Recent state budget cuts might be beneficial to USC

Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to tackle California’s mounting budget crisis includes a $500 million reduction in University of California, California State University and community college funding.

UC President Mark Yudof announced on March 16 $50 million in cuts to UC’s headquarters in Oakland and its other centralized offices. The goal of the cuts is to alleviate the financial burdens on individual UC campuses.

Cuts to the UC budget could prove beneficial to USC, as the university attempts to attract California’s and the nation’s brightest students.

Kirk Brennan, USC’s director of Undergraduate Admissions, said the financial adversities affecting the UC system could result in more students and families considering private institutions such as USC.

“There is a general perception on the part of families that the UC [system] may be a little less stable of an option,” Kirk said. “That perception will cause more people to think about private schools, and USC will see more interest because of that.”

Officials at UC schools fear tuition could also increase by more than the already proposed eight percent hike for the Fall 2011 semester if California voters fail to extend a tax increase.

Early this summer, voters will head to the polls for a special election to vote on extending the tax increases implemented in 2009 under then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for five additional years, which raises both income and property taxes.

The tax increases have cost the average citizen $260 per year, according to the State Department of Finance.

Arjun Chaurushia, a freshman majoring in business administration, said he considered the financial situation at the UC schools when making his college decision.

“I took financial stability into account when I applied to colleges,” Chaurushia said. “I anticipated more tuition hikes at the UC [schools] and that made USC a better value.”

The financial stability of USC is also appealing to potential faculty, according to Martin Levine, vice provost of faculty affairs.

“When we make hires we look all over the country and world, and our financial stability is one of the many qualities that captures eminent people from the UC system and other universities across the nation,” Levine said.

Levine, however, believes that regardless of the UC system’s financial woes, potential faculty members are still attracted to USC because of its strong academic curriculum.

“USC is well known to be moving vigorously ahead academically, and that is part of our attraction,” Levine said. “We don’t need to tell people about the situation at their home universities, though, we are able to tell them about the excellent prospects at USC.”

Other officials, including Berkley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, suggest individual UC campuses be given some liberty in determining tuition costs. Currently tuition is the same for all 10 UC campuses, and each campus has been asked to cut roughly $30 to $50 million from their budgets.

Most UC campuses will also have to lay off faculty and staff and reduce the scope of their curricula because of the budget crisis.

In a video message, Yudof warned Californians of the grave impact cuts in the UC system will have on higher education in the state.

“Make no mistake about it, no matter how efficient we are, a funding gap that is this large is going to significantly impact and change the University of California,” Yudof said. “We cannot save or streamline our way around a problem of this magnitude.”

1 reply
  1. Milan Moravec
    Milan Moravec says:

    Limited University of California Berkeley financial resources: UC Berkeley Chancellor continues spending.

    (The author who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way senior management work.)

    Recently: Chancellor Birgeneau pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; NCAA places Chancellor Birgeneau’s Cal. men’s basketball program on probation

    Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau’s ($500,000 salary) eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on inefficiencies and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.

    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies. Faculty and staff raised issues with Birgeneau and Provost Breslauer, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3,000,000) consultants to tell him what he should have known as a leader or been able to find out from the bright, engaged Cal. people. (A prominent East Coast university was accomplishing the same thing without expensive consultants)

    In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. Merely cutting out inefficiencies will not have the effect desired. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary

    Recently: Chancellor Birgeneau pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; NCAA places Chancellor Birgeneau’s Cal. men’s basketball program on probation

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