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January 29, 2001

Long-range budget process takes a 10-year view

By Jennifer McNulty

As UCSC undertakes its first long-range budget-planning effort, many administrators and faculty members are breathing a sigh of relief that Campus Provost John Simpson has initiated a process that looks 10 years down the road.

While the nitty-gritty work of preparing budget proposals is time-consuming, most participants are eager to have a blueprint that will help UCSC get "from here to there."

Part of the challenge is gearing up for the 5,200 new students who are expected between now and 2010, but Simpson's budget call has also asked campus divisions to anticipate what they will need to significantly raise UCSC's quality locally and its reputation nationally.

"UCSC is poised for considerable growth and additional resources over the next 10 years," said Simpson. "To take full advantage of the opportunities that growth offers, I want each part of the campus to look into the future and create a plan of where it wants to be 10 years from now."

Simpson has asked each division to build on the campus's strengths and the principles articulated in the Millennium Report, while also thinking creatively about new directions that will enhance graduate programs, attract top-quality faculty and greater extramural support, and increase the number of programs ranked in the top 25 in the country.

"Academic planning will drive the process and guide the activities of support units," said Simpson, who has asked for a planning process that includes faculty, department chairs, divisional managers, staff, and students.

In the past, resources have been divided across divisions based on enrollments, which vary with economic fluctuations. Longer-range planning allows for a more balanced and less reactive approach to campus expansion, added Simpson, who will initially set aside about 20 percent of new enrollment-generated resources for campuswide responsibilities and opportunities.

Simpson's call included preliminary budget-allocation ranges for each division, and divisions have been asked to anticipate their infrastructure needs, such as buildings, lab space, and computers, as well as faculty and staffing needs.

Across campus, administrators and budget managers have set the planning effort in motion, and all are prepared to meet Simpson's first deadline of March 15, when executive summaries of divisional plans will be submitted for campus discussion.

In the Social Sciences Division, Dean Martin Chemers has asked department chairs to detail their plans to become "as good as they can be," while also developing new and innovative proposals.

Humanities Dean Wlad Godzich has given departments financial parameters in which to work, and he has invited specific new initiatives, including proposals for new graduate programs, that may or may not move forward depending on faculty support.

Arts Division efforts focus on the expansion of graduate programs and responding to the revolutionary impact on all the arts of digital technologies and the Internet, said Dean Edward Houghton.

Turning away from year-to-year budget planning encourages departments to ask, "Where is this discipline going to be in 10 years?," rather than "How are we going to hire our next faculty member?," noted Michael Cowan, professor of American studies and chair of the systemwide Academic Senate.

"Instead of scrambling for one faculty hire, for example, this gives departments the confidence to consider waiting three years and hiring three people at once," said Cowan. "It gives them an opportunity to do something dramatic."

Moreover, he noted, the process comes at a good time for the 36-year-old campus. "John Simpson's planning effort is an act of real institutional self-confidence," he said. "It's based on confidence that the campus is going to grow, and it is intended to ensure that we grow in the best way."

Or, as Chemers put it, "Planning when you don't think you're going to get the resources is no fun, but when you know you'll be getting resources, it's pretty exciting."

Campus discussion will take place from March 15 through early December. That nine-month phase, dubbed the "gestation period" by Dario Caloss, assistant dean of humanities, will give everyone on campus an opportunity to evaluate the plans, present ideas independently, and offer feedback.

Simpson has referred to the initial executive summaries as "broad brush" documents intended to get people thinking and engaged in the campuswide evaluation. He has asked for comprehensive divisional plans to be submitted by early December and aims to complete the planning process by spring 2002.

David Kliger, dean of the Natural Sciences Division, initiated a similar long-range planning process within the division several years ago and emphasized the critical timing of the campuswide process.

"We don't want to wait," he said. "We're going to be growing so quickly that if we waited five years, it would be too late. It's really critical that we do this now."

One of the greatest values of the long-range planning process is the opportunity for interdepartmental and interdivisional collaboration, said Social Sciences Dean Chemers.

"Intellectually, when departments know they'll have enough resources, it encourages innovative thinking across bounds," he said. For example, despite strong interest in environmental issues in both the Natural and Social Sciences Divisions, faculty collaborations have never really taken off as each division pursued its own agenda. "With growth and the resources that are coming, we've established a task force to look at those gaps," said Chemers.

Similar alliances may emerge in South Asian studies, biomedical engineering, women's health, and other areas, he said, adding, "Money is like fertilizer."

Two aspects of campus growth--the Silicon Valley Center and year-round operation--represent major unknowns that may be shaped in part by what emerges during this planning process, as each division has been asked to prepare specific proposals outlining its participation.

Kliger doesn't anticipate that significant changes in the relative balance of academic divisions on campus will emerge from the planning process, but he said the Silicon Valley Center remains a "big question."

"In my mind, the Silicon Valley Center needs to be a specialized arm of the campus, but how will that change the overall ratio of the number of faculty in the different divisions?" he said. "Nobody knows."

The Division of Student Affairs has requested that its 32 units consider both the year-round and Silicon Valley initiatives as they prepare their material. But managers expect that the final plans from academic divisions will further refine their role in supporting these initiatives, said Elise Herrera-Mahoney, divisional administrative officer.

"We expect to be impacted by Silicon Valley, but until the academic plan is more firmly defined, we will utilize the information that is currently available," she said. "One unit we're certain will be impacted is the Career Center, which plans to offer more internship opportunities with Silicon Valley companies. What we're not certain of is the impact on other services, like the Health Center, counseling services, and housing."

Working within those constraints, all units in the Student Affairs Division will present their budget plans to Vice Chancellor Francisco Hernandez.

Indeed, social sciences faculty have expressed interest in working on environmental, urban planning, and other issues "over the hill," and the Arts Division anticipates a lot of year-round activity and involvement in Silicon Valley, as well.

"Building on Shakespeare Santa Cruz's stellar reputation, we expect our facilities to be used as intensely during the summer as during the rest of the year," said Houghton. "And who would have imagined a few years ago that we would be collaborating so closely with information scientists and contemplating developing digital-arts research labs and robotics facilities next to the blimp hangars at Moffett Field?"

As University Relations develops its 5- and 10-year plans, it also awaits word from the academic divisions regarding their private fundraising goals, which will further refine UR's direction, said Vice Chancellor Ronald Suduiko.

Finally, Simpson has asked each division to develop criteria by which its success will be evaluated--factors such as enrollment, workload, extramural support, growth of graduate and undergraduate programs, national rankings, and faculty honors. Annual allocations will be contingent on achievement of those criteria.

"The proof is in the pudding, of course," said Cowan. "This process requires leadership at the departmental level and tremendous leadership at the dean's level. Whether it will be successful or not depends on follow-through from the administration and on the the reliability of resources. But as the campus seeks academic distinction and visibility, it is an opportunity to be bold."

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