By Prescott Watson // Additional reporting by Arianna Puopolo & Laurel Fujii

The UC Board of Regents convened on Wednesday, March 16 to discuss how the University of California will address another half-billion dollar drop in state funding from Governor Brown’s proposed budget. The proposed cuts reduce the state’s expenditures by $12.5 billion. The state’s budget deficit is $25.4 billion. If Governor Brown’s proposed tax extensions fail, the state will need to find other areas to reduce spending and the university could see a $1 billion cut of state funding.

Chancellors from three campuses present the difficulties of absorbing past cuts. Chancellor Blumenthal of UCSC presented grave expectations for our campus’ future. “We will not be able to make these cuts strategically … These reductions will cut right to the heart of our instruction and research missions.” Photo by Prescott Watson

The first half of Wednesday’s meeting featured Chancellor Robert Birgeneau of UC Berkeley, Chancellor George Blumenthal of UC Santa Cruz, and Chancellor Michael Drake of UC Irvine in a presentation on the effects of previous cuts to their campuses. Chancellor Drake said UCI “spent a year with Band-Aids just holding it together. We were just not breathing, not moving forward.” Blumenthal described the cuts as “making us vulnerable in many ways,” and said the campus “can’t even exempt public safety operations – fire, police, and environmental health and safety.”

Vice President for Business Operations Nathan Brostrom presents to the Board of Regents data on system-wide faculty and staff reductions. Since 2008 over 4,400 faculty and staff have been laid off and 3,700 positions were eliminated or have gone unfilled. Photo by Prescott Watson
Nathan Brostrom, vice president for business operations (left), and Chancellor George Blumenthal of UCSC (right) address reporters on the effects of a possible $1 billion reduction in state funding. Photo by Prescott Watson

Campuses could face much more severe reductions if Governor Brown’s proposed tax extensions aren’t enacted, said UC Vice President for Budget Patrick Lenz. The tax extensions could fail to get on a ballot measure or be rejected by voters in June. Though a statewide survey from the Field Poll at UC Berkeley shows the majority of Californians support the proposal, several regents said they doubted its viability. If the extensions fail, the UC could be looking at a $1 billion cut. Chancellor Birgeneau of UC Berkeley said, “We have no model to accommodate that $1 billion … it would devastate our staff and faculty.” Blumenthal said if the legislature cuts that much from the UC, “some fundamental assumptions have to be thrown out.” He said there is no way we cannot cut academic enterprises and that “we are at the point of compromising quality.”

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block looks towards Doug Wagoner, university affairs chair at the UC Student Assembly, after Wagoner made a passing reference to recent controversy involving a UCLA student’s racist Youtube rant, which attracted over a million viewers and garnered national media attention. Wagoner described a program designed to fight hate across the UC. Photo by Prescott Watson

Claudia Magaña, SUA’s external vice chair, and Doug Wagoner, university affairs chair of the UC Student Assembly, presented new information on hate crimes on UC campuses. “We are concerned that there is no mention of constructive means of healing hate on our campus,” Magaña said. UCLA has attracted national attention recently from a student’s racist rant posted to Youtube, which has drawn equally controversial responses. Decrying the hateful responses to the UCLA student’s video, Wagoner said the UC community must advocate for “restorative justice,” which involves “educating the offender instead of exacting retribution on the offender.”

SUA External Vice Chair Claudia Magaña presents to the Board of Regents information on increasing incidents of hate crimes at the UC. Photo by Prescott Watson
Doug Wagoner, university affairs chair at the UC Student Assembly, presents to the Board of Regents a plan for a program based on “restorative justice” to combat hate crimes. Photo by Prescott Watson
Chancellor Gene Block of UCLA talks to City on a Hill Press about the racist rant posted online by a UCLA student, which drew national attention to the campus. “The UCLA described in the video is not the university I know, and not the university that many of our faculty, staff and other students know,” he said. “Our community has always embraced our diverse make-up.” Photo by Prescott Watson
President of the University of California Mark Yudof talks with the Chair of the Board of Regents, Russel Gould, about the decentralization of funding at UC campuses. Currently, funding at each campus is given directly to the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), and is then dispensed among the 10 campuses and other UC facilities. Decentralization would mean campuses would retain the funding they generate and pay a tax to UCOP. Photo by Prescott Watson

Chancellor Blumenthal of UCSC has been a strong advocate for increasing the amount of money UCSC gets from UCOP. Currently, all campuses generate funds and sent them to UCOP to redistribute, which results in some campuses receiving more than they generated, and vice versa. UCSC has historically received less than 100 percent of the funding generated by the campus community. Chancellor Blumenthal has fought to get what he often describes as UCSC’s “fair share” of funding.

Chancellor Blumenthal answers questions about President Yudof’s decentralization plans. Photo by Prescott Watson

A restructuring of the funding structure proposed by President Yudof would change all of this. The proposal would have each campus keep its funding, with UCOP assessing a tax, leaving the president with much less influence in funding matters. Yudof said “no great university has ever been built from a central office.” Not all campuses are as enthusiastic about this restructuring as UCSC, however. Large campuses with medical facilities will receive less money than usual under the new plan, as they are limited by what their campus communities can generate. “The smaller campuses will benefit from this,” said Nathan Brostrom, vice president for business operations for the UC. “The major opposition to this was from medical centers, [which] may be taxed more than they have been. [The proposal] is designed to be revenue neutral, not biased towards or against any campus.” This restructured funding model would allow administrators to reduce UCOP’s budget by $50 million, said Brostrom.