Media Coverage 8/14/17

Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ last week released a plan for cutting the campus’s $110 million deficit by about $53 million during the 2018 fiscal year. The plan relies on new revenue from expanded academic offerings and gifts to account for over half the reduction. Nearly $20 million is slated to be cut from academic, research and administrative units, with a four percent cut for Cal Athletics and a five percent cut for BAMPFA. The campus’s top leaders will also forgo a salary increase.

According to campus leaders, the revenue-generating academic offerings include “new or expanded academic programming in University Extension, Summer Sessions, Concurrent Enrollment, Self Supporting Graduate Professional Degree Programs, and via Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition.” Despite the plan, there exists a $2 billion gap between the campus’s capital needs and projected funding. Budget items that will not face any reductions include academic salaries, scholarships and fellowships, funding of the Student Health Insurance Program and the campus’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Program.

It was a bad week for former Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who newspapers noted will have a fully-paid year off before returning to Cal as a professor. As is typical for exiting UC chancellors, Dirks will receive 80 percent of his former salary during his time away, which in this case means Dirks will make $434,000. Both lawmakers and faculty leaders are quoted criticizing the generous policy. Further, an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle questioned the utility of paying Dirks such a high rate as the university struggles to stay afloat. Meanwhile, a rather un-timely Wall Street Journal revived the “escape hatch” fiasco from Dirks’ tenure, when the campus was criticized for building an escape route from the chancellor’s office. The op-ed cites email records which show staff were concerned about violent student protests, and ends by suggesting the campus arrest students who break the law. Dirks had his own op-ed published last week in The Washington Post, in which he discussed the challenge of protecting free speech on campus in the face of violent protesters. The piece was criticized in a response published by the conservative National Review.

While the national media focused this week on the college town of Charlottesville, VA, where a white supremacist attending a rally murdered a counter-protester, local media covered the trials of two left-wing protestors accused of violence that allegedly occurred during riots in Berkeley earlier this year. Eric Clanton, a former community college philosophy professor, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, a felony, for striking a man with a bike lock. Yvette Felarca, a teacher at Berkeley Middle School, is charged with felony assault and two misdemeanors. During the week, UC President Janet Napolitano waded into the political arena, writing an op-ed in The Washington Post calling on Congress to pass legislation protecting “dreamers” covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Ten GOP state attorneys general have threatened to sue the Trump Administration if the president doesn’t repeal DACA by early September.

Berkeley’s Budget

8/10 – Campus unveils revenue-driven budget that cuts $15M from academic, research and administrative divisions (DailyCal): The article includes a nice campus-produced graphic that breaks down the cuts.

8/11 – UC Berkeley Budget Cuts Campus Deficit by Nearly Half (KQED): According to the article, “Teaching units would, for the most part, be able to use new revenue to meet their budget targets. Research units, however, would not have that cushion and would need to reduce their expenses by an average of 4 percent.”

Dirks’ Week

8/11 – Editorial: UC Berkeley perks are part of the problem (SFChronicle): The editorial notes such policies are not uncommon, but characterized UC’s as especially generous.

8/8 – UC Berkeley ex-chancellor to receive $434,000 while on leave (SFChronicle): The article quotes a spokesperson explaining the policy by saying its purpose “is to allow top-flight academics to get back up to speed in their field and begin research, which they weren’t able to do while in their administrative role.”

8/8 – Former UC Berkeley chancellor to earn $434,000 in paid time off (SJMN): BFA Chair Michael Burawoy is quoted as commenting, “Even though it’s part of his contract, this looks like a reward for incompetence. It is an appalling commentary on the distribution of benefits at a time of supposed fiscal crisis and when many students can barely scrape together a living. He should contribute half his salary to a fund for homeless students.”

8/9 – Op-Ed: The real issue in the campus speech debate: The university is under assault (WaPo): Dirks writes, “At Berkeley, as at other college campuses across the country, ensuring that students from minority backgrounds feel welcomed and supported, while also insisting on the unfettered exploration of diverse ideas, raises complicated issues even without the eruption of violent protest. Indeed, free speech controversies are embedded in what might seem to be fundamental contradictions, most notably between widely held campus commitments to diversity, inclusion, and social mobility on the one hand, and the constitutional right to free speech on the other.”

8/10 – Berkeley Chancellor Dirks Mischaracterizes Goldwater Proposal (NationalReview): The author argues his plan for campuses was mischaracterized.

8/9 – A Berkeley ‘Escape Hatch’ (WSJ): The rather unfocused editorial ends by noting, “So there you have it: Administrators are no longer figuratively retreating or cowering from out-of-control students. They’re creating the physical architecture to literally do so. It might be more dignified and less expensive to have these kids arrested when they break the law.”

Other News

8/11 – Op-Ed: Congress has the power — and the responsibility — to protect the ‘dreamers’ (WaPo): In the op-ed, Napolitano writes, “As University of California president, I also see the exceptional contributions that young dreamers make to our country. Most are the first in their families to attend college, and they work hard to further their educations.”

8/11 – UC owes $1.3 million to thousands of underpaid employees (SacBee): The settlement comes after a Department of Labor investigation found UC underpaid 13,700 non-academic workers by small amounts.

8/10 – Preliminary hearing for Eric Clanton, charged with Berkeley bike lock assault, pushed to September (Berkeleyside): Clanton was identified by an online effort that became a popular cause on the right.

8/10 – Berkeley Teacher Filmed Punching Neo-Nazi Arraigned In Sacramento (CBS/SF): Video allegedly shows Felarca attacking a man who has his hands raised.

 

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