Media Coverage 7/3/17

UC Berkeley’s new chancellor, Carol Christ, has announced the outlines of her plan to reduce the campus’s deficit from $110 million to $57 million during the 2017-18 school year. The cut is part of a four-year deal the campus made with UCOP, though coverage by the Mercury News portrayed it as Christ’s decision. Just over half of the reduction will come from increased revenue, including gifts, Christ announced in a press release. Nonetheless, she notes meeting the goal will be “painful.” Excluded from the cuts are “contracts and grants, including research funding from non-governmental sources; all scholarships and fellowships; programs funded with student fees; all instructional salaries; and utilities.” According to the release:

The (budget reduction) targets that divisions have been assigned are highly differentiated because of the way in which we have calculated the base. Targets for instructional divisions are about 1 percent; those for administrative, research, and service divisions are between 4 percent and 5 percent. I am pleased that many instructional divisions will meet their targets almost entirely from increased revenues.

Non-academic units are meeting their targets primarily through staff and service level reductions. Our overall staff workforce has shrunk by approximately 450 FTE within the last fiscal year. Total salary growth has slowed substantially over the past two years. We experienced a high of 6 percent growth in FY 2014-15 and expect it to remain flat in FY 2017-18 compared to this fiscal year. For the coming year, with the approval of the Office of the President, the senior leadership of the campus has agreed to forgo any salary increases.

In other news, the UC system announced new policies for responding to staff and faculty sexual misconduct, including a clear timetable for investigations and the involvement of chancellor’s in approving punishment. This week’s development in the UCOP audit saga includes a failed attempt by Republican lawmakers in Sacramento to authorize a forensic audit of UCOP. Democrats insisted the office be given time to make reforms, while the LA Times quoted State Auditor Elaine Howle saying she never found anything “nefarious” in her audit of UCOP. Meanwhile, the Regents approved a joint venture with Owl Rock to create a strategic loan fund, with UC committing $100 million in equity capital.

6/27 – Incoming UC Berkeley chancellor lays out plan to reduce budget deficit (SJMN): The article infers layoffs will result from the cuts and fails to note that the cuts are part of a deal Christ inherited.

See the official UC Berkeley statement here.

6/28 – Carol Christ teases budget, plans to halve $110M deficit (DailyCal): The article notes the campus deficit is scheduled to be eliminated by 2020. In an interview with the student paper, Christ emphasized a focus on revenue-generating programs, such as “UC Berkeley Extension, Summer Sessions, self-supporting degree programs and philanthropy.”

6/29 – U. of California System Changes How It Responds to Sexual Harassment and Violence (ChronHE): The article notes some of the changes:

Clear roles and responsibilities for Title IX offices and other campus offices in the adjudication and discipline processes for cases of sexual harassment and violence.

Completion of investigations within 60 business days. And 40 days after an investigation is completed, a decision on discipline should be made. After an investigation, respondents and complainants can communicate with the decision maker about the outcome.

Review and approval by a chancellor or chancellor-designee of discipline proposed by a staff member’s supervisors. For faculty members, a peer-review committee on each campus will help the chancellor come up with a resolution that includes discipline. All complainants and respondents will be informed of any outcomes.

6/28 – Democrats block Republican legislator’s proposal for forensic audit of UC Office of President (LATimes): Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, argued such a review would bolster UC’s credibility.

6/22 – Op-Ed: UC San Diego is failing in equity and diversity (SDUT): A retired UCSD administrator argues the campus is failing Chicano students.

6/29 – Owl Rock forms loan fund with University of California Regents (Reuters): The fund will “invest in senior secured loans that are made to middle market companies or in broadly syndicated loans.”

6/29 – UC Berkeley: Free speech lawsuit is unfounded (Berkeleyside): UC Berkeley has asked a court to dismiss a free speech case raised by student groups who allege the campus blocked conservative speakers from campus.

6/28 – A possible first in Berkeley: Housing for the homeless in People’s Park (Berkeleyside): A plan to address a shortage of student housing may also include housing for long-term homeless individuals.