UC Hastings College of Law May Lose All State Funding

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In attempt to offset the state's $24 billion deficit, the governor proposed last week to eliminate all state funding for the UC Hastings College of Law, an action that could jeopardize the trust that established it 131 years ago and put the college at further financial risk.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed to eliminate the $10.3 million the state gives directly to the San Francisco college, which makes up about 20 percent of its total operating budget.

When the college was first established in 1878 by a $100,000 trust from California's first chief justice Serranus Clinton Hastings, it included a provision that requires the state to fund at least 7 percent of the college's operations, said Leo Martinez, a law professor at Hastings and soon-to-be acting chancellor and dean of the college.

If the governor's proposed elimination of funding is found to violate that provision, the trust plus the interest it has accrued since it was first established could revert back to the Hastings family, Martinez said.

The college is considered part of the UC system but is funded separately from and is not under the control of the UC Board of Regents.

"We are not saying we should be cut ... but we think it's fundamentally unfair that we should be cut 100 percent while the UC and CSU system get cut on the order of 20 (percent)," Martinez said. "We are part of the University of California ... we have been part of the state and the fabric of the UC system for 131 years."

H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the state's Department of Finance, said the department was aware that the total elimination of state funding could jeopardize the college's trust, but many state-funded areas are facing steep cuts.

"This was one, in our view, that had to go on table," he said.

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