UC Leaders Look to Future Amid Discussions of Finance

Photo: <b>Protesters</b> watched as members of the Commission on the Future presented recommendations to improve the UC system last Tuesday.
Anna Vignet/Photo
Protesters watched as members of the Commission on the Future presented recommendations to improve the UC system last Tuesday.

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Analysis: Meeting between UC Board of Regents and UC Commission on the Future

Javier Panzar and Jordan Bach-Lombardo discuss the meeting between the UC Board of Regents and the UC Commission on the Future where recommendations were proposed.

UC Commission on the Future Recommendations: First Round »

Click here to read the first round of recommendations presented to the UC Commission on the Future by its five working groups.

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The UC Commission on the Future unveiled their first round of recommendations to reform the UC at a long-awaited meeting last week at the UC San Francisco campus amid mixed responses from commission members.

Members of the commission questioned many of the 30 recommendations presented over the course of the four-hour meeting, including a multiyear fee plan that could raise student fees by 15 percent annually for the next five years and a plan that would double the number of out-of-state students to generate $174 million in new tuition revenue.

UC President and co-chair of the commission Mark Yudof said he expected debate on the recommendations, which will be revised over the coming months before being finalized at a June meeting and sent to the UC Board of Regents for approval.

Victor Sanchez, the president of the UC Student Association who also serves on the commission, was greeted with applause from the audience when he criticized many of the working group recommendations' reliance on increased student fees.

Calling the proposed increases "outrageous," Sanchez said the commission should instead focus on finding new revenue streams for the university.

"We are going down a path that cannot be readily steered away from and will affect whether people even want to apply (to the university)," he said.

Regent Monica Lozano said she was concerned about the severity of a student fee increase plan proposed by the funding strategies working group that would raise fees between 5 and 15 percent annually for five years.

"The fee policy in my mind should be predictable and moderate," she said. "It seems like a 10 percent fee increase is significant, not moderate."

The size and shape as well as the access and affordability working groups both recommended doubling nonresident student enrollment to 9 percent of the UC student population, a move that would raise $174 million for the university.

Art Pulaski, a commission member and the executive secretary-treasurer and chief officer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, warned that the increase would steer the UC system away from its mission as a state institution.

"(The commission) has to consider the obligation that we have as a public university in California to be sure that we are serving the interest of our students, of our children in California," he said at the meeting. "We have to consider the question of diminishing political returns, when the parents of California students think that we are prioritizing more and more out-of-state students."

Other recommendations included altering the paths students take to graduating by offering a three-year degree option and developing online undergraduate classes to make more spaces open for students.

The education and curriculum working group, co-chaired by Christopher Edley, dean of the UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, recommended offering high-demand undergraduate classes online.

"There are going to be great research universities that seriously get into the online delivery route," he said. "The question is whether we are leaders or followers."

Other cost-saving recommendations were less contentious, such as one from the research strategies working group to negotiate with the federal government to receive more money to administer federally-funded grants.

Many of the proposals were met with opposition when the meeting was opened for public comment. Speakers expressed frustration over what they saw as the lack of student and staff input to the commission and the lack of recommendations addressing issues of diversity.

Despite many protesters' calls for more community input, Edley said the commission should take more direct action to implement new policies.

"For the (recommendations that) we think really ought to go some place, let's re-craft them with enough intentionality and muscularity so that they actually happen as opposed to just triggering additional steps," Edley said.


Contact Jordan Bach-Lombardo and Javier Panzar at [email protected]

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