Commission on the Future Hears Public Comment

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The UC Commission on the Future held its first public meeting Tuesday in San Francisco, with the discussion centering around the need to finalize recommendations for reform before the state legislature votes on its budget for the next year.

The commission's work groups will present their findings to the UC Board of Regents in March. The findings could be voted on as early as the June Regents' meeting.

While some faculty and staff have expressed concern that the commission is moving too fast in its process in determining a future direction for the university, Co-Chair of the commission Russell Gould emphasized the need to vote on reforms to show the state legislature prior to its summer budget revision.

"I'm going to push pretty hard for decisions we can show the external world and the internal world," said Gould. "While we wrestle with this we have an external group that has its own timeline and we have to react to that."

Faculty who spoke at the meeting urged the commission not to make quick decisions that could impact the university's quality of instruction, including Vice Chair of the Academic Council Daniel Simmons.

"We are teetering on the edge of that happening as we meet in this room," Simmons said.

One of the possible reforms that had come up in past meetings of the campuses, incorporating online classes across the university, had received negative feedback from faculty and students.

"I don't believe the faculty will come to accept the idea that ... ( a UC education) ... is deliverable at a distance over a computer."

Student Regent Designate Jesse Cheng also went before the committee drawing parallels between the commission's current efforts and the crafting of the original California Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960, which increased the role of the university.

"We are developing a grand vision for what the future of the UC will be," Cheng said. "(The commission) is a way to re-imagine public investment in our university."

The meeting comes a day after UC President Mark Yudof testified before a joint committee of the state legislature in Sacramento, lobbying for a renewed investment in California's higher education system.

The university still needs to enact reforms, Yudof said, stating that officials in the Governor's office told him that $20 billion deficits were likely in the coming years.

"We can't just look at the revenue side, we have to look at how we do business," Yudof said."We cant just say it's a wonderful model and we won't change."


Javier Panzar covers higher education. Contact him at [email protected]

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