February 17, 2003
Budget talk dominates staff forum
By Jennifer McNulty
Uncertainty about the budget dominated the discussion during the chancellors
second brown-bag forum with staff this academic year.
EVC/Campus Provost Simpson shares his initial assessment of
Governor's proposed budget and its implications for UCSC. More
"The most certain thing about the current budget is the uncertainty
of the final outcome," said Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood during
her opening comments to the crowd of about 200 on February 12.
The chancellors remarks summed up the quandary campus administrators
find themselves in. With the state facing a shortfall of at least $24
billion, the university is certain to take a financial hit, and UCSC
will have to bear its share. But the scope and timing of cuts remain
Governor Gray Davis has proposed a state budget that would cut $400
million from University of California funding. Estimates of the potential
impact for UCSC run between $14.5 million and $16.5 million, but legislators
will negotiate for months before final budget numbers are known. Although
state law requires lawmakers to approve a budget by July 1, that deadline
has been missed before, noted Greenwood, who predicted it could be as
late as the fall before the state adopts a final spending plan.
In the meantime, Campus Provost John Simpson has formed an Executive
Budget Committee (EBC) to help the campus prepare for leaner economic
times. The charge of the EBC is to work "on both sides of the ledger,"
as Simpson put it, identifying ways to reduce the campus budget by $10
million and increase revenues by at least $5 million over the next three
years. The EBCs recommendations are due to Simpson by the end
Because state support for higher education has consistently dropped
during the past 30 years, UCSC needs to take a long-term approach to
the current budget crisis, explained Simpson.
Simpson has opted to take an "inclusive, campuswide" approach
to budget cuts, as opposed to what he called the easier, more common
"directive" approach in which campus leaders "pass out
numbers." Three project teams will focus on policies and procedures,
academic instruction and research, and revenue generation.
Declaring that there will be "no sacred cows," Simpson encouraged
budget analysts to examine whether the campus needs an executive vice
chancellor. "Thats an entirely appropriate question,"
the executive vice chancellor added wryly.
The campus has hired AVCOR Consulting to assist in the long-term budget
planning process and to help UCSC conduct business "more effectively,
more efficiently, and for less money," said Simpson. UCSC, like
academic institutions generally, has trouble looking "self-critically"
and adopting new practices, he added.
Outlining the principles that will guide the campus through the foreseeable
future, Greenwood said administrators will seek to avoid layoffs by
freezing new hires, reducing the cost of doing business wherever possible,
and seeking to minimize the impact of cuts on individual units.
"In addition, we are seriously considering adopting a campus-only
recruitment policy for the next six to eight months," said Greenwood,
promising that a decision is forthcoming.
Layoffs may be necessary in some areas, said Greenwood, noting that
Student Affairs is facing midyear funding cuts announced by the governor.
"But we dont want to worry people about layoffs if the money
is going to come back," she said, referring again to the uncertain
news out of Sacramento. If layoffs become necessary, the campus will
announce severance, rehiring, and retraining policies.
On other topics, most parking fees will increase 5 percent on July
1, and traffic signals have been approved for the Physical Plant intersection
and the Hagar and Coolidge Drives intersection.
In addition to budget news, Greenwood shared her concerns about the
world situation, as the United States appears poised on the brink of
war with Iraq.
"These are not just budget-troubled times, these are troubled
times in lots of ways," she said. Expressing her personal hope
that a peaceful alternative to the conflict is found, Greenwood called
on all members of the campus community to abide by UCSCs Principles
of Community to ensure that UCSC remains a "nonthreatening
and nonintimidating" place for all.
As a place of intellectual inquiry, the campus must remain a "safe
place for all faculty, students, and staff," she said, and all
voices must be heard, "even voices of dissent."
Greenwood also shared her delight over the recent opening of the new
University Center and the crowd of about 1,000 people who attended the
opening eventabout three times the expected number.
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