Work Groups to Report to UC Commission on the Future Next Week

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Analysis: UC Commission Recommendations

Assistant University News Editor Mihir Zaveri speaks with Javier Panzar regarding the recommendations that the UC Commission will hear.

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Nearly eight months after it was created to reshape the University of California following years of decreased state funding, the UC Commission on the Future will consider potential changes to the university next week at UC San Francisco.

The five work groups from the commission will present initial recommendations next week addressing student fees, out-of-state enrollment, online courses and financial aid for undocumented students, among other issues. But the work groups will hold back on some contentious issues until final recommendations are issued in June.

"We really need to show Sacramento that we are serious about making changes to how the UC operates," said commission member Mary Croughan, a UCSF professor and former chair of the Academic Senate. "We have done the furloughs. We have done fee increases, so the faculty and students have felt the pain, and now we are trying to make all the structural global changes to operate the university within the new normal of the budget."

The recommendations follow months of input from students, faculty, staff and higher education experts who attended forums held across the UC system and the commission's three meetings.

Russell Gould, chair of the UC Board of Regents and co-chair of the commission along with UC President Mark Yudof, founded the commission at the board's July 2009 meeting where a controversial employee furlough program was approved as part of efforts to absorb a $637.1 million reduction in state funding to the university in fiscal year 2009-10.

Academic Senate Chair Henry

Powell said the commission had to push back an original deadline for recommendations due to "the fact that the commission simply needs more time to work on very substantive issues."

According to Miguel Daal, member of the Size and Shape Work Group and president of the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly, the group will recommend a systemwide increase in out-of-state student enrollment. The group could not reach a consensus on an increase in time for next week, but the increase would likely be limited to the approximate 15,000 resident enrollments currently unfunded by the state.

"That question then needs to be balanced," Daal said. "The tuition that we get from (out-of-state students) generates a lot of revenue, (but) you don't want to take any slots away from any resident California students."

The issue will not be resolved until the June meeting, he said.

"I would caution people from

thinking these are our premier recommendations," he said. "I would suggest people should interpret these as ... the ones we could get ready first."

Other groups are postponing contentious issues as well. According to Croughan, co-chair of the Research Strategies Work Group, a recommendation regarding the role of private companies in funding university research will not be presented until June.

But other groups will be proposing more dramatic steps to shape the future of the university next week.

Student Regent Jesse Bernal, co-chair of the Access and Affordability Work Group, said his group will suggest creating a fund for financially needy undocumented students, among other proposals.

He said cohort-based fees would offer students "predictability" when applying to the UC because fee levels would be fixed at what a student pays when they first matriculate.

"Depending on where the recommendations go and the boldness of the recommendations, it could have the same impact (as the 1960 Master Plan) for the next generation of the UC," he said.

The pressure of determining a future direction for the university has conflicted with the time table of the state budget process.

At a December meeting of the commission, Gould said recommendations should be finalized by summer in order to influence legislators as they craft the 2010-11 state budget.

"There is pressure-you can't declare (a financial) emergency and not put some fire under getting these ideas out," he said of the need to expedite the process of determining a future direction for the university. "At the same time there is a process to go through."

After the recommendations are presented to the commission, they will be reviewed by the Academic Senate and student governments.

"I'm not looking at deeply radical changes," Powell said. "But when you are a 10-campus system, small changes can have considerable consequences ... you just have to wait and see what those recommendations are."


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

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