more African American students and 24 Native Americans are enrolling this year.

Fox also spoke about UCSD’s access efforts, which include overnight events and outreach programs to high schools.

Fox noted the need for future revenue, which could come from accepting more non-residents as well as philanthropy, increased contract and grant awards and new partnerships.

“Our future depends on the strength of new research partnerships,” Fox said.

The meeting then started with the Committee on Educational Policy, which discussed a new admissions process for undergraduate applications.

The committee endorsed the resolution for a individualized holistic review, which would examine achievements within the context of opportunities available to the student.

“These [applicants] know, besides doing well on SATs [and] grade point average, they need to do community service,” Regent Richard C. Blum said. “They also know that they need to be good citizen[s] on campus.”

Cheng supported the decision.

“The admissions decision is a really great thing that happened, because it’s something I’ve been fighting for since I was a first year,” Cheng said.

Vice President of Budget Patrick Lenz gave a presentation on the funding alternatives for Brown’s recommendations.
Fox said the effects of impending cuts will put a strain on UCSD.

“We put additional pressure on affordability,” Fox said. “We won’t be able to attract grad students or afford retention packages.”

UCSA President Claudia Magaña said the fee increases have always been in direct conflict with the California Master Plan for Higher Education.

“You are exhausting this funding source too severely, too quickly,” Magaña said to the Regents.
Meetings ended with closed and Regents-only sessions to discuss compensation and finance.

The last time the Regents met in San Diego was January 2006.

“We generally have only one or two meetings a year on campuses other than UCSF because it is more cost effective to have them in San Francisco,” UCOP spokesperson Steve Montiel said in an e-mail. “It is important, however, to hold the meetings at different UC campuses so that students and faculty can participate directly in the meetings.”

UCOP Vice President for Communications Lynn Tierney praised UCSD’s campus.

“We also came because it was the 50th anniversary and it’s gorgeous.”

At yesterday’s meeting, the UC Regents discussed the UC Sustainability report in addition to capital improvements at other campuses.

At the last meeting tomorrow, the Regents will vote on compensation for UC Merced’s Interim Vice Chancellor, in addition to several laboratory directors, who will receive at least a 1.8-percent increase in their base salaries, which are $274,008 and above. The salary increases will be funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

During the Thursday meeting, representatives from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 union will demonstrate outside to denounce the $2.1 million executive perks.

“We’re protesting the Regents giving more bonuses to executives at the same time [as] increasing fees for students and attacking workers’ retirement,” AFSCME Local 3299 Lead Organizer Matias Marin said.

Marin said they will be giving a performance as part of their protest.

“We’re going to do something we haven’t really done before,” Marin said. “We’re [going to do] street theater to explain what’s going on as the United Farm Workers did in their day.”

Readers can contact Regina Ip at [email protected].

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