October 6, 2003
New UC president to host web chats, plans 'traveling
Robert Dynes says 20 percent budget cut would
By Louise Donahue
The new president of the University of California has hit the ground
|Robert Dynes will host his
first web chat on Wednesday, from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Robert Dynes is skipping the traditional inaugural festivities, opting
instead for a traveling inaugural that will take him to
all the UC campuses. At each stop, Dynes plans to meet with students,
staff, faculty and alumni as well as elected officials and business
people and other Californians.
Dynes, a devoted runner, will invite people on each campus to jog with
him. I plan to do all of these in the first six months, so put
on your sneakers, he advised newspaper editors from the UC campuses
in an interview October 3.
Speaking on his second day in office, Dynes said he has two key priorities:
preserving UCs excellence and preserving access to UC for students
from all backgrounds.
Its a big challenge, I know its a big challenge,
and I have to say that my adrenalins pumping, my mind is churning
like mad, and I want to get on with it.
Dynes touched on a range of issuesfrom budget negotiations to
employee moralebut also emphasized his eagerness to listen to
others, both on and off campus. The university of California is
great because the people are great. The students are great, the staff
is great and the faculty are great. And that in part is why Im
so excited by taking this job on. I want to hear from as many people
as I can.
Dynes will do just that when he hosts a series of web
chats, with different segments of the UC community. The first
chat, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Wednesday (October 8), will focus on alumni
issues; the second, 10 11 a.m. on Oct. 14, will concentrate on
staff and faculty issues; and the third, 4-5 p.m. on Oct. 15, will look
at student issues.
That web chat will be me sitting at my terminal trying to answer
questions and chat with various people about issues, Dynes said.
UC as a state investment
The most immediate issue is the budget because it affects so
many areas, Dynes said. My goal is to convince the state
what a very good investment the University of California is. The money
that is invested in the University of California will be paid back many
times in the decades to come.
Dynes declined to be specific about budget cuts, but was not enthusiastic
about one idea: increasing the number of out-of-state students. Thats
not my favorite response, because if we accept more out-of-state students
we either displace in-state students or we find facilities for those
out-of-state students, and thats something we havent thought
I am not willing to accept the 20 percent budget cut at this
point, although weve been asked to go through that exercise. A
20 percent budget cut is a devastating budget cut for the University
of California. I cant imagine reducing the budget by that amount,
he said, noting that such a cut would be equivalent to the cost of two
or three campuses. I wont accept that, and I will make as
persuasive arguments as I can that the university has already
taken such difficult cuts that its inappropriate for us to take
Efforts to improve efficiency
I will say that we have some pretty vigorous exercises
going on throughout all the campuses to try to improve the efficiency
and reduce the duplication that occurs from campus to campus, and I
think we can save sizable amounts of money there, and so I think its
appropriate for us to look inside our own house first and figure out
ways to reduce our costs that will not compromise the quality of our
mission, he said.
I understand that thats a slightly fuzzy answer, and Im
not going to give you any more precise answer than that, because Im
not ready to take the 20 percent cut, he added. I have to
convince the folks that control the budget that an investment in the
young people of the state of California is actually a very good investment
and its not giving money away, its investing in the future.
Dynse said he strongly believes in the master plan for higher education,
which sets aside space in the University of California system for students
in the top 12.5 percent of their high school classes. I think
its one of the strengths of California and one of the strengths
of education in California.
Partnership agreement may need another look
The partnership agreement, however, may need revision,
Dynes said. Under the agreement, the state agrees to fund UC enrollment
growth and UC agrees to keep tuition level. My own view is that
it is time for us to sit down with the governor and the state legislature
and recraft an agreement, or recraft an understanding, of the University
of Californias support and where were going to be going
with all of that. Hanging on to that old agreement may not be as fruitful
as sitting down and just deciding were going to redefine it,
Asked about employee morale problems, Dynes said he thinks the situation
varies from campus to campus. There clearly are some best practices
out there that other campuses could learn from, he said. One small
example, he noted, was that at one campus staff members were brought
into budget discussions. It made a big difference, he said.
Dynes, who was chancellor at UC San Diego before becoming UC president,
would like to continue one practice from his old campus: e-mail communication.
At UCSD, the campus website included an e-mail link to Dynes. I
read every e-mail that came to me. I could not answer every email, but
I read every e-mail. Now, if there are a hundred thousand of them in
the first week, I wont be able to do that, but I dont expect
there will be. I will try to read every one of them.
Dynes offered his views on other topics, including:
UC quality: I have this view that an undergraduate
education in the University of California is a marvelous education independent
of which campus. It is my opinion that a person who graduates from any
of the campuses of the University of California, is limited only by
their motivation and their abilities, not by which campus they came
UC's role in the state: As I traveled around the
state of California and around the country this summer listening to
folks and trying to get their opinion about the university, Ive
come to realize that California really is the envy of the world, in
spite of all the difficulties that were going through right nowthe
political difficulties, the budget difficulties. Much of the success
of California, in my opinion, comes for the University of California.
Weve had a huge impact on California.
Interdisciplinary collaboration: My opinion is
that the nature of creativity occurs at the seams of traditional disciplines.
The most creative things occur when you have someone from another discipline
who brings a different language, and a different set of questions, to
you. And the collaborations that occur across the disciplines are marvelous
Bioinformatics, for example, wouldnt have existed if computer
scientists and biologists didnt get together.
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