In a message to the UC Berkeley community at 8 a.m. today, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks warned about the consequences of “a substantial and growing structural deficit,” which he termed unsustainable.
The strong statement on the deficit announced a comprehensive strategic planning process, with a detailed reexamination of all discretionary expenditures, including athletics and capital costs. Formerly sacrosanct areas, including the number of academic departments, will be included in the review.
“We are fighting to maintain our excellence against those who might equate ‘public’ with mediocrity,” Dirks said in the statement. “What we are engaged in here is a fundamental defense of the concept of the public university, a concept that we must reinvent in order to preserve.”
According to Berkeley campus sources, the deficit this fiscal year is projected to be around 6% of the operating budget, around $150 million. The sources point to Berkeley being heavily tuition-dependent, compared to some UC campuses that have medical centers with high revenues.
Student tuition and fees make up about 30% of total campus revenues — compared to state support of 13% of revenues. In the 1980s, about half of Berkeley’s funding came from the state. Undergraduate tuition rates, the focus of vehement student protests in recent years, have not risen for the past five years and under Governor Jerry Brown’s plan, will not increase until 2017-18.
“Because this deficit does not reflect a short-term dip in funding,” Dirks’ message said, “but a ‘new normal’ era of reduced state support, responding to this deficit requires that we take a long-term view. We must focus not only on the immediate challenge, but also on the deeper task of enhancing our institution’s long-term sustainability and self-reliance.” … Continue reading »