Campus Braced for Budget Cuts

Photo: Chancellor Birgeneau discussed the campus's response to potential faculty cuts and class delays at his annual briefing yesterday.
Anna Hiatt/Staff
Chancellor Birgeneau discussed the campus's response to potential faculty cuts and class delays at his annual briefing yesterday.

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UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau gave his annual briefing yesterday, acknowledging probable budget cuts that would reduce faculty sizes and delay classes for the coming year.

While the state has not disclosed the details of the proposed state budget, Birgeneau projected that the campus will face net losses of nearly 5 percent, even if the money from the state stays at last year's figure of $500 million. He attributed the losses to increased costs and the poor economy.

"The money that we get from the state is $300 million a year less than what Stanford derives from the income on its endowment each year," he said. "Nevertheless, as evidenced by the performance by our undergraduate and graduate students, we are doing quite well."

The campus is now waiting for the state legislature to agree on a budget for the coming year. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a revised version of the budget in May that would offset some proposed cuts to the UC system by restoring $98.5 million to the university.

In response to what will likely be a tighter budget, the campus administration plans on cutting back its hiring of new faculty, which would lead to an increase in the student-to-teacher ratio from its present 18-to-1.

Some classes will not be offered for at least a year, which may act as an obstacle for many students to get their degrees on time, Birgeneau said.

"My principal concern though, which I think the state should be concerned with also, is our ability to teach impacted courses and offer the number of sections that we need," he said.

Birgeneau also expressed concern for the campus's progress when faced with the foreseeable financial difficulties.

"I'm seeing it more and more. Our faculty and students are always coming forth with new initiatives and there's a number that we have to say sorry to and we're going to have to wait a year," he said.

Despite the impending financial crisis, Birgeneau said students in need of financial aid would not be negatively affected by the budget cuts.

The campus has managed to lower costs for freshmen who have been awarded Pell Grants, Birgeneau said. Students who have been awarded Cal Grants by the state will also not be affected by cuts.

To combat the expected budget cuts, a variety of financial measures are being implemented, namely a five-year fundraising plan for $3 billion, Birgeneau said.

With the help of a generous donation by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the campus amassed $409 million last year.

"This was really by far the largest," Birgeneau said. "We're obviously very pleased with that and will try our best to sustain that level in the future."


Deepti Arora covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]

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